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And The Seeds Became Trees

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Her eyes are burning and her fingers and arms ache from the length of time she's been holding the wheel. Her back hurts too but so far she managed to ignore the dull ache at the bottom of her spine even though she's silently been cursing herself for not having adjusted her seat when she got back in the car.

Brenda is aware of her companion in the car only because Sharon Raydor is snoring softly, her head rests on her arm which is propped up against the window. The radio plays softly. Brenda changed the station the moment she realised Sharon was asleep because she sure as hell couldn't cope with any more Bach or Mendelssohn or whatever composer was responsible for the music Sharon had chosen for their journey. Right now, the chorus from "Sweet Home Alabama" fills the car and Brenda drums her fingers against the wheel in an attempt to distract her mind.

Darkness had fallen hours ago. It was after ten o'clock and they still had more than half of their journey ahead of them. She wishes she'd booked a hotel for the night, like Sharon had suggested when they first left Los Angeles. But she'd insisted on driving home on the same day and had even shook her head when Sharon had offered to drive since Brenda had driven that morning.

Going up to Fresno had been a necessity. Brenda couldn't exactly imagine doing it for fun, and certainly not with Sharon Raydor as her companion, but she hadn't been left with any choice. Their suspect in a double homicide as well as the murder of a patrol officer had been arrested in Fresno after a simple traffic violation. It had resulted in a quickly unfolding sequence of events which, among others, involved Brenda and Sharon standing in Pope's office engaged in what could only be described as an undignified shouting match about to whom the suspect belonged.

Brenda insisted he belonged to Major Crimes due to the double homicide and Sharon insisted he belonged to FID because of the dead patrol officer. Brenda had reminded both Sharon and Pope that they didn't know if the suspect had been the one to kill the officer and when Sharon pointed out that Brenda also had no solid evidence he was responsible for her double homicide, Pope had intervened.

"You will both go to Fresno," he said and Sharon has seen the horror on Brenda's face. "Together." There was a pause and Sharon had been a little surprised that Pope felt confident enough to send her and Brenda anywhere together, let alone all the way to Fresno. "And I shouldn't have to remind you what 'together' means. I don't want a call from Fresno PD telling me they've had to arrest the Heads of Major Crimes and FID for attempted murder!"

Brenda had only reluctantly agreed to this and when they walked out of Pope's office, she'd sneered, "I'm driving" and walked off in the general direction of the elevator, leaving Sharon with no other choice but to tail after her.

And so they had found themselves in Brenda's sedan half an hour later, heading up towards Fresno, and Brenda had no idea how she was going to get through the more than three and a half hours it would take them to get there, and the same to get back again. Oh, that woman!

They'd talked very little during the drive but Brenda had, surprisingly, found Sharon not to be bad company. Sharon admired the scenery, as much as there was to be admired, and she paid for two of the coffees they bought along the way as well as a bag of Reese's peanut butter cups for Brenda. She asked Brenda a few questions about herself and Brenda, remembering her Mama's desperate attempts to raise her with some manners, politely answered the questions and asked some of her own.

She now knew Sharon had two children, a boy and a girl, and that she and her husband were separated and she'd been born in Chicago. But aside from that, Brenda knew nothing else about the FID Captain, aside from her poor taste in music.

The interview of their suspect was a waste of time. The second he found out they were from LA, he said the magical word "lawyer" and Sharon and Brenda left the interview room empty handed, much to Brenda's anger. He refused to talk and Brenda had been seething because they'd come all the way out here for nothing whereas Sharon calmly arranged for the suspect to be transported back to Los Angeles the next day. When Brenda heard that, she'd quietly said "Thank you" and Sharon had just smiled. Brenda's insides had done something strange and she'd turned away.

Brenda uses her left hand to rub her temples and in the distance she spots the lights of a gas station. Gas stations sell coffee, she thinks. Bad coffee but coffee nevertheless. She really needs something to wake her up. When she pulls into one of the parking spaces in front of the small shop and the car comes to a stop, Sharon stirs and lifts her head up from her arm.

Brenda can't help but think that Sharon Raydor looks incredibly disarming, her eyes still full of sleep and brown locks falling over her face. Sharon blinks a few times and fumbles with her pockets to try and find her glasses. Brenda can see she's squinting and she wonders just how bad Sharon's eyes are. Sharon finds her glasses and puts them on. Instantly the disarming woman Brenda has just seen transforms into the cool FID Captain.

"Why are we stopping?" Sharon asks.

"Coffee."

"Again?" Sharon narrows her eyebrows and takes in the sight of the tired looking blonde sitting in the driver's seat. Brenda's shoulders are slumped. Sharon then looks at the gas station and wrinkles her nose. "This places looks like more likely to give you food poisoning than a caffeine buzz. Isn't there somewhere else we can go?"

Brenda rolls her eyes and her hand's already at the door handle. "It's the only gas station I've seen in the last thirty miles and I don't expect to see a Starbucks drive through anytime soon."

Sharon studies Brenda more closely. The blonde's eyes are dull and her skin is slightly sweaty. Damp ringlets stick to her forehead. The air outside the car is humid and hot and Sharon wishes they could stay in the car forever because the air conditioning is nice and cool but she isn't about to let Brenda walk into this dump of a gas station on her own so she opens the passenger door and gets out.

She catches Brenda as she tries to stifle a yawn and cuts her off on the way to the door. She holds it for the blonde chief, resulting in a somewhat peculiar sideways glance from Brenda as she enters, and then Sharon steps into the small shop herself.

Brenda was right. There is coffee but it's from one of those cheap machines and it probably tastes even worse than it looks. She pulls up her nose as the tar coloured liquid pours into the plastic cup and she decides there and then that she isn't going to drink it. She feels the eyes of the guy behind the counter burn into her back and she readjusts her badge just enough to know that he can see it. When she looks over her shoulder she finds Sharon standing by the candy, her badge on full display on her belt, her hands on her hips and one eye clearly on the man watching Brenda.

Brenda takes the coffee once the machine has finished and the warmth spreads through her fingers up to her wrist. She walks past the fridge and takes out three cans of Red Bull. That'll make up for the fact that she won't be having any coffee. Sharon meets her at the counter and insists on paying. Brenda realises she's too tired to argue so she lets Sharon pay, watches as the brunette exchanges dollar bills and Brenda suddenly wonders how she never noticed just how beautiful Sharon really is.

She is wearing her grey slacks and a simple white button blouse. She'd discarded the blazer into the backseat when they got in the car in Fresno. Her brown hair falls in thick strands down her shoulders and Brenda's gaze briefly drops down to Sharon's legs. They seem endless. Momentarily her eyes linger on the curve of Sharon's ass and then Brenda realises what she's doing and her cheeks flush red.

She tears her eyes away from the older woman just before Sharon looks up and quickly starts for the door. Sharon follows her, Brenda can hear her footsteps, and this time Brenda holds the door. Their arms brush against each other and for a split second, Sharon seems to freeze. Brenda notices and she's still standing in the open door when Sharon is halfway back to the car, wondering what just happened.

Brenda catches up with her and they walk the last few metres back to the car side by side, the sky over their heads dark and full of stars, and Brenda reaches to open the driver side door when Sharon puts a hand on her arm and stops her. Brenda's skin unexpectedly tingles under Sharon's touch and she turns to look at her companion and, despite the warm evening, shivers. When did Sharon come this close?

"Let me drive," Sharon offers but Brenda shakes her head. Sharon's voice is soft and her hand is warm and Brenda suddenly feels the urge to lean in to Sharon and just feel... her.

The feeling startles her and she jerks away unexpectedly. "In fine, Captain." By addressing Sharon by her title she severs whatever was bringing them together and Sharon takes a step back and removes her hand.

"Ok."

Brenda gets back behind the wheel and waits for Sharon to fasten her seatbelt. She starts the engine and leaves the gas station behind. Seeing it grow smaller in the rear view mirror feels like a relief even though she doesn't exactly know what it is that she feels like she's running from.

If Sharon disagrees with Brenda's choice of radio station, she's not letting it on because she closes her eyes again and Brenda thinks she's asleep until she softly hears Sharon hum along to Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter", and she is genuinely surprised.

"My, my, Capt'n Raydor, I never took you for a country girl."

Sharon opens one eye and she smiles knowingly. Brenda can those green eyes twinkle behind her glasses. Sharon hasn't removed them this time.

"I'm full of surprises."

Brenda lets the words sink in for a moment, not having missed the slightly teasing undertone.

Then suddenly she feels Sharon's hand on her knee. It's soft and warm and unelected and totally catches her by surprise. It sets something alight deep down in her belly and she bites down on her tongue to not sigh in relief.

Sharon knows Brenda is tired and she also knows the blonde chief will never admit to it.

"Brenda, you're tired." It's the first time Sharon has ever used Brenda's first name in front of her. She doesn't remove her hand. "You have been driving for hours. Stop trying to prove your point." Sharon pauses and Brenda finally dares to look beside her. Concern is etched over Sharon's face. Brenda's eyes are red and Sharon can see the tiredness.

Brenda opens her mouth to speak, to object to what Sharon has said, but the brunette cuts her off.

"Pull over. Let me drive for a while."

And Brenda pulls over without thinking. She switches off the engine, climbs out of the driver's seat and into the passenger side. Sharon walks around the car and slips behind the wheel just as Brenda slips into the other seat. The leather is warm and she can smell the lingering scent of Sharon's perfume. It's strangely comforting and she leans back deeper into the seat.

The aching in her body slowly begins to subside and as Brenda rests her head in her hand, she looks at Sharon for a while. She drives in a relaxed position, Brenda notices, with her hands gracefully but casually holding the wheel. Her eyes are focused on the road. A streetlamp lights up Sharon's features, giving her skin a strange glow. Brenda uses this moment to just watch Sharon and Sharon knows but doesn't say anything.

She smiles when she sees that after a while, Brenda's eyes close and she drifts off to sleep. Careful not to lose control over the wheel, Sharon leans over a little and brushes a stray curl out of her companions face and her fingertip ghost over Brenda's cheek.

"Goodnight, Brenda."

And in her sleep, Brenda smiles.

Chapter Text

She hasn't slept in 36 hours. Her mind yearns for rest, for silence, and her body longs for the warmth of her shower. Her auburn locks are bound back in a loose ponytail. It is not something she does often but now her hair is frazzled and dry and she can't stand the strands falling into her eyes any longer. Her eyes burn behind her glasses; the lack of sleep have left them sore and small and the red circles around them stare back at her from the mirror.

It is rare for an OIS to be this difficult but she has walked into a minefield and a step wrong to the left or the right will result in an explosion she cannot even begin to oversee. Two dead teenagers, a dead woman and two officers who are telling a story she knows isn't true but she doesn't have anything other than her own gut instinct to back her up on that.

And that is precisely the reason Sharon Raydor finds herself standing in the ladies' room with her hands on the porcelain sink, watching as the water disappears down the drain. She had torn her eyes away from her own reflection, almost ashamed by what she saw, and she'd splashed some cold water in an attempt to clear her head. Drops of water still glisten on her cheeks and her forehead and her eyes still burn as much as before.

The knock on the door startles her and she spins around. "Yes?" she calls, her voice soft and void of its usual sharpness. Something tugs inside her chest and she recognises it as reluctance. The longing for silence only grows.

"Captain?" The voice belongs to Detective Elliot. He sounds hesitant, like he is afraid to interrupt her here.

"What is it?"

"I err... I think you should come out here."

She groans in frustration. "Just get it out, will you, Detective?" She regrets it immediately but she can't take the words back now.

"Chief Johnson is here to see you."

Sharon cradles her head in her hands. The headache is instant. She is already swamped. The last thing she needs right now is Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson because regardless why she is here, the Deputy Chief always proves to be a distraction of the worst kind. Sharon sighs and looks in the mirror, reaches around to her ponytail and pulls out the elastic. Her tangled locks fall down her shoulders and Sharon runs her fingers through them. It'll have to do, she decides.

When she steps out of the ladies room she finds Brenda leaning against the opposite wall. All bright colours - Sharon is sometimes still amazed at the combinations this woman wears- and with her blonde hair tucked behind her ears. Brenda gracefully pushes herself away from the wall and takes in the sight of Sharon Raydor. Sharon doesn't miss the way the younger woman's eyes narrow a little.

Brenda sees that the Captain's pinstriped pants are wrinkled. It strikes her as odd because Sharon Raydor usually looks pretty damn perfect. She's abandoned her blazer and Brenda's gaze drifts up from Sharon's waist, where the pink blouse is tucked into her pants, up to her neckline and discovers that two buttons are open, allowing her a glimpse at pale skin. She feels her own skin flush, feels her pulse quicken. Then brown eyes find green and Brenda sees how tired Sharon looks. The rush of adrenaline that pumps through her veins is replaced by the desire to… well, to what?

Brenda can't put it into words.

"What can I do for you, Chief?" Sharon asks tiredly.

Brenda smiles and Sharon finds it a little... disarming. There's something about the blonde Chief. She's selfish, petty and shows a disregard for the rules but Sharon also appreciates the devotion to her job and the desire to find closure.

"Actually, I came to bring you somethin.'" Brenda's smile is still in place. It warms Sharon a little. "A little birdie told me it's your birthday today, Capt'n."

There and then Sharon vows to find out which one of her detectives royally fucked up by letting that particular piece of information slip. She suspects the 'little birdie' Brenda is referring to is most likely Provenza but someone had to have told him.

"Are you celebratin?' Brenda asks the question in all innocence but Sharon can't help but arch an eyebrow.

"Yes, I'm celebrating by giving myself a shit ton of paperwork and sleep deprivation."

Brenda's face falls a little and her smile falters. "I heard what happened," she softly says. She sounds genuinely sincere and Sharon knows Brenda has dealt with plenty of rough cases herself to know what a situation like this is like.

"If there's anything Major Crimes can do to help, just let me know."

Clearly Sharon's face betrays her surprise because Brenda adds, "Don't look so surprised, Capt'n. I can be nice sometimes."

Sharon watches as Brenda reaches inside that godawful tote she always carries around and pulls out an elegantly wrapped present. She then extends her hand to give it to Sharon and the older woman tentatively reaches out and takes it. She feels Brenda's fingertips against her own and the younger woman quickly pulls away, then casts her eyes down, and Sharon shamelessly stares at her because she can't remember ever having seen Brenda looking shy.

"Happy Birthday," Brenda whispers.

Sharon studies the present. The paper is silver and is finished off by a silver ribbon. "What is it?" she asks. It doesn't feel heavy and the wrapping paper is generic, gives her no clue as to where the present is from.

"Just a little somethin.'" Brenda's eyes snap back up unexpectedly and holds Sharon's gaze. Her brown eyes have darkened a little and something about the blonde's face has changed.

"You didn't have to buy me anything," Sharon answers. She still holds Brenda's gaze. "Thank you."

Brenda speaks softly when she says, "It reminded me of you."

She turns and before Sharon has a chance to say anything, Brenda has disappeared into a haze of blonde curls and pink florals, leaving Sharon standing in the corridor. She only realises she's still staring at the spot where Brenda stood when Detective Elliot comes up behind her and snaps her out of her distraction.

"Captain?"

"Yes?" She turns slightly, clutching Brenda's gift to her chest.

Elliot tells her that one of the officers involved in the shooting has arrived with his attorney and she nods.

"You and Lieutenant Jones can go ahead," she instructs. "I'll be in my office."

She closes the door behind her and heaves a sigh in relief. Her desk is littered with paperwork, something else that drives her to distraction because she prefers her work space clean and tidy, and her blazer has been haphazardly thrown over the back of her chair. Sharon circles her desk and sinks down into her chair. She places the gift in front of her and carefully begins peeling away the wrapping paper. It comes apart easily and the ribbon falls on the floor.

Inside the silver paper lies an elegant white wooden photo frame and when Sharon picks it up she realises that there isn't a picture inside but a card. The writing on it is dainty and small flowers, she recognises them as cherry blossoms, decorate the corners.

It is when she reads the first line that Sharon recognises the poem as Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" and she smiles to herself. She has read it before, more than once, but never quite like this, with the words behind glass and inside a frame in her hand. Her smile only grows wider as she continues to read.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sharon leans back in her chair and remembers the conversation she had with Brenda a few weeks earlier in the Chief's office where she told Brenda that she had chosen IA as the quickest way to achieve rank, not because it was a path she'd wanted to take. Brenda had seemed surprised but now Sharon looks at the gift Brenda had given her and she smiles. Some of the tiredness seemed to ease out of her bones as her index finger ghosted over the thin piece of glass that covered the card with the poem and then and remembered what Brenda had said. "It reminded me of you."

Sharon looks back at the poem and realises that the words hit close to home because there is another path she hasn't taken, the path that could lead her to something new. But it is a road she has not taken, has chosen to stay away from.

Sharon closes her eyes, her fingers still on the glass as she silently accepts for herself that although Brenda bought this because it reminded her of Sharon, Sharon feels that the words behind the glass remind her of Brenda too.

Chapter Text

Brenda didn't know who had decided that going out for drinks had been a good idea. She hadn't wanted to go; she just wanted to curl up under a rock and die. It felt wrong to raise a glass to the fact that she was leaving the LAPD, especially considering the circumstances, and she wasn't sure she could face the disappointment on the faces of her friends for a second time. But Fritz had insisted she went and nearly dragged her out of the house and so now she found herself standing in the corner of the busy bar, clutching a tall glass of Merlot that had already been refilled once, and her eyes scanned the room.

Fritz was talking to Taylor, Provenza and Flynn were playing pool with Gabriel looking on. He seemed as forlorn as Brenda felt, having chosen to follow her to the DA's office because he knew that, despite it not being his fault that his girlfriend had been leaking information to Goldman, his place in the division has become near enough unmanageable.

Brenda looked to her left. Tao and Sanchez were standing a couple of feet away from her and Brenda could tell that Sanchez's eyes occasionally drifted in the direction of a woman sitting at the bar. She'd noticed that the woman was eyeing Sanchez as well. Oh well, at least someone was enjoying tonight.

Brenda's eyes were drawn to the bat's entrance when she felt the cool gust of air brush past her face. The door had opened and Sharon Raydor had walked in. From where she stood Brenda had a perfect view and she watched, transfixed, as the older woman walked up to the bar.

Sharon wore dark blue skin tight jeans. The denim hugged her curves in all the right places and the sight left Brenda struggling for air. The jeans were tucked into brown knee high leather boots with a slight heel and a silver buckle. The ensemble was finished off by a light purple button down shirt, tucked into the jeans, with the first couple of buttons undone, displaying just the hint of cleavage. Sharon's hair was half up and she'd opted not to wear her glasses, drawing more attention to the emerald colour of her eyes.

Brenda couldn't take her eyes off Sharon. It wasn't exactly a new occurrence. It had been happening a lot recently. First she'd begun to notice how gorgeous Sharon's legs were when she wore one of her pencil skirts. Then she'd started staring at Sharon's ass but it wasn't until she caught herself fantasising about what was hidden behind Sharon's pink blouse one day that Brenda knew that she was in trouble. She was attracted to Sharon Raydor.

The attraction had changed into a full blown infatuation that Brenda struggled to hide. The more time she spent with Sharon, the worse it became. All she could think about was Sharon goddamn Raydor with her perfect hair, gorgeous hands and stunning eyes. Brenda seemed stuck in an almost permanent state of frustration and arousal, which had certainly led to some interesting encounters in the bedroom with Fritz - who probably thought she was having some kind of hormonal midlife crisis- you but Brenda could only think of soft hands that roamed her body and she'd lost count of how many times she climaxed seeing Sharon's face, fighting to keep the brunette's name from falling off her tongue.

"Chief?"

Brenda snapped out of her thoughts and looked up, bewildered. Sharon had sidled up beside her, clutching a glass of what looked like whiskey on the rocks. Something unidentifiable flickered behind Sharon's eyes and Brenda shook her head.

"It's Brenda now, Cap'n. I ain't the Chief anymore."

"You'll always be the Chief to them," Sharon mused, her eyes drifting around the bar. "And to me." Her lips closed around the edge of the whiskey glass. Brenda watched how Sharon's lipstick left behind a perfect mark.

"I know Taylor wants you to replace me," she deadpanned, drawing a soft gasp from Sharon. Brenda looked at the older woman. "If you're thinkin' about turnin' it down... Don't."

"How did you..."

"I don't matter how I know," Brenda answered but she knew that Sharon understood there was only one person who could've told her and Brenda for one was really glad Will Pope had decided not to show his face tonight because telling her Sharon was taking over Major Crimes was just about the only good thing he'd done recently. Brenda wasn't even sure she recognised him anymore.

She clutched her wineglass a little higher. "Fact is that I know and I want you to accept the job."

Sharon took another small sip from her whiskey. The alcohol burnt down her throat. "They are not going to like that," she contemplated. She then turned to Brenda, curiosity etched across her face, having let the statement sink in. "Why me?"

Brenda downed the remainder of her wine, shot Sharon a glance and started for the door. She heard Sharon's footsteps behind her and together they stepped out into the Los Angeles night. The bar lay on a quiet side street two blocks from Parker Center and it was a favourite watering hole for cops but tonight it was rather quiet. Brenda looked up and down the street before turning the corner and stepping into the alley.

"If you are about to confide in me that you're going to kill Chief Pope then maybe I should go back inside," Sharon smiled. It was a smile that set Brenda's insides on fire. She was burning up alive. "I'd rather not be the one that brings you in."

"I don't want the rest of my division to hear us," Brenda explained. Being outside was refreshing, allowed her to clear her head. "But Sharon, I know Taylor wants you to lead Major Crimes. I'm asking you, please accept the job. No one knows Major Crimes better than you." She smirked. "You sure audited us thoroughly enough."

Sharon smirked too. "That I did."

"I mean it, Sharon." Brenda put a hand on the other woman's arm. She felt the warmth of Sharon's skin through the thin fabric of her shirt. She knew she should've pulled her hand away but she didn't. When she looked up at Sharon through her eyelashes, she found the older woman looking back at her with a slightly darkened look in her eyes.

"I don't trust anyone but you to lead Major Crimes."

Sharon, having grown more and more aware of the fact that she and Brenda were standing in a dark alley, away from prying eyes, dropped her eyes to Brenda's lips. They had parted a little, she noticed, and the lipstick Brenda wore made them seem even more gorgeous than usual.

"And why is that?" she softly asked. Brenda's hand was still on her arm and Sharon used her other hand to softly ghost over the back of Brenda's hand. The touch was feather light but still she felt the blonde Chief shudder.

Brenda's head was spinning. Was this actually happening? Was Sharon Raydor actually flirting with her?

Brenda took a step back. She collided with the wall. To her surprise, Sharon followed her. The shadows swallowed them up and she gasped when Sharon placed both her hands against the wall, just above Brenda's waist, trapping her. Brenda's heart pounded so loudly she thought Sharon would hear it.

"I think you know why."

"I think I know why we're out here, together," Sharon whispered. One finger began sliding up Brenda's arm until it reached her collar bone. Sharon revelled in the control she had over Brenda and licked her lips.

"And why is that?" Brenda purred, copying Sharon's earlier question.

"Oh, well, because despite those horrible skirts you were and that irritating accent..." Sharon leaned in a little. She was so close now that Brenda could feel her breathe against her neck. She felt like she was going to explode. She was throbbing between her legs and she knew that if Sharon made another move, she wouldn't be able to control herself.

"... You are an incredibly sexy woman, Brenda Leigh."

Fuck.

Brenda just gave up.

She lunged forward and roughly captured Sharon's lips with her own. She groaned when Sharon instantly opened her mouth and met her tongue. They battled for control for a few seconds before Brenda relented and allowed Sharon to take charge. She gasped into the kiss when Sharon cupped her breast trough her sweater and arched her back slightly.

Sharon massaged Brenda's breasts through the blonde's clothes and felt her nipples harden even through the layers. She peeled the white sweater down Brenda's arms until it fell to the floor. She wore a red and white checked dress with a few buttons along the top and Sharon made quick work of them. Brenda's hands were on Sharon's hips, pulling her ever closer. She'd pulled the blouse from Sharon's impossibly tight jeans and her hands grazed over warm, soft skin. Brenda cried out when Sharon unexpectedly pushed her knee between her legs.

Sharon's fingers ghosted over the white cotton of Brenda's bra before pulling the cup down and releasing the breast inside it. With a soft 'pop', the kiss ended and Brenda's head fell back when Sharon kissed down along the length of her neck. When Sharon took a hardened nipple into her mouth, Brenda felt like she was going to explode. Her fingers tangled in Sharon's brown locks and she lost any and all ability to think clearly. Heat pooled between her legs, arousal coiled in her stomach and all she wanted was for Sharon to... do whatever she wanted.

Sharon sucked softly on the perk nipple as her hands worked to release Brenda's other breast from its confinement. She cupped it with her right hand and her left hand replaced her mouth as she worked her way back up to Brenda's mouth. Brenda's hands fell from Sharon's hair down to her ass and she yanked at the waistband of her jeans to pull the older woman closer. She was panting and her eyes were dark with lust and desire.

"Sharon," she whispered as Sharon's tongue circled over her earlobe. "Oh..." Any other words died in the back of her throat. She was lost.

Sharon slowly inched up Brenda's dress up towards her thighs and followed the path of the fabric with her hand.

Neither stopped to think that they were doing this in the middle of a dark alley outside a cop bar where their colleagues and Brenda's husband were having drinks in honour of Brenda's new job. Neither of them cared. This had been a long time coming. Too long. It was inevitable. They couldn't carry on this dance around each other forever.

Sharon was tired of it. She was tired of accepting that she couldn't have Brenda because she was married. She was tired of holding back, of standing by and looking on how a Brenda stared at her with the same lust she felt, almost challenging her to act on it. Tonight she had given up because she simply couldn't bear it any longer. She had to know.

Brenda felt delirious. Her skin almost sizzled under Sharon's touch. It was as if her flesh was on fire, left burning by Sharon's hands. She was desperate; desperate to feel Sharon, to finally be able to really feel her. She arched her back slightly when she felt Sharon's hands on the soft flesh of her hips.

Sharon's lips moved back over Brenda's and the soft whimper that fell from the blonde's lip when Sharon's hand briefly ghosted over her sodden panties just vanished into the kiss. Brenda hungrily attacked Sharon's mouth, her teeth sinking down into Sharon's bottom lip, desperately seeking control. It resulted in an almost guttural moan from Sharon and Brenda thought that that sound alone would make her come.

"Please," she whispered into Sharon's ear when the older woman's lips moved down her neck. "Sharon, oh God... Please..."

She was so wet and so desperate and Brenda didn't even care that she was begging. She would drop down to her knees if it meant that Sharon would just touch her.

Sharon chuckled against Brenda's collar bone, her left hand cupping a breast as her right carefully pulled aside Brenda's panties. Hot, slick wetness greeted her fingers and she licked her lips as she slid her index finger through Brenda's warm, swollen folds.

Brenda hissed through clenched teeth and arched her hips forward, desperate for more. Her hands clawed at Sharon's blouse but she lacked the coordination to do anything other than tug at the fabric. Her head fell back against the brick wall and she wailed when Sharon finally pushed two fingers inside of her.

"Shit."

Brenda never swore during sex. She didn't need mind a bit of dirty talk but her mama had raised her with just enough manners, so swearing was something she didn't do. But right now, Brenda couldn't help it. And she didn't care either.

Sharon pumped her fingers out in a strong, steady rhythm and she watched with glee as Brenda's eyes rolled back into her head. The Chief's breasts looked phenomenal and Sharon attacked a perk nipple with her tongue. Brenda's hands flew into Sharon's brown locks, grabbing fistfuls of long hair.

Here she was, Sharon Raydor fucking Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson in a dark, dingy alley outside a cop bar. And Sharon didn't even care that it was anything but glamorous, that there was something almost scandalous about the way she had yanked up Brenda's skirt to her hips and pulled aside her panties, or the way that Brenda's breasts had been freed from her bra. She didn't care it wasn't sexy or romantic because this was something they both wanted and needed. Because Sharon knew she needed Brenda, she needed her more than an alcoholic needed liquor, and she knew that Brenda needed her too.

Brenda's body copied Sharon's thrusts and together they found a quick, steady rhythm. Sharon's free arm slipped around Brenda's waist to support her when she felt one of Brenda's legs hook around her hips. She hoisted the blonde a little higher and pressed her a little firmer against the wall to reassure the both of them that Brenda wouldn't fall. Brenda's other leg snaked around Sharon's waist too and now she was completely off the floor. It provides Sharon with an even better angle and she continued to piston her fingers harder and deeper into Brenda.

Brenda's nails sunk into Sharon's shoulders and neck, clinging and clawing at fabric and flesh and pulling at strands of hair. She lost any and all ability to think clearly and whimpered in pleasure.

"Sharon... Oh fuck... Sharon..."

Sharon relished in the sound of her name rolling of Brenda's lips and flicked her thumb over Brenda's clit. It resulted in a sharp outcry of delight and Brenda shuddered. She felt the familiar tightening in her belly and instantly began grinding against Sharon's hand, seeking release.

Sharon furiously began rubbing and flicking over Brenda's clit and pressed her warm mouth against Brenda's neck. She felt her thundering heartbeat against her lips and sucked down, hard enough for Brenda to feel but not hard enough to leave a mark. Brenda's walls began tightening around her fingers when she curled them inside her, her thumb pressed against Brenda's most sensitive spot.

"Oh yes... Please... Yes, Sharon... Right there... Sharon... SHARON!"

Brenda came as her lover's name fell from her lips,

Sharon felt a gush of warm, sticky liquid and stilled her hand, allowing Brenda to ride out the waves of her orgasm. The blonde had gone completely still and her eyes were closed but her head had fallen forward and Sharon rested her forehead against Brenda's. She then slowly pulled out her fingers and wiped them along her jeans.

Brenda lazily opened her eyes and unhooked her legs from Sharon's waist. She elegantly stepped back to the ground and with a shy smile put her bra back in place and began buttoning up her dress. When she looked back up she found that Sharon had started walking back towards the bar, her hips swaying slightly.

"Sharon?" Brenda called, confused. The brunette turned around.

Brenda caught up with her and took the older woman's hand. Dark eyes met green and she smiled seductively. "Sharon, I want to..." She smiled, "I want to touch you."

Sharon merely smiled. "No, no. It's my treat." She purees her lips. "You can pay me back another time."

And with those words she disappeared back into the bar.

Chapter Text

Brenda couldn't sleep. She tossed and turned but the bedsheets just felt like they were strangling her. Her body still hummed all over, she felt flushed, hot and warm. She could still feel Sharon's hands trailing over her skin, could still feel her mouth against her neck, her fingers between her thighs... The mere thought alone sent her back into a delirium Brenda wasn't sure she would be able to escape from. She wasn't even sure she wanted to.

Brenda turned her head and looked beside her. Fritz was asleep, curled up on his side, his back turned towards her. She hadn't been able to look at him all night, hadn't been able to talk to him. He'd assumed she was upset over what happened earlier that day and even apologised for bringing her to the bar and upsetting her. Brenda hadn't corrected him, she'd just gone to the bathroom and showered but no amount of water could erase Sharon from her skin. She'd gone to bed before him and when he joined her he asked if she was ok. She lied and said she was just tired. What was she going to say? "Sorry, honey, but I had sex with Sharon Raydor in an alley while you were just a few feet away?"

Brenda sighed and folded her hands beneath her head. She knew she couldn't carry on like this. She'd known for some time but had tried to ignore it. It had been eating away at her for months. It had left cracks in her marriage, cracks that had begun to crumble and she knew that no amount of glue would be able to fix the pieces back together. Now that she knew that Sharon felt the same way, she was prepared to give it all up. Her marriage, her job, her home... Everything that was stable about her life. She was prepared to throw caution to the wind and walk away from everything if it meant she could have the one thing that made her feel alive.

Brenda kicked the covers away and slipped out of bed. She heaved a sigh, relieved to no longer feel Fritz's body under the sheets. Wearing just a pair of black panties and a white tank top, she left the bedroom after grabbing her cell phone from her bedside table. She found Sharon's number and hit the dial button.

"Hello?"

Sharon answered on the first ring and Brenda suspected she wasn't the only one who couldn't sleep. She imagined Sharon sitting by the phone, wondering whether to call or not. Had she been lying awake too, unable to shut down the images inside her head?

"I need you."

"Brenda..." Sharon's voice was hoarse.

"I don't care about the consequences, Sharon," Brenda cut her off. It was true. She was way passed caring. To hell with it all. "I need you."

Sharon sighed. "Oh God..." Her voice dropped to a whisper. Brenda heard the rustling of bedsheets and she imagined Sharon lying in her bed. Had she been staring at the ceiling too? Had she been thinking about Brenda? What was she wearing? Was she wearing anything at all?

"Can you come over?" Sharon's voice was thick with urgency.

Brenda almost exploded at the suggestion and she clutched her phone a little harder. She knew that when morning came, everything would come crashing down but she didn't care. Sharon was like a drug and after just one shot, Brenda had become addicted. And she needed more. She wanted more and she didn't give a damn about what it would lead to.

"Yes," she husked. Her lips were dry. She licked them. It didn't help. "Yes, I can come over."

Sharon answered, "I'll wait for you."

Then she hung up.

Brenda quietly padded back into the bedroom, grabbed a pair of jeans from the chair where she kept some of her discarded clothes, slipped them on and found a simple grey sweater on the floor. She put it on over her tank top and then turned in the doorway, her gaze falling on Fritz. He would wake in an empty bed tomorrow morning, would wake up to a life that would be completely different to what it had been before.

"Goodbye," she whispered to the quiet room and left.

*

The second her hand made contact with Sharon's front door, it swung open, revealing Sharon clad in grey sweatpants and a black sleeveless vest. Her green eyes instantly darkened and when Brenda stepped over the threshold, she grabbed Sharon's arms and pushed her up against the wall. The older woman let out a soft "oomph" just as Brenda's hungry lips found hers. Sharon's fingers tangled themselves in blonde curls and pulled Brenda deeper into the kiss. With her foot, she kicked the front door shut.

They were panting when they parted. Brenda's eyes were almost black with lust. "Bedroom," she whispered, her breath warm against Sharon's cheek. She left butterfly kisses there, warm and soft. She felt Sharon's hard nipples through the cotton of her shirt and smiled. Brenda hooked her index finger behind the waistband of Sharon's sweats, pulling her closer. She could almost smell Sharon's arousal from where she stood and Brenda licked her lips.

"Come here. Let me fix it."

Sharon took Brenda's hand and led her down the hallway to her bedroom. The door was open and the only light came from a small lamp on the nightstand. Sharon's sheets were dark purple and soft and silky against her skin. Brenda realised Sharon had somehow peeled the sweater down her arms when she landed on her back on the sheets, Sharon hovering over her.

Brenda pushed herself up on her elbows and reached for Sharon's top. She peeled the black fabric up and away, revealing a toned stomach and bare breasts. The sight drew a gasp from Brenda's lips and she cupped Sharon's breasts and she felt Sharon's nipples harden against the palms of her hands. She softly rolled one of the nipples between her index finger and thumb and watched as Sharon's face changed into a mask of pleasure.

She pulled Sharon down on top of her, then quickly flipped her over so she was pinned down against the sheets and smirked in satisfaction. She had the upper hand, for once, and watched the woman underneath her intently. Sharon's chest was rising and falling rapidly. Brenda's gaze was drawn to the hard, pink nipples. Sharon's breasts were perfect, she thought. Her skin was covered in a light dusting of freckles. Brenda leaned in, pressed her lips against Sharon's neck and kissed her softly. She felt fingers tug at her curls and in response, she nipped at the glowing skin.

"Oh yes..." Sharon whispered and she arched her hips up to meet Brenda's body. Somehow they effortlessly moved until Brenda's knee was pressed between Sharon's thighs.

Brenda licked and kissed her way down Sharon's neck to her breasts and her warm mouth closed around a nipple. She bit it, softly, and felt the blood rushing to her head. Her hands travelled over Sharon's stomach down to her hips and she pulled at the grey sweats. They came down Sharon's legs easily and Sharon elegantly kicked them off. They landed somewhere at the end of the bed. Brenda hooked her fingers behind the simple black panties Sharon wore and peeled them teasingly slowly down Sharon's thighs. She blew softly against Sharon's glowing skin, resulting in a shudder.

Brenda then pushed herself up and removed her own tank top. She watched Sharon lick her lips as she exposed her breasts and the older woman's hands reached up. She cupped Brenda's breasts and hungrily, Brenda crashed their mouths back together. The jeans she wore became increasingly uncomfortable and they rubbed between her legs but not in the right way and she sighed contently when Sharon popped the button and undid the zip before yanking them down. She pulled down Brenda's panties at the same time and finally, finally they were naked.

Sharon felt amazing. She was soft and warm and her curves were perfect and Brenda didn't think she would ever get enough of watching her. She let her tongue trail over Sharon's breasts, around perk nipples, down towards her belly button. She saw the faint C-section scar and observed the dark curls between Sharon's thighs. The older woman spread her legs a little, enough for Brenda to understand what Sharon wanted, needed her to do.

Brenda kissed Sharon, hard, at the same time as she pushed two fingers inside the older woman. Sharon's back arched off the bed and her nails clawed at Brenda's back. She would surely leave marks but Brenda didn't care. She revelled in the feeling of being inside Sharon, of feeling her, touching her, tasting her. It was better than any fantasy she'd had.

Their encounter in the alley had been more about fucking than it had been about making love. Brenda wanted it to be different this time but it seemed that Sharon had different ideas because she hooked a leg around Brenda's waist and pulled her towards her. She groaned when Brenda pushed her fingers inside as far as she could. Whatever ideas Brenda had had about doing this, they all just disappeared. Her instinct took over.

"Oh..." Sharon's eyes snapped open and she looked up at Brenda. And then she said it. She said the words Brenda had never thought she'd hear but had imagined a thousand times whenever she daydreamed about taking Sharon on her desk, or in her car or up against a wall…

"Brenda, fuck me."

And Brenda did.

She pumped her fingers in and out of Sharon, quickly matching the rhythm set by her lover's body. She caressed Sharon's breasts, pinched her nipples. Searing lips came together in a passionate, sloppy kiss. It was wet and messy and out of control but Brenda didn't care. All she cared about was feeling Sharon. She had her where she wanted her and she wasn't going to let her go.

"Brenda... Oh yes... Ooooh..."

Brenda loved the sound of Sharon's voice. Husky, smoky... Like she'd spent too much time in some dark bar filled with cigarette smoke. She pulled her lips away from Sharon's mouth and attacked the side of her neck. The bruise she left on Sharon's pulse point would be visible for days. She was marking Sharon as hers. Anyone who saw the bruise would know that someone had left it there.

Brenda's mouth moved further down over Sharon's stomach and she slid down her lover's body. She hooked her left hand around Sharon's thigh, gently pushing it apart, and hummed in delight when Sharon's nails clawed at her scalp. She watched for a moment as her fingers worked Sharon's sex and then slid her tongue through the molten wetness. Sharon almost exploded around her fingers.

"Brenda... FUCK!" Sharon's eyes were wide open and her toes curled up.

Brenda repeated the action and her tongue ghosted over Sharon's swollen clit. She stayed there, sucking, licking and softly nibbling, as her fingers pushed in and out of her lover. Faster, harder... She listened to Sharon's pleas.

Sharon knew she was going to come soon. She'd known the second Brenda touched her. It didn't take much. She tried to drag it out, tried to prolong it, but her heart pounded in the back of her throat and she lost the ability to speak. Brenda's fingers inside her, her mouth against her clit... Sharon lost it and she let go. She came with an outcry of pleasure.

Brenda felt Sharon tighten around her fingers and tasted the sweet, slightly musky arousal on her lips. She circled Sharon's clit with her tongue until Sharon clumsily pushed her away.

Brenda pulled out her fingers and wiped them on the sheets before sliding up along Sharon's body and lay down beside her. The sheets smelt clean, like fresh washing, and they were soft and felt expensive. Brenda liked them and she gently pulled the covers over her naked body. For a little while, neither of them moved. Sharon was fighting to regain control over her body and Brenda just wasn't sure what she was supposed to do next.

Stay? Leave?

Sharon rolled onto her side, facing Brenda, and her arm snaked around her lover's waist. Through heavy lidded eyes she looked up at Brenda, her fingers drawing meaningless patterns over Brenda's hipbone. Her voice was soft, like a murmur, when she answered the question that was going round in Brenda's head and whispered, "Stay."

Brenda curled up beside Sharon, her face buried in the crook of her neck. It felt... right. It felt right to be here. Their bodies fitted so perfectly together and they needed no words. She sighed contently as her arm snuck around Sharon's waist and under Sharon's soft ministrations, she drifted off to sleep.

When morning came, she never went home.

Chapter Text

The holidays meant chaos. But the good kind. The kind that consisted of family, too much food, too much wine and so much laughter, their stomachs would hurt. The holidays also meant warmth and love and sharing, being together, and reflecting on how far they'd come.

The house smelt delicious, courtesy of Jimmy and Frank. Frank was a chef after all and no one but his husband dared to enter his domain. The kitchen was off limits unless it involved getting drinks or, in the case of those under the age of ten, stealing snacks.

Sharon looked around the hustle and bustle of the living room. Clay sat in his arm chair with James, his two year old great-grandson, on his lap. James' mother Charlene and his father Mark looked on.

Rusty and his boyfriend Lewis sat on the couch. In between them were Nina and Leo, the eight year old twins of Clay Jr and his wife. Their parents were standing next to Charlene and Mark. Bobby and Amy, Charlene's parents, occupied the other couch. Ricky, still single, and Emily and her boyfriend Craig hovered outside the kitchen door, clearly contemplating whether it was worth risking Frank's wrath by trying to get hold of some food. Emily's baby bump, small and proud at six months gestation, looked beautiful in the black dress she was wearing.

Family was their everything and every year when everyone gathered here, in Atlanta, Sharon silently said a little prayer. Years ago she wouldn't have dared to believe that it would be like this. That the fact that she and Brenda finding each other could lead to their entire family sitting in one room, the lights from the massive Christmas tree brightening up the house.

Six years ago Brenda had turned up on Sharon's doorstep one night, two days after Fritz had announced that she'd been offered a job in Washington. Brenda had told Sharon that she and Fritz were in the middle of a divorce and that that was the reason she was moving to Washington. It had been Sharon who persuaded Brenda that she couldn't keep running from her demons and that she had to face whatever came on her path head on. Somehow it had led to them talking till the early hours of the morning and Rusty had walked into the living room to find Brenda asleep on the couch the next day. What had started off as two old friends picking up where they'd left off quickly, very quickly, changed into something else. Sharon had made the first move, kissing Brenda one night as she was about to leave. After that night, Brenda never left.

Three years later, Clay had walked Brenda down the aisle for a third time in the back garden of the home where he and Willie Rae had lived after their retirement. A single chair had been left empty in the front row, quietly marking her absence, and Brenda had cried when Sharon paid tribute to her during her speech. After that day, they were the O'Dwyer-Johnson family. Sharon, after divorcing Jack, dropped the Raydor from her name because it was his last name and she didn't want the ties to her old life anymore. For years it had suited her but now she wanted to be her own person. Going back to O'Dwyer felt good. Adding Johnson to it had felt perfect.

It was when Sharon let her gaze drift around the room for a second time that she noticed her wife's absence. It was Christmas Eve and in an hour they would all be sitting around the table, something Sharon knew Brenda wouldn't miss for the world. If it was at all possible, Brenda was even prouder of their mixed family than Sharon was.

Sharon quietly exited the living room, took her jacket from the back of the door in the hall and stepped out of the front door. She knew she didn't have to go far. Only a couple of blocks and even though she only came here once or twice a year, she knew the neighborhood like the back of her hand.

She walked down the street, past houses lit up by Christmas lights. Reindeer on front lawns, snowmen, and Santa Claus. Flashing lights in trees, wreaths on front doors, and the smell of food coming from kitchens... Christmas was Sharon's favorite time of year.

She saw the church at the end of the road and crossed the street. At the back of the church was a small cemetery and as she walked through the graves, many of the gravestones adorned with fresh flowers and wreaths, she spotted her wife's kneeling form over by the wall. Sharon stopped walking, allowing Brenda another moment of quiet contemplation, and then she said, "I thought I'd find you here."

Brenda looked up. There was sadness in her eyes but she smiled when she saw Sharon. "Just wanted to say 'Merry Christmas' to Mama, is all."

Sharon looked past Brenda at the headstone. Willie Rae Johnson's name was cut out of the white marble. The flowers were fresh and she recognised Brenda's curvy handwriting on the card. Sharon snaked her arm around her wife's waist.

"Merry Christmas, Willie Rae." Sharon's voice was soft.

When she turned to look at her wife, she saw Brenda wiping at her eyes. It had been almost ten years since Willie Rae passed away and a lot had changed but grief... Grief eased only slowly and Sharon knew that during these moments, when their family was together, Brenda missed her mother more than anything.

"Thank you, Sharon, for bein' here," Brenda whispered. Her hand slipped into Sharon's the way it had done hundreds of times before. She swallowed. The lump in her throat was thick and hard and it wouldn't shift. "I wish you'd gotten to know her better."

Sharon studied Brenda for a long moment. The lines around her eyes had become a little more obvious in recent years and Brenda had started dying her hair in her favourite shade of blonde the day she saw the first grey hair, but to Sharon she was still the same beautiful woman she had met years ago.

Softly she said, "But I do know her, Brenda. I see her every day." Brenda looked up at her with big, questioning brown eyes and Sharon smiled. "In you."

Brenda's eyes glistened with tears. "Thank you," she whispered. She laced her fingers through Sharon's.

Sharon smiled. "Dinner is almost ready," she said and squeezed Brenda's hand, then leaned in and kissed her softly. "Come on, I'll walk you home."

Chapter Text

She'd bought the house a year ago not long after Christmas because her condo had been too small to home all three of her children and their partners for the holidays. She'd never expected to buy another house again after her kids had moved out but having everyone stay at two different hotels for the holidays had proved to be a disaster.

So now Sharon Raydor owned a house again. For most of the year it was quiet because Rusty was the only one still living at home but since all her kids had a key, there had been two occasions now where she'd come home from work to find Emily sitting on her couch, a cup of tea in front of her and engrossed in a book.

And now the holidays were upon them again and the house was alive with voices, laughter and footsteps. But aside from her three kids and their partners, there was another person in the house. Someone who Sharon had never expected to see on her front porch but who had been there one night, waiting for her. And since that night three months ago, Brenda Leigh Johnson hadn't left. She occupied the guest bedroom down the hall, next to Rusty's room, had her own favourite coffee cup in the kitchen, constantly left the lid off the toothpaste and on more than one occasion Sharon had tripped over Brenda's shoes before picking them up and putting them where they belonged.

Brenda and Fritz had moved to Washington a few months earlier because they were both offered career opportunities. Fritz was leading an anti-terrorism unit at the FBI and Brenda had been offered a job with Homeland Security. But their marriage hadn't coped with the pressure, or perhaps it had just been a matter of time as the cracks had been showing for some time, and Brenda had returned to Los Angeles with a single suitcase in her hand and nowhere to go. Sharon had opened up her home and, albeit reluctantly, she had to admit that she enjoyed having Brenda around because Rusty was away more and more now that he and his boyfriend were getting serious and having Brenda in the house kept the silence at bay. And Brenda was a good roommate and an even better friend, even if she did have some annoying habits, filled the freezer with chocolate ice cream instead of strawberry frozen yoghurt and liked to watch trashy TV.

With only two days till Christmas, the house was once again full of people, food and atmosphere. The lights in the tree looked spectacular and complimented the many ornaments she had collected over the years as well as her traditional silver and white baubles. She and Brenda had put up the tree together, whilst drinking two bottles of wine, and Sharon was still amazed it hasn't turned out to be a disaster. As soon as he arrived, Ricky had put up the Christmas village and Emily had decorated most of the windows and door frames with lights and garlands and snowflakes. Now that darkness had fallen, the lights lit up the living room, casting a warm glow, and they were watching a horribly cheesy Christmas movie. Sharon didn't want to leave but the ringing of her cell phone twenty minutes earlier had announced a dead body and she was about to walk out.

"Do you really have to go, Mom?" Ricky asked. He looked deflated. Her job had always been hard on him but the thought of his mother potentially missing Christmas, devastated him.

Sharon sighed. The body was somewhere on Mulholland, which meant it could just about be anywhere. "I'm afraid so."

"But you'll be back, right?" Emily looked at her expectantly.

"I hope so."

"But it's Christmas!" Ricky objected.

"And more murders occur during the holidays than any other of the time of the year," Brenda piped up and smirked. She looked around the room. She stood in the doorway of the kitchen, spoon in hand, and an apron on. Dinner was on her tonight. The smile on her face was almost devious. "Though I have no idea why."

Sharon turned to look at Brenda. "You sure you're going to be ok?" Brenda nodded. "You're not going to burn down my kitchen?" Brenda shook her head and teasingly stuck out her tongue.

"Ok," Sharon said and leaned over the sofa so she could kiss Ricky and Rusty on the top of their heads and she ruffled their hair. Joanne, Ricky's girlfriend, and Thomas, Rusty's boyfriend sat on the floor and Sharon waved at them. Then she turned to Emily and her boyfriend Craig who were sitting in the arm chairs and kissed them too.

"Bye," Emily smiled.

Sharon smiled too. "Bye."

She turned on her heel and encountered Brenda directly behind her. Without thinking she leaned in like she had done with everyone else and kissed her, her lips landing on the corner of Brenda's mouth. Sharon only realized she'd done it when she became aware of six sets of eyes, seven when she included Brenda's, fixed on her, all looking shocked, and then she noticed Brenda's deep pink blush. The blonde sheepishly smiled. Sharon felt her own cheeks turn red.

Before Sharon could speak, Brenda just tucked a strand of hair behind the older woman's ear, readjusted the collar of her shirt and said, "Have a good day at work." Brown eyes twinkled with amusement and she added, "Honey."

Sharon opened her mouth to speak but no words came out. She merely looked at Brenda. She had seen her standing in this kitchen so many times but something was different now. It was almost Christmas. Her whole family was here. And Brenda was here too. It felt right. Somewhere in her chest something fluttered and Sharon's stomach tied itself into knots. She averted her eyes, picked up her keys and without looking back she walked out of the house. The front door fell shut behind her when she stepped out onto the porch. There, in the silence of the evening air, Brenda's words still rang in her head. "Have a good day at work." And then, "Honey."

Sharon cast a glance over her shoulder and through the living room window she caught a glimpse of everyone, including Brenda, sitting in the living room. The longer she looked, the more Sharon realized how long it had been since anyone had said those words to her and how wonderful it felt to hear them from Brenda Leigh Johnson. She kept her eyes fixed on the smiling blonde and decided there and then that wanted to hear them again.

Chapter Text

The grass was soft underneath her shoes and the trees provided shade from the burning Los Angeles sun. She carried the white and yellow flowers in her hand and her eyes went hidden behind big black sunglasses. She'd bound her hair back in a simple, loose ponytail.

She walked along the narrow path between the rows of graves until, just a few steps ahead, she saw the familiar headstone. She held still and felt the sharp pang of hurt and loss in her chest as she looked at the name engraved into the grey marble. She'd looked at it so many times but she would never get used to it and it would never not hurt. Every time she stood here, every time she came home at night and faced the emptiness of the living room where they had laughed, joked, kissed and made love, every time she slipped under the cold sheets of their bed, the hurt would overwhelm her and another small piece of her heart crumbled and withered. She wondered if at some point there would just be nothing left.

Brenda knelt down into the soft grass and placed the flowers against the headstone. The white formed a sharp contrast against the green and grey. There were more flowers. Some she begun to wilt but one looked fresh. A glimpse at the card confirmed her suspicion. "It's not the same without you, Captain." The handwriting belonged to Louie Provenza.

Brenda sat back and stared at her lover's name etched into stone. It had been almost two years since that fateful night. Two years since the life she and Sharon had only just begun to build was brutally cut short. A single bullet fired in a frenzied shootout between a crazed suspect and the LAPD had changed the course of their lives. It had changed everything.

Sharon hadn't worn a vest. She'd rolled up at the scene to help out Sykes and Flynn who were engaged in a shootout. She'd been on her way home, to Brenda, when the call came in. Sharon had turned the car around and found Sykes and Flynn engaging the suspect on his front lawn, barricaded behind his car. They were behind their own car, guns drawn. Three black-and-whites had turned up too and all the officers were engaged in the shoot out. And then, somehow, Sharon got shot and everything went to hell. Flynn had shot the suspect and it had been over. Since then, since seeing Sharon sprawled out on the tarmac, blood pouring from her chest, he hadn't been able to pull a gun.

Brenda found out afterwards that Provenza had insisted he be the one to tell her. When he showed up on the porch of the house she and Sharon shared, Brenda knew before he even spoke and she'd just asked, "Is she alive?" He drove her to the hospital and together they waited. Four agonizing hours of sitting in silence, not knowing what would happen. Four hours where she replayed every memory she and Sharon had made over and over again in her head. Provenza was there when the doctor came and told her Sharon was gone, he was there when she screamed and cried and he was the one to drive her home and stay with her.

Brenda closed her eyes. "I miss you," she said softly. She'd gotten used to sitting here and talk to Sharon like she used to. Sometimes it would almost feel like the nights they sat on the couch together, talking about their day. This was where she felt closest to Sharon. "The kids came over during the weekend. I think Rusty's strugglin' with the upcomin' anniversary." She opened her eyes. Sharon's name stared back at her. Brenda wasn't sure how long it had been since Rusty last visited his mother's grave. He didn't like coming here.

"I dreamt about you last night, Sharon. I walked into the living room and you were just there. On the couch, reading, like you always did. And I just... I just wanted to touch you one last time. I wanted to so badly but you were gone before I could."

She looked down at her hands. It had been so long since she had last felt Sharon's skin or heard her laugh. All she had were her memories and her dreams. Sharon's kids, all three of them, still visited regularly, and Brenda treated them as her own. They all dealt with their mother's death differently but Rusty worried her the most. He had already lost too many people in his life, was already too damaged and scared. She wished he would talk to her more but he stayed quiet. She hoped he would come to her eventually. When he was ready, she would be there for him,

She sat in the grass for a little while longer and felt the sun on her face before eventually getting up. She picked up the old and withered flowers and threw them away. Then Brenda lay her hand on top of the headstone and for a moment she pretended the marble wasn't cold but she could feel Sharon's warmth beneath her hand.

But when she walked away, her fingertips felt cold.

Chapter Text

The Murder Room was so crowded, Sharon felt like she was a sardine in a very small tin. Everywhere she looked there were uniformed police officers and detectives. Most were standing around talking. Every desk and chair was occupied. The sound of too many voices was smothering. The shooting of a cop always attracted a larger crowd because half the precinct the cop belonged to would turn up at all hours offering help or looking for information. This was no different. The death of Officer Laura Gonzalez at the hands of an unknown assailant had angered the entire LAPD, especially since Officer Gonzalez and her partner, Officer Martin Doyle, had been lured to a particular address before being shot at from the roof by a sniper. Gonzalez had been hit in the head and died instantly. Doyle was shot in the shoulder and was in stable condition in the hospital.

The Major Crimes Division had been working overtime for three days now to try and find the killer, but without luck. The frustration was palpable in the air, the anger etched across people's faces. Sharon felt that same anger, the same frustration. She had worked too many of these cases, had seen too many other pictures plastered across a white board. Shadowing Major Crimes as part of her audit had become second nature and this investigation had shifted the attention focused on her to something, or someone, else. For a while at least, Sharon wasn't the most hated person in the room.

Her gaze drifted around the murder room and came to a rest on the door. There, talking to Flynn, stood Brenda. Even from behind Sharon could see that the blonde's shoulders were slumped. Her hair was frizzy, her curls were held together by a silver hair clip, and she wore yesterday's clothes; her pink floral dress was wrinkled and Sharon knew the blazer Brenda had thrown on that morning, the emergency one she kept in her office, hid a coffee stain.

She watched as Brenda turned around, how her brown eyes longingly fixed on her office. Sharon also saw how Brenda chewed her bottom lip, saw the dark rings around her eyes and the paleness of her skin. Brenda's office was being used as another interview room. There were too many officers to speak to and they were running out of spaces to put them all. Currently Tao sat behind Brenda's desk, with Sanchez standing by the door. A uniformed officer sat in one of the arm chairs. They'd been talking for at least thirty minutes.

Brenda's gaze fell on Sharon and from across the room, she smiled. It was the most genuine smile Sharon had seen all day and it lit up Brenda's tired eyes. Sharon's stomach did a double flip the way it always did when Brenda looked at her, when the blonde smiled. They were professional at work, as best as they could be, and she doubted anyone knew what was going on between them. Not even Brenda's husband suspected that at least twice a week, Brenda sought comfort in Sharon's arms.

Brenda walked over to Sharon and leaned against the desk. She rubbed her temples and let out a tired moan. Her body ached.

"Anything?" Sharon asked softly. She let her fingers dance over Brenda's hip. The touch was soft, gentle and to an innocent bystander, near enough impossible to see. Brenda shifted a little closer to her.

"I can't think," Brenda sighed. "It's so busy and so loud and I miss my office and I need to..." She looked around, trying to find some place to sit, to rest her weary body and allow herself a moment to gather herself. The weight of the world rested on her shoulders and she was tired of carrying it.

She hadn't slept for more than three hours in the last two days and lived off coffee and Reese's Cups. To feel Sharon, just to sit next to her, made her feel less weary.

Sharon stood up and took Brenda's arm. "Take my seat," she said quietly and pushed Brenda into the chair. The blonde sat down and leaned back into Sharon.

Grateful. Loving.

Brenda looked up at her secret lover with big brown eyes and sighed. She felt Sharon's hand on her arm. "What would I do without you, Sharon?" she whispered.

Sharon never wanted to find out.

Chapter Text

She heard the front door open, the familiar click of the lock as the key turned. She listened. She recognised the footsteps on the hardwood floor, the sound of shoes being kicked off followed by the soft steps of bare feet approaching. She didn't look up when she felt soft hands in her hair, didn't move when warm lips kissed her just below her ear.

"Hey," Brenda whispered into Sharon's ear as she lent over the couch. She breathed in Sharon's familiar perfume. "Sorry I'm late."

"Long day?" Sharon lazily asked as Brenda circled the couch. She put down the book she'd been reading and her eyes fixed on the blonde.

"Traffic. Big pile up."

Brenda flopped down on the couch and pulled her feet up underneath herself. Sharon had lit candles and the living room felt warm and cosy. It was a welcome change from a big traffic jam. She loved coming home at night and find Sharon like this. Some nights Sharon was working late but on nights like this, when they were both home together, Brenda loved it. Her brown eyes focused on Sharon.

"I had to take a massive detour but so did everyone else. Felt like I was stuck forever." She laced her fingers through her curls as she freed them from the restrictive bun she'd wound them up in earlier that morning. The back of her head hurt because it had been a little too tight.

"Have you eaten?"

The brunette nodded and peered at her girlfriend over the rim of her glasses. Brenda looked gorgeous in her fitted light blue dress. It was new. She'd bought it only last week. Her reading glasses were perched on her head. Sharon knew Brenda spent most of her time wearing them these days. The DA's office had a lot of paperwork. It was a big change from what she'd faced on a day to day basis at the LAPD.

"There are left overs in the fridge."

Brenda's eyes narrowed at that statement. "What is it?" She was clearly contemplating ordering something if she didn't like what was left.

"Why can't you just eat whatever's on the menu?" Sharon teased but then she smiled. Brenda wasn't exactly known for her adventurous eating habit. "It's Chinese."

Brenda got up and walked into the kitchen of the condo she and Sharon shared. She opened the fridge and found three different cartons standing on the middle shelf. After checking their content, Brenda emptied all the boxes onto a plate and put it in the microwave. From the cupboard she took a wineglass, found the bottle of Merlot she had opened the previous night and poured herself a generous glass of the red liquid. The microwave beeped and she took out her plate.

"By the way,"' Sharon called from the living room. "I drove by that cake shop on Melrose on my way home."

Brenda put down her fork. She knew exactly which shop Sharon was talking about. It sold the best chocolate cakes in Los Angeles. It was expensive and Brenda usually only indulged like that when it was her birthday.

"What?"

"Cupboard on the far right."

Brenda could hear the smile in Sharon's voice as she opened the cupboard and found the pink box sitting on the shelf.

Sharon's voice came from behind her and Brenda turned to find her leaning against the wall, hands casually tucked into the pockets of her black slacks. She was barefoot and had removed her glasses. Back lit by the light from the living room, she looked stunning.

"I saved you a slice."

"Thank you," Brenda smiled and crossed the kitchen. She kissed Sharon softly on her lips. Briefly at first but then the kiss intensified.

Brenda fumbled with Sharon's shirt and her hand traveled over Sharon's soft stomach. The older woman caught Brenda's wrist and pulled away slightly, resulting in a disapproving groan from Brenda.

Sharon had one eye on the plate of food on the counter. "You're dinner is getting cold."

Brenda softly nibbled on Sharon's bottom lip. "I'm not hungry anymore," she purred. She wiggled her hand free from Sharon's grip and cupped her lover's breast through her bra. She smirked. "At least not for Chinese food."

Chapter Text

She had not expected to see her. She didn't even know she was back. But when the rumour reached her, she almost ran down to Major Crimes to see if it was true. And there she was, in her Murder Room. Brenda was back. And Sharon wished, prayed, that she'd waited just one more day. One more goddamn day so she could get this whole thing with the leak over with without Brenda being here, without having to face the hurt she knew she was about to cause, but now she was here and Sharon could do nothing else but hope that somehow, things would be ok.

When Pope called Brenda to come with him, Sharon watched her walk away. The burden of what she was about to do, was about to cause, weighed heavily on her heart. She was hoping to avoid Brenda until it was over but when she went to the ladies' room, she found the blonde Chief washing her hands. Sharon went to turn around but their gazes locked in the mirror and Brenda softly, quietly, called her name. She had never been able to refuse her, to deny her. She turned around.

"Sharon?"

Sharon closed the door behind her and heaved a sigh. "Brenda," she said. For a moment she didn't move, unsure about where she stood. But then she saw the tears in Brenda's eyes and she crossed the small distance that separated them and enveloped Brenda in her arms.

"Oh Sharon," Brenda breathed into the brunette's ear. "I've missed you. I... I..."

"It's ok," Sharon soothed. She ran her fingers through Brenda's hair. It was soft and smelt of lilies. "It's ok." She held Brenda a little tighter. "I've got you, honey. I've got you."

She felt Brenda shaking. She was shivering. Sharon didn't know if it was because she was cold or because she was crying or simply because she was seeking refuge in Sharon's arms. Sharon drew meaningless circles on the small of Brenda's back. The blonde's lithe body was pressed against her, the way it had been so many times before, and she fitted perfectly in her arms. It was as if their bodies were shaped for each other.

"I'm so sorry for your loss," Sharon said when she finally felt Brenda pull away. She could see the shadows of grief in her eyes. She had sent a card, had sent flowers. She hadn't dared to call, not when Brenda was with Fritz. But now she got to say those words. She got to say them and they were real and they were painful. "Your mother was a remarkable woman and I liked her very much."

As she said those words, Sharon knew it wasn't just the loss of Willie Rae she was sorry for. She was sorry for everything else Brenda was about to lose. Her faith and confidence in one of her friends. Life as she had known it until now.

Their relationship had been complicated from the start and Sharon had never expected to fall in love with Brenda Leigh Johnson, much less expected Brenda Leigh Johnson to fall in love with her. It was complicated, of course, with Brenda being married, but it seemed that despite all that, they always found each other. And they kept finding each other, even after having twice said that they couldn't anymore.

"Thank you, Sharon."

Brenda wiped at her eyes. They were red and a little puffy. She tried to straighten up, fiddled with her dress, picked at her fingernails. But she continued to hold Sharon's gaze. "I err... Will tells me you have figured out who the leak is in my division?"

Sharon admitted it. There was nothing else she could do. "I think I do."

"Are you gonna tell me?" Brenda chewed her lip. She and Sharon both knew that really, she'd rather not know.

Sharon's heart sank. "Eventually."

Brenda turned back to sink and grabbed it with both her hands. She felt sick. Her head was pounding. "You know what this is going to do to me, don't you?"

"Brenda, this isn't the end. We both know this is inevitable. Something needs to change. And if I can be the one who does this for you, who shows you, then wouldn't you rather that then say, I don't know, Pope?"

Brenda sighed and shook her head. "How did I get here?"

Sharon walked up to her and slipped her arms around Brenda's waist. She pulled her closer until Brenda's back rested against her chest. "It's going to be ok," she promised and added a soft kiss to Brenda's shoulder with each word. She felt Brenda relax in her arms. "Maybe not right now but eventually."

Brenda managed to turn around, now pinned between the sink and Sharon's body. Through heavy lidded eyes she looked at her lover, inviting her to come closer, and Sharon did. Their lips met hungrily and Brenda's fingers entwined in thick, brown mane as she pulled Sharon deeper into the kiss. Her heart thundered so fast in her chest, she believed it would explode. She had missed Sharon, had missed how she made her feel, had missed how all of this made sense and felt so right.

"Touch me," she pleaded when Sharon briefly pulled away. The hint of despair in Brenda's voice nearly ripped Sharon in two. "Sharon, please."

This wasn't about love, or about what they had shared up until this moment. This was about feeling something, anything, when Brenda wasn't sure she could still feel at all.

So when Sharon slowly pulled up Brenda's dress, inched the fabric over her thighs and pressed her index finger against the damp centre of Brenda's panties, both women gave in. Brenda willingly parted her legs as Sharon pulled the fabric aside. She brought their lips together in a soft, sensitive kiss as she slid her fingers through Brenda's wetness before entering her. The blonde threw her arms around Sharon's neck and her body effortlessly adjusted herself to Sharon.

Sharon moved slowly and softly. She pushed in and out of Brenda with deep, gentle strokes and her thumb pressed against her lover's clit. Brenda's fingers clung to Sharon's shoulders and her buttocks were pressed against the porcelain sink. She clung on for dear life and desperately searched for Sharon's mouth. Their lips met and Brenda's tongue swirled around Sharon's. She shuddered when Sharon's left hand cupped her breast through her dress.

"Sharon," Brenda husked. "Oh..."

"It's ok," Sharon coached. "It's going to be ok."

Brenda felt almost brittle under her hands, like she could break at any second. She moved a little faster and a little deeper, pushed a little harder. Brenda now rolled her hips, pressed her centre against Sharon's hand.

Sharon understood Brenda just needed to forget, for a single moment, what was happening around her. Everything Brenda knew was falling apart and the only constant was Sharon. Their relationship was a secret but that didn't bother her. It was the strongest, most solid relationship Sharon has found herself in for years and she was prepared to accept it whatever way it came.

"Oh," Brenda squeaked softly. "Sharon... Oh, yes..."

There was an urgency to her moves now and Sharon let go off the softness and focused on Brenda's clit. She rubbed and flicked it as her index finger curled up inside her lover and Brenda's breaths became shallower and irregular. Her head fell back and her eyes began to roll and then her walls clamped up around Sharon's finger and with a soft whimper, Brenda came.

She collapsed against Sharon, her arms around her lover's neck, and Sharon carefully pulled her hand back. Only then did she realise Brenda was crying and she held her. And she would hold her for as long as she needed to.

*

Later that day, when she watched the devastation on Brenda's face after she learnt that David Gabriel, perhaps her most trusted confidant in her division, had been the leak, Sharon's heart broke.

And when they were finally alone in Brenda's office, the blinds drawn, Sharon watched the woman sitting behind her desk. She looked so lost, so forlorn.

She was about to say it again. The same thing she had said that morning. But she swallowed the words just before she spoke them.

"I'm sorry for your loss" wasn't going to do any good here.

Sharon wasn't sure anything would.

Chapter Text

The food in the cafeteria could hardly be considered healthy. Perhaps that was why Sharon had suggested they'd meet at the small diner around the corner but Major Crimes caught a case early that morning and Brenda was swamped so she'd asked Sharon to meet her downstairs instead. When Sharon arrived Brenda had already been sitting at a table near the window, looking at something outside.

And that was how Sharon now found herself looking at the menu, her nose wrinkled at the thought of fries and burgers, whilst Brenda sat across from her, having just taken a large gulp from her chocolate milkshake. Sharon had no idea how the blonde kept her figure with the amount of crap she ate. She hadn't ever seen Brenda touch anything that looked like a salad and yet she looked the way she did.

"So," Sharon said as she put down the menu without having made a choice. She would just order a glass of water and maybe something small to go with it. She could always go to the deli place across the street. "How's the case going?"

These working lunches had originally been Sharon's idea. Brenda had seemed reluctant at first, even showed up late for the first one, but after a couple of somewhat awkward get-togethers, they had found common ground and Sharon actually looked forward to spending time with Brenda and, she suspected, Brenda did too since she asked Sharon out to lunch as often as Sharon asked Brenda.

"One dead teacher who cheated on his wife and failed half his class during midterms." Brenda shrugged. "Can't imagine where to start lookin' for suspects."

Sharon smirked. Brenda's face spoke more than a thousand words ever could. "How many have you got?"

"Too many." Brenda shook her head. "Most of them teenagers."

Sharon pressed her fingertips together and studied the Chief from behind her glasses. "Lots of angry parents."

"That too. And they all seem to think their kids are perfectly behaved little angels and none of them want to accept that some of them just aren't." Brenda rolled her eyes.

Sharon smirked. This was where she and Brenda differed. Well, one of many things where they differed. "Parenting weakness, I'm afraid. All parents think their children are perfect."

"Mine didn't."

Brenda pushed her straw around in her glass and didn't make eye contact immediately. Something flashed over her face, something that looked like hurt, before it disappeared behind a mask.

Sharon felt an instant sadness and opened her mouth to ask, knowing she had just caught a glimpse of a different Brenda. She didn't know much about Brenda's family and past. She knew her work history rather intimately, yes, but she didn't know Brenda Leigh Johnson the woman. She knew she had three brothers but that was it. What was she like as a teenager? What was she like at home? Probably not that different from here. Insufferable, self-centred and egotistical but also caring and devoted.

Before Sharon had a chance to ask, the waitress appeared and put a plate down in front of Brenda. The cheeseburger was big and greasy and the fries were piled up high. Sharon watched as Brenda picked up a fry and put it in her mouth after smothering it in ketchup.

"Are you really going to eat that?" she inquired. She wasn't sure if she was disgusted or intrigued but her stomach growled nonetheless. The plate looked like a heart attack waiting to happen.

Brenda looked up and Sharon suddenly felt herself falling. Never before had she noticed just how intense Brenda's eyes were and she felt warm inside when the blonde smiled. There was a twinkle in Brenda's eyes, like she was able to read Sharon's mind. She pushed the plate towards her and leant in a little, smiling.

"You can have half."

Oh, what the hell...

Without hesitation, Sharon accepted.

Chapter Text

It had only been a matter of time. Fritz's death wasn't entirely unexpected. A heart condition like his deserved respect and required calm and peace and Fritz had not given it any of those things. Not because he didn't want to but because he gave himself to his job instead. Because he was a good man, a better man than most, and because of that, because his heart was not also damaged but also kind, he died.

The heart attack had struck him in the middle of the Major Crimes Murder Room earlier that afternoon. Major Crimes had been working with SOB after the kidnapping of two young children and a high speed chase across Los Angeles. The room had been full and Fritz had been standing by the whiteboard next to Sharon as she spoke, delivering a briefing, and suddenly, he'd grabbed her shoulder. When she turned, his face was ashen, his eyes rolling back into his head. He desperately gasped for air; the gurgling sound that came from his mouth would haunt Sharon for the rest of her life.

The atmosphere in the hospital waiting room was chilling. People seemed lost. Pain was etched across faces, eyes had lost their shine. No one spoke. They had been ushered into a side room, away from the other people waiting because no one wanted to see grief like this when they were still waiting to hear about their loved ones. And now they all sat together... Together but alone.

Sharon looked around. Everyone was here. Provenza and Tao, Sanchez and Buzz, Sykes and Flynn. Taylor. Even Rusty was here. Empty plastic coffee cups stood on the table, a few napkins and one empty packet of chewing gum lay beside them. A half-eaten sandwich had been discarded too. The room smelt of disinfectant and rubber gloves. That typical, horrible, hospital smell.

No one seemed to know what to do next. There was nothing they could do here anymore but leaving seemed wrong.

The door opened and Sharon saw her before anyone else did.

Brenda was dabbing a tissue at her eyes. Streaks of mascara had stained her cheeks. Her hair was messy and her clothes haphazardly thrown together. Worn out jeans, a grey sleeveless top, and a black zip up hoodie. She looked fragile, Sharon thought.

Everyone looked at her now. There was silence. Only silence. No one knew what to say. What words were the right ones to say to the woman who had been married to the man who just died but was now no longer his wife? What was she now? A widow? An ex-widow?

Sharon stood up, wiped her hands along her black pencil skirt and cleared her throat. "Brenda."

"Sharon."

They hadn't seen each other in a while. Hadn't spoken. Not since... Not since Brenda said she was considering going to Washington.

"I'm so sorry," Sharon said softly and put a hand on Brenda's arm. Soft, green eyes searched the younger woman's face. Brenda was avoiding eye contact. "Is there anything I can do?"

Brenda looked lost.

"I errr... I need a lift home."

Sharon nodded. "Ok. I'll drive you home." She looked over her shoulder at Provenza. "Lieutenant, can you take Rusty home?" When he nodded she looked back at Brenda. Gently she placed her hand on the small of the blonde's back and carefully pushed her out of the door.

"Did you know?" Brenda asked when the door had closed. She turned to look at Sharon. "The doctor said that he had a heart attack before. That he had treatment. He never told me." Brown eyes bore into green and Sharon realised that Brenda had spoken to Fritz's doctor. "Did you know?"

Sharon shook her head. "I didn't."

She swallowed. Brenda looked tired. Provenza had told her that when he called her and told her Fritz was in hospital, she'd gotten on the first flight out of Washington. The flight had landed at LAX an hour ago.

"Brenda, I'm so sorry."

"I... I don't know why I feel so... It's not like we're married anymore. Me moving to Washington... It was because our marriage was over and I didn't want to stay here anymore."

Sharon didn't know this. She'd suspected as much but Fritz had never said anything. Neither had Brenda. Their friendship had become strained in the weeks leading up to Brenda's departure and by the time she left, Sharon wasn't sure if they were even friends at all.

"You were married for a long time," Sharon softly said. She kept her hand on Brenda's back and felt the younger woman lean in to her. She tried to comfort her even though she didn't know where to start or what to do. "And for a long time, you loved him. Your pain is understandable, Brenda."

They walked side by side down the hospital corridors, ignoring the people and noises around them, and eventually to the exit. Sharon's car was parked in the red zone, which was where she'd left it after following the ambulance to the hospital. Brenda hesitated at the door and just stared. It was dark outside.

Sharon shrugged herself out of her blazer and carefully placed it around Brenda's shoulders when she saw the blonde's shoulders shake. She felt the other woman stiffen under her touch. "Here," she said softly, and Brenda looked up. The haunted look in Brenda's eyes made Sharon's heart ache.

"Take my jacket. It's cold outside."

"Thank you," Brenda whispered. "Thank you, Sharon."

"You said you wanted me to drive you home," Sharon reminded her.

"I don't know what I was thinking. I don't even have a home here anymore." Brenda nervously picked at her fingernails. "I'll get a hotel. Just drive me to the Hilton."

"I can do you one better," Sharon said as she opened the door and held it for Brenda. "You're coming home with me."

They stepped outside together and Sharon opened the passenger door. She helped Brenda into the seat and just as she went to step away, Brenda took her hand and Sharon turned back.

"I don't know what to do," she confessed.

"Neither do I," Sharon admitted and looked at Brenda's hand covering hers. "But we'll figure it out. Together."

Chapter Text

She cursed and swore under her breath and slammed her fist against the wheel. She hadn't moved more than ten yards in the last fifteen minutes and her patience was running dangerously low. Around her, other agitated drivers blew their horns and so far she'd witnessed two angry men giving each other the finger and a woman shouting 'asshole' through an open window at a driver who tried to cut in front of her.

Brenda glanced at the clock on her dashboard. 1.53 pm. She had exactly seven minutes to get to where she needed to be, which happened to be the other side of Los Angeles. Fifteen miles away.

With a frustrated groan she picked up her cell phone from the passenger seat and began typing a message. She knew she ought to ring but she wasn't ready to hear the disappointment so she hid behind a text message. 'On my way. Traffic's a bitch. Am gonna be late.' She hit send and chewed her lip.

Brenda leaned back in her seat and looked around. She suspected the traffic jam was being caused by an accident or a broken down vehicle. She just hoped that whoever was dealing with it would open the road sometime soon. She fiddled with the knobs and buttons on the radio until she found a station that wasn't trying to fry her brain with these godawful pop tunes and breathed a sigh of relief when she heard John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

In the end, she was half an hour late. She managed to park her car in front of the building and climbed the two steps leading to the large glass front doors. She pushed them open and found herself standing in a softly lit corridor. The waiting room, complete with soft leather seats, was empty. There were posters on the wall and leaflets and magazines on the table.

There, leaning against the wall, stood Sharon. She looked up when she heard Brenda approach and Brenda watched the anger melt away behind her lover's eyes. Sharon was never good at staying angry at her, Brenda knew. Not that she made a point of getting Sharon angry, she rather tried to do the opposite, but in the cases where she did slip up, Sharon always forgave her.

"Did we lose our appointment?" Brenda nervously asked. Sharon shook her head.

"The people who had an appointment after us were already waiting so I asked them if they wanted to go first. The doctor said he'd wait for you."

Brenda let her head fall back. "I'm sorry I'm late," she sighed and leant in, softly kissing Sharon on her cheek. "I really left on time."

"I know," Sharon smiled. "Don't worry about it."

"We've been waitin' for this for months. I can't believe I almost ruined it. I could kick myself right now." Brenda stamped her foot.

"Brenda, it's OK," Sharon reassured her and put a hand on the blonde's arm. The soft touch was enough to calm the agitated blonde down. "We're here now."

Down the hall a door opened and a woman poked her head around. In her hand she held a clipboard and she briefly scanned the paperwork before calling out, "Sharon and Brenda?"

Sharon's hand slipped into Brenda's and she squeezed it. "Ready?"

Brenda nodded. "Ready."

Together they walked down the hall until they met the woman in the doorway. They stepped inside and the door slowly fell closed behind them.

On the silver plaque beside it, black bold capital letters spelt out LOS ANGELES CRYOGENICS AND FERTILITY SERVICES

Chapter Text

"Why do I even need to be here? I don't work for the LAPD anymore!"

"But I do. And because you're my wife and sometimes it is nice to do something for your husband." Fritz smiled and extended his arm. "Ready?"

Brenda reluctantly put her arm through Fritz's and they walked up the four steps leading to the front door of the Police Commissioner's home. Well, 'home' was an understatement. The place was more like a mansion. The front garden was decorated with hundreds of small lights. Candles had been lit in the grand entrance hallway. The marble floors were impressive and Brenda looked around. She recognized some of the faces of the people she saw.

She really didn't want to be here. No one at the DA's office had been invited but a lot of people connected to the LAPD were. Fritz, now in charge of SOB, had seemed almost proud when he showed her the invitation. Brenda had just mumbled something about "how nice," before carrying on doing the dishes. She had received numerous of these invites herself but she'd always refused to go. Politics weren't her thing and it didn't matter how expensive the champagne was and how much effort she put into her choice of dress, it was all still about politics.

She tagged along behind Fritz for a while, graciously accepted a glass when a young waiter carrying a silver tray offered her one and smiled whenever Fritz introduced her to someone. Some people recognized her, she could see it in their eyes, but no one dared to mention her somewhat less than gracious departure from the LAPD.

Minutes changed into hours and Brenda became increasingly bored. Fritz was talking to some people she didn't know, and didn't feel like knowing, and after leaving her empty champagne glass on a large plant pot, she decided that, since there was nothing else to do anyway, she might as well explore.

She wandered out back into the hall and found it mostly abandoned. She crossed the hall into another room and found herself standing in what she guessed was a library. The room was lit by candles, just like the hall had been. Bookcases adorned the walls and two expensive looking armchairs stood in the bay shaped window. After letting her eyes wander around, Brenda stepped back into the hall. This time she followed it further down and found the large doors that led to the outside patio. She stepped outside and eagerly sucked in the cool, fresh evening air. She could still faintly hear the music and the voices but here, away from the people who shot her pitying looks when they thought she wasn't watching, Brenda felt like she could breathe.

"Chief?"

The familiar voice was soft, like silk, and it sent a shiver down Brenda's spine. She turned slightly and found Sharon Raydor standing behind her, wearing a sleeveless burgundy coloured dress that reached down to her knees and was finished off with matching shoes. She didn't wear her glasses, Brenda noticed, and those intense green eyes were fixed on her in curiosity.

"Sharon."

Brenda licked her lips. She hadn't seen Sharon since she left Major Crimes. She'd promised to stay in touch but she just couldn't face it. Even though she'd come to consider everyone in her division her friend, Sharon included, the thought that they still had what she had lost, hurt. Sharon had taken her place, on Brenda's recommendation, but Brenda hadn't been able to get past the sting of pain she still felt. It had been three years and the hurt was still real.

"What are you doing here?" Sharon carefully inquired. She seemed genuinely surprised.

"Fritz wanted me to come," Brenda admitted.

Sharon smiled at that answer. "I thought you looked a bit bored."

Brenda cocked her head. Sharon had been watching her? How long had she been here? Had she come out here looking for her?

"Why are you here?" she wanted to know, before remembering that she had turned down plenty of these invitations herself. It was like Sharon to accept them.

Sharon's finger traced the rim of her champagne flute. "Chief Taylor thought it was a good idea." She didn't sound impressed. "I could think of better things to do on a Saturday night."

"Like what?" Brenda had blurted it out before she even had a chance to reconsider. She saw Sharon blink and tried not to look too embarrassed. Truth was, she had a hard time imagining Sharon Raydor doing anything outside of work, even though she rationally knew the woman had a life. She'd taken in Rusty after all.

Oh, for heaven's sake... Rusty!

"How's Rusty?" She quickly added. She hoped it didn't sound too much like an afterthought.

"He's very well, thank you." Sharon's voice was soft. A light filled her eyes now that she spoke of him. "You should call him. I know for a fact he would love to see you, Chief."

"It's Brenda now. I ain't anybody's Chief anymore."

Green eyes unexpectedly found brown. "And we all know that you still should be."

They stared at each other for the longest of moments without speaking,

Inside, the music changed. It became more classical, like someone had arranged to have a violin quartet to set up in the house. Since the party was so over the top anyway, Brenda wouldn't be surprised to find it was actually true.

Brenda looked away from Sharon and out over the garden. It was elaborate; neatly cut lawns, flowerbeds, patio with expensive garden furniture, marble statues. It appeared that the Commissioner had not just poured a lot of money into his house but the gardens as well.

"Are you... Are you here alone?" She didn't look at Sharon but felt the brunette appear at her side. Sharon too looked out over the gardens. Their arms briefly touched and Brenda shivered.

Sharon looked at Brenda from the corner of her eye. The hint of a sympathetic smile ghosted over her lips. "I wouldn't knowingly inflict this kind of thing on anyone."

"I'm sorry I didn't call."

There. She said it.

"I was afraid. I still am."

God, she was on a roll now. How much champagne had she had?!

Brenda felt Sharon's hand on her back. "I know."

The touch was familiar and yet strange. Startling yet comforting. Painful, yet so very much wanted. Brenda took a deep breath. "And you..."

She didn't finish that sentence. She had never dared to finish. She knew she didn't have to say it. She knew Sharon knew. It was there, it had been there from the moment they met. The attraction. That's how it hard started. And then it became... Something else. Something where they spoke on the phone every night, until the early hours. Nights where Brenda would fall asleep on the couch with her phone to her ear, listening to Sharon, instead of climbing into bed with her husband. There were the moments where they'd look at each other and wonder, if one of them took the step, where it would lead. There was a chance. There were plenty of chances. But she was afraid, and Sharon had been too. And then...And then it had fallen apart.

Brenda's eyes snapped up when she felt Sharon's fingers dance over the back of her hand. The touch was soft and warm and set her skin on fire. She turned her head and found the older woman looking at her. She knew that look. Sharon's eyes said more than words ever could.

"I... I should go back inside," she stammered but she didn't move.

Sharon took her hand now and slowly turned Brenda towards her.

"Brenda?"

"Yes?" she whispered breathlessly.

Inside the music swelled. The violins became more powerful, more urgent, and yet more delicate.

"I know I shouldn't..."

"Sharon..."

The words died on the tip of Brenda's tongue. Sharon's eyes had never been so green.

"Can I have this dance?"

Brenda wordlessly accepted. She let Sharon take her hand and let her place it on her hip. Brenda moved her other hand and it came to a rest on the small of Sharon's back. Their gazes locked as Sharon brushed a curl behind Brenda's ear before sliding an arm around waist and the other gently around the back of her neck. Their bodies somehow fitted effortlessly together and Brenda sighed contently against Sharon's neck.

Sharon moved them to the music, swaying softly from left to right and turning them on the spot. Her head rested on Brenda's shoulder and she breathed in the faint lily scent of the blonde's hair, felt the warmth of her skin against her fingers. Her eyes fluttered shut and she sighed softly. It was as if time had momentarily frozen.

"I've missed you," Brenda confessed.

Tears of bitterness burnt behind her eyes. Sharon felt so good. To finally hold her... She wasn't sure she ever wanted to let go. Was there a way she could come back from this? Would she be able to just walk away?

Sharon pressed her lips softly against Brenda's neck as she fingered a soft curl and whispered, "I've missed you too, Brenda Leigh."

Brenda's body was on fire. She was burning. With all her might she tried to hold on to Sharon.

The music slowly died out and when only silence remained, Sharon still couldn't bring herself to let go. They still moved, dancing to music no one else could hear, lost in each other and the world they, for a few moments at least, had created inside their heads. Neither dared to move or open their eyes because once they did, it would all be gone. They'd go back to being alone.

The sound of approaching footsteps eventually forced them apart. Brenda saw the tears in Sharon's eyes and she ached when she felt the brunette's hands slip away from her. She wanted to say something, anything, but before she could speak, a familiar voice broke whatever there was left of their little bubble.

"There you are," Fritz said. "I've been looking all over for… Oh, Captain Raydor." He paused in his step and took in the sight of Sharon in her dress. "I didn't know you were going to be here tonight."

"Chief Howard," Sharon politely smiled. "How nice to see you again."

"Likewise." Fritz looked back at Brenda. "Bren, the Commissioner wants to talk to you." He sounded elated.

Brenda chewed her lip and slowly tore her eyes away from Sharon. "OK," she said. She took a couple of steps towards her husband and then turned around. Regret flickered behind her eyes. Sharon could see the tears.

"Bye, Sharon."

Sharon sadly smiled as she watched Brenda walk away. Again.

"Goodbye, Brenda."

Chapter Text

Brenda heard the key in the front door, the sound of keys being dropped and shoes being kicked off. She put down the wooden spoon, rose to the tips of her toes and took a large wineglass from the shelf in the cupboard. She'd just finished pouring it when she felt soft hands on her hips and warm lips on her neck.

"Hi," Sharon whispered.

Brenda turned and offered Sharon the glass. "Hey," she smiled. "I thought you could use this."

"Thank you," Sharon sighed and accepted the drink.

"Long day?" Brenda inquired.

Sharon sighed. "The longest."

Sharon's phone had rung at three in the morning. All too familiar with how Major Crimes operated, Brenda didn't need to ask. By half past three, Sharon had showered, gotten dressed and had only half finished the cup of coffee Brenda had made for her in the kitchen. She'd kissed her goodbye and left. It was now nine o'clock at night and she'd only just got home. Brenda, better than anyone, knew what that was like.

Sharon sniffed the air, her eyes still closed. She was tired. Her body ached and she longed for a shower that would wash away the smell of the morgue.

"What's that smell?" she wanted to know.

Brenda turned back to the stove and lifted the lid off one of the pans. "I made your favourite," she answered, picking up the wooden spoon again and stirring the sauce that was cooking in the pan.

Sharon's eyes flew open. "Roast stew?" She looked at Brenda in surprise. Brenda wasn't exactly known for her cooking skills and the blond seemed rather pleased with herself. "You made roast lamb?"

When Brenda nodded, Sharon snaked her arms around her waist and pulled her closer. She softly captured her lips and kissed her sweetly. "If I hadn't already, I would marry you right now," she whispered as she let her fingers run through her wife's curls.

Brenda hummed contently against Sharon's lips. She'd never considered herself to be housewife material. Hell, after two failed marriage she wasn't even sure she considered herself to be wife material but here she was, in the kitchen of the home she shared with Sharon. The one they bought together after moving out of the condo. Their home.

She and Fritz had never bought a house. He'd wanted to. He pushed her to the point where she just didn't want to talk about it anymore. That was Fritz. He'd always hoped that she would one day fit into the picture he had painted in her head of the perfect family. He wanted kids and a house with a white picket fence and a golden retriever and take family pictures every year to send as Christmas cards.

She'd never wanted that. Or maybe, as she looked back, she had simply never wanted it with Fritz.

When she first started dating Sharon, less than a year after she left the LAPD, people had been shocked. Most of them seemed to wonder how two people who were so completely different could possibly work. Sharon was risk adverse where Brenda was impulsive, quiet where Brenda was loud and selfless where Brenda was selfish. But somehow, it fit. It was like two pieces of a puzzle that had never fitted anywhere else suddenly found a place.

Dating Sharon Raydor had come with its own set of complications. Sharon had two kids, Ricky and Emily, and she had become Rusty's guardian. None of the kids were exactly bothered about their mother dating another woman but it did mean that Brenda suddenly had to navigate through the unfamiliar terrain of having a family. That hadn't become painfully obvious to her until she, and not Sharon, had received a phone call from Rusty's principal. And she, not Sharon, had attended a meeting with teachers to discuss Rusty's progress and further education. And, not long after that, Emily had complained to Brenda about her father, whom Brenda had the displeasure of meeting a couple of times, and Brenda intervened before Sharon had to clean up another one of Jack's messes. And eventually she had sought permission of Emily, Ricky and Rusty when she wanted to propose to Sharon. After the wedding, she and Sharon had adopted Rusty together but long before that, Rusty had started calling her "my Mom Brenda" to his friends.

The difference was that Sharon had never expected that Brenda would change. She didn't try to change her, accepted her completely with all her flaws, and Brenda felt that finally, for the first time, someone saw her just for who she was and not for what they wished she would be. And she stopped rebelling. Gradually, and because she wanted to. She started enjoying coming home early and spending time just being at home. She grew to enjoy evenings on the couch with a book or a movie or just music, her feet in Sharon's lap. Sharon finally helped her to see what it was like to not just have a family but be one, too.

"Do you want to shower first?" Brenda asked when she felt Sharon lean against her.

Sharon shook her head. "I'm hungry."

"Ok," Brenda soothed. "Go sit down and I'll bring you a plate."

Sharon padded out of the kitchen and a minute or so later she heard the TV being switched on. Brenda smiled as she took a plate and some cutlery and made up Sharon's plate. She carried it into the living room but stopped in the doorway when she saw Sharon had fallen asleep. Exhaustion had caught up with her.

Brenda put down the plate, picked up the blanket from the back of the couch and draped it over her wife's sleeping form. She softly kissed Sharon's forehead and then sat down beside her, curled up into her side and rested her head against Sharon's chest. Her eyes were heavy and the steady beat of Sharon's heart lulled her to sleep.

Dinner would still taste fine when reheated in the microwave. Tomorrow.

Chapter Text

She'd been awake for most of the night tossing and turning. Sleep eluded her and ten minutes ago she'd gotten up. It's was only four in the morning but she couldn't stand it any longer. The bedsheets had felt like a straitjacket.

She'd padded around the kitchen first, took a glass from the cupboard and got herself some water. She'd finished it off in one large gulp before making her way to the bathroom, switching on the light and staring at herself in the mirror. Her hands rested on the sink and her heart pounded in her chest.

"Bren?" a soft voice called from the other side of the door. "Brenda, can I come in?"

The door opened and revealed Sharon. She was wearing an oversized grey LAPD t-shirt and black shorts, her glasses balancing on the tip of her nose. Concern was etched across her face as she studied the blonde woman.

"Brenda, are you ok?"

"I can't stand it anymore," she confessed and looked up at the brunette. Sharon looked tired. "Did I wake you?"

Sharon stepped into the bathroom. When she did her eye fell on the box in front of Brenda. It was open but she hadn't taken the item that was inside out yet. She smiled. It seemed that she and Brenda had been kept awake by the same thing. "It's okay. I couldn't sleep anyway." Green eyes found brown. "Do you want to do it now?"

Brenda's teeth worried her bottom lip. "What if it's negative?"

"Then we'll cry and accept it and figure out what to do next," Sharon answered. Her voice was soft and calm but Brenda knew that was not how she felt inside. She knew because she herself didn't feel like it.

The road had been long and now it was coming to an end. Weeks of injections full of hormones, of feeling like something else possessed her body had led up to the moment where the fertility clinic collected ten little eggs from Brenda's body. All had been fertilised with donor sperm they had selected from a catalogue and two growing embryos had been placed back inside Brenda five days later. The remainder of the embryos been frozen. For the future. In whatever shape or form.

The IVF journey had been gruelling and Brenda had never believed she would actually be on that roller coaster until Sharon had given her the first hormone injection. The hormones had left her feeling emotional and incredibly bloated and there were days where she wished it would just all be over but she kept trying to tell herself it would all be worth it in the end.

Brenda picked up the box containing the pregnancy test, handed the information leaflet to Sharon and waited. Her hands were clammy. She had only ever taken one pregnancy test before in her life. She'd been married to Fritz and she'd prayed to whatever God that it was negative. The contrast to today couldn't be any bigger. She wanted nothing more than for it to be positive.

"Hold the stick in urine for fifteen seconds, replace the cap and wait for two minutes. Read the results immediately," Sharon said and looked up. Green eyes were filled with hope.

Two kids and a divorce later, she was about to do this whole thing again but with someone who wanted to be part of it, who had chosen to do this with her. She was older now, older than she perhaps would have liked when it came to motherhood but sometimes life has other plans, and things were going to be different this time around.

Brenda had been an absolute trooper when it came to the IVF process. She had taken every injection in her stride, had not complained once and Sharon couldn't be more proud of her. She knew the hormones had affected her; she'd been more tearful and tired and some days the button on her pants wouldn't go up (something Sharon would then remind her would happen soon anyway, if they were successful). Brenda had been brave and Sharon loved her more than she ever thought possible.

She turned around to allow Brenda the privacy of peeing on the pregnancy test. She'd done this herself plenty of times, finding it positive only twice, and it wasn't exactly a dignified thing to do. They were meant to go for a blood test later today to confirm whether or not Brenda was pregnant but the clinic had told them to test at home too. The blood test would then only confirm what they already knew.

Brenda replaced the cap on the test, put it down on the sink and covered it up with the instruction manual. She couldn't bear looking at it. She washed her hands and turned so Sharon who was now perched on the side of the bath. The older woman opened her arms and Brenda stepped into them and nuzzled her head against Sharon's shoulder.

"Whatever happens, it's going to be ok," Sharon promised. "I love you, Brenda Leigh."

"I love you too," Brenda whispered back.

She took Sharon's hand and placed it over her belly. It was what they had done every night since the two embryos had been placed back inside Brenda. They would softly talk about the future, about what it would be like. They'd considered the risk of placing two embryos back and the possibility of twins. They had decided that they'd face whatever came on their path the same way they had everything else so far; with love and laughter.

"I think the two minutes have past," Sharon said after a little while.

Brenda untangled herself from the brunette and swallowed hard. "I can't do it," she softly said. Everything they had done in the last few weeks, or even months, came down to this moment.

"You look," she told Sharon.

Sharon stood up, walked to the sink and pulled the piece of paper off the pregnancy test. She picked it up and slowly looked down. Brenda waited with baited breath. One second. Two seconds. Three...

Then Sharon looked up. Tears glistened in her eyes. Silently she handed the pregnancy test to Brenda and she took it. She looked. She saw it.

Two pink lines.

Pregnant.

Chapter Text

It was infuriating as well as soul destroying to stand by and watch Chief Johnson place her trust in the wrong person. Sharon Raydor struggled to understand just how or why the Chief continued to think so highly of Will Pope even now that Sharon had, indirectly, told her that Pope insisted on continuing the audit of Major Crimes even now that Delk was gone. The Chief somehow seemed to believe that all these problems would just go away now that her old friend was at the top. Unlike Sharon, she didn't seem to see, or perhaps chose not to see, that Will Pope wasn't her friend anymore.

Pope had made it very clear that he didn't want Sharon telling Chief Johnson that the order to continue the audit had come from him. He also knew that the Chief would never believe Sharon even if she did tell her so it left him high and dry and it left Sharon... Well, stuck.

It was exactly the reason why Sharon now found herself sitting in her car, parked at the bottom of Chief Johnson's driveway. They weren't exactly friends, a few working lunches and one dinner didn't exactly constitute friendship, but Sharon thought highly of the Chief and she couldn't stand the injustice of how she was being treated.

The blonde's reaction upon first finding out about the lawsuit had been typical. She insisted she had done nothing wrong, a statement that Sharon believed to be questionable to say the least, and then she'd turned on Sharon once it became clear she had been drafted in to audit her entire division. Sharon knew why Delk had chosen her. Because no one else was prepared to face off against Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and because Sharon was always professional. But somehow it had hurt a lot more than she expected when Brenda sneered, "So much for us bein' friends."

Sharon heaved a sigh and climbed out of the car. She'd seen Agent Howard leave ten minutes earlier and she knew the Chief was home alone. Before she could even allow herself a moment to reconsider, she had already knocked on the door and waited.

A mere few moments later the door swung open and revealed Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, dressed in grey sweatpants and an oversized LAPD t-shirt.

Brenda blinked a couple of times, surprised to see the woman standing on her doorstep. "Capt'n Raydor," she said and was unable to hide her shock. "What can I do for you?"

Sharon noticed Brenda folded her arms in front of her chest. The pose was defensive. The Chief was clearly still angry.

"I'm sorry for interrupting your evening, Chief, but I really need to talk to you."

"And this can't wait till morning?" Brenda's studied Sharon's face with hard eyes.

Sharon shook her head. "I'm afraid it can't."

This seemed to trigger Brenda's curiosity and she stepped aside and invited Sharon into her home. She closed the door behind the Captain and followed her into the kitchen.

"Can I get you anythin'? Coffee, water? Wine?" Brenda's Southern manners kicked in. Never leave a visitor empty handed, her Mama always said.

"I'm fine, thank you," Sharon replied. "Is Agent Howard around?" She knew he wasn't but she didn't want Brenda to think she'd just assumed.

"He went out. To a..." Brenda didn't finish that sentence. Since the background check after Brenda applied for the position of Chief of Police, Fritz's AA meetings were no longer a secret to Sharon.

Brenda straightened her spine. "So, what brings you here, Capt'n?"

"Sharon," the brunette said and Brenda arched an eyebrow. "I'm not here in any official capacity so I would appreciate it if we could leave our ranks at the door." She paused. Green eyes found brown. "Brenda."

"OK." Brenda seemed uncertain. "So, what's this about?"

"About my audit of Major Crimes."

Brenda rolled her eyes. "We already talked about this. I'm sure Chief Pope is goin' to..."

"The only thing Chief Pope is going to do is make sure you are not a liability to him now that he finally got what he always wanted!" Sharon interrupted and Brenda looked up in surprise. "He is not your friend anymore, Brenda."

"And you are?" the blonde bit back.

Sharon sighed and admitted, "I want to be."

She and Brenda were separated by the kitchen table and Sharon watched as some of the anger seemed to fade from the other woman's face.

"Whatever you think Chief Pope is going to do, he isn't. He is in this for himself now. He got what he wanted and he's not going to let that get damaged or taken away. And YOU are the one thing that can damage his reputation now. This lawsuit is a stain on his future and if he can, he will erase it." Sharon's intense green eyes fixed on Brenda. "In whatever way he can."

"So you're sayin' I can't trust him? Will and I have been friends for years!"

"And once upon a time you were more than that," Sharon reminded her and Brenda's face fell a little at that. "And he's still not protecting you. Not anymore."

"Do you want me to walk into his office tomorrow and tell him he's an asshole?" Brenda retorted. She was exasperated. "What do you want me to do?"

"I want you to listen to me. I need you to listen to me and hear what I say!"

"What are you sayin'?"

It didn't sound sincere but it was at least the right thing to ask.

"Protect yourself. Stand up for yourself. Get an attorney and don't trust Pope!" Sharon insisted. "Damnit, Brenda, he isn't just trying to throw you under the bus, he's driving it himself!" She placed her hands flat on the table and leaned on it. "Watch your step because Pope is certainly watching them. One slip up, one mistake, and he'll throw you out like you are yesterday's trash."

Brenda's lip quivered but she maintained her composure. "Why are you here?" she pressed. Sharon hadn't come here just out of the goodness of her heart. "Why did you come?"

"Because I had to," Sharon sighed. She couldn't not have come. "I had to because no one else is looking out for you and..." She swallowed. "You deserve to know you have a friend."

They stared at each other for the longest of moments, nothing but silence and honesty between them, and Brenda saw a different side to the woman she had loathed for so long. Here stood Sharon Raydor, the FID Ice Queen, warning her to be careful. No one would ever have thought that, of all people, it would be Raydor who had her back.

"Thank you," Brenda said. She meant it. Relief settled in her chest. "Thank you, Sharon."

"Just be careful, ok?" Sharon smiled and glanced at her watch. "I should go. It's late and I have wasted enough of your evening." She wanted to be gone before Agent Howard returned.

She turned and headed for the door. Brenda followed her and held it open for her as Sharon stepped outside. The brunette paused and looked at Brenda. She leaned against the doorframe, hand against the wood. Lit up by the light from the kitchen she looked younger somehow. Her face was bare of make-up and her curls fell down her shoulders in a tangled mess. It was like Sharon finally caught a glimpse of another side of Brenda Leigh Johnson.

"Goodnight, Brenda," she said.

She covered Brenda's hand with her own and was surprised to find it warm and soft.

Brenda's breath hitched when Sharon's fingers ghosted over the back of her hand before withdrawing. She pulled her hand back, towards her chest, and watched as the older woman stepped down her porch and walked back to her car.

When she closed the door she leaned against it with her back. "Goodnight, Sharon."

Chapter Text

Captain Sharon Raydor pulled up outside the bar and eyed the place up before getting out of her car. It wasn't exactly a classy place but it certainly wasn't as bad as she had expected. She had seen worse. She locked her car, walked across the sidewalk and then stepped in to the bar. It smelt of beer and wine and like someone needed to open a window. She recognised a verse from "Hotel California" playing on the jukebox in the corner as she walked in and she looked around. The place was dimly lit and mostly empty, but what else was to be expected at one o'clock in the morning?

She made eye contact with the guy behind the bar and shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans.

"You here for the drunk lady?" the bartender, or Sharon assumed that's who he was, asked and she nodded. He then pointed at a table in the corner of the room and Sharon's heart sank,

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, head of Major Crimes, lay with her head on the table, blonde curls sprawled out over her arm. Two empty bottles of wine and what looked like a whiskey glass stood just within reach.

Sharon turned back to the bartender. "Why did you call me?" She wanted to know.

"I just went through her recent call history. Your name was at the top. Figured you were her wife or something."

"Not exactly," Sharon sighed but she did remember the call Brenda had made. It had been about six hours earlier and it had just been to inform her that the case was solved. Brenda had sounded cheerful then, a sharp contrast to the pathetic pile of crap she appeared to be now.

Sharon walked up to the table and softly shook Brenda's shoulder. "Chief?" she asked but no response came. She raised her voice a little, the tone she usually reserved for uncooperative suspects. "Chief Johnson?"

Brenda looked up, bleary eyed and clearly intoxicated. She studied Sharon for a moment or two and then smiled the goofiest of smiles. "Capt'n Raydor."

"Just Sharon will do for now," Sharon replied and pulled at Brenda's arm. "Right, time to go. Get up, Chief."

"But I don't wanna leave!" Brenda whined.

Sharon wondered what the hell happened for the blonde to have ended up in this state. When she'd seen her hours earlier, Brenda had seemed rather smug and satisfied that she had closed her case within twelve hours.

"But I do. And you're coming with me whether you like it or not." She set her jaw. "Don't make me slam the cuffs on you."

"Ok, ok, I'm up! I'm up!"

Brenda staggered to her feet, swaying precariously on her kitten heels, and Sharon snaked an arm around the younger woman's waist to steady her. Brenda giggled and her arm fell around Sharon's shoulders.

Somehow they managed to get out of the bar and Sharon helped Brenda into the passenger seat of her car. She buckled up the seatbelt and circled around the vehicle to get behind the wheel. By the time she started the engine, Brenda's head rested against the window. Sharon turned the air conditioning up to full blast but it didn't provoke a reaction. Brenda Leigh Johnson was well and truly hammered.

"I'm gonna be sick," Brenda announced about twenty minutes into the drive home. It was the first time she'd spoken since getting in the car.

Sharon pulled over just in time and Brenda threw open the door and puked. The sour stench of vomit filled the car even though Brenda had thrown up outside the vehicle and Sharon vowed that one day, Brenda would repay her for this.

She wondered why the bartender had not called Agent Howard. If he'd seen Brenda's call registry then surely he would have noticed the amount of calls to her husband?

When she first got the call and the man informed her that he was calling because he was worried about the safety of one the patrons in his bar, she had assumed it had been about Jack. She had received plenty of these calls before. Until the caller referred to the patron as a she. Sharon had then asked if he knew the woman's name and he said that according to the badge in her bag, her name was Brenda Leigh Johnson. At that point Sharon had asked for the address and told the man that under no circumstance was he allowed to let Brenda leave.

Sharon shot Brenda a sideways glance. The blonde Chief had covered her eyes with her hand and had opened a window, despite the air conditioning being on. She looked a mess, Sharon thought. Her blue floral skirt was wrinkled, her blazer dirty and there was mud on her shoes. It was probably from the crime scene, but it didn't do anything to lift Brenda's already sorry state

Sharon parked her car on the driveway of the duplex Brenda shared with her husband and immediately noticed the absence of another car. Brenda's Crown Vic was still at the bar but it seemed that Agent Howard wasn't home either. The house was dark.

Sharon got out of the car, opened the passenger door and took the large purse Brenda always carried around with her from the blonde's lap. Brenda barely acknowledged Sharon's presence and Sharon sighed before attempting to find house keys. She pulled out two Ding Dongs, three sets of rubber gloves and an evidence bag, lipstick, a pen and several empty sweets wrappers before finding the keys. She then undid Brenda's seatbelt and the blonde opened her eyes this time.

"Where're we?" she asked, slurring her words a little.

"Home," Sharon replied. "Come on, Chief, get out of the car."

"No, no! Take me to your house. I... I don't want to be here!"

Sharon froze momentarily. Had Brenda just said that she didn't want to be here? Her eyes narrowed. What exactly had happened?

"Brenda," Sharon chose to use the woman's first name instead of her rank this time. Concern settled in her chest. "Brenda, what happened? Where's Agent Howard?"

"Gone." Brenda's voice was thick.

"Gone?" Sharon questioned, shooting another glance at the dark house and empty driveway. "Gone where?"

"Don't know."

Sharon decided to leave any further questions until she got Brenda inside. With her arm around the younger woman's waist she walked her to the front door and after three attempts, found the right key. The door opened and Sharon helped Brenda inside, patting the wall as she went along in the hope of finding a light switch. The light came on and Sharon found herself standing in Brenda's kitchen. Suddenly she realised she had never actually been here before and she felt like an intruder. She knew damn well that Brenda would never have called her herself if she'd been given the choice.

"Where's the bedroom?" Sharon softly asked when Brenda just stood in the middle of the kitchen, looking rather forlorn.

"Capt'n, I'm married!" Brenda unexpectedly exclaimed and giggled. The giggle would have been endearing if it hadn't sounded so disturbing in this very moment. "I can't take you to my bedroom."

Sharon blinked. Did Brenda think Sharon had just propositioned her? She felt her face flush, the warmth spread all the way down her neck, and she swallowed.

"You need to go to bed," she said sternly, attempting to hide her initial reaction.

Brenda looked at Sharon for the longest of moments and suddenly, Sharon could see it. The vulnerability, the brokenness. It went hidden inside Brenda's eyes but the alcohol had washed away her composure, the mask she always wore. She might as well have been standing naked in front of Sharon. Brenda looked vulnerable and scared and Sharon was overcome with the desire to take that pain away. To wrap Brenda up in her arms and just wait till morning came. Everything always looked different in the light of day.

Brenda came to her senses a little and turned on her heel. She walked out of the kitchen into what Sharon suspected was the bedroom. Now that she was alone, Sharon looked around. The kitchen was spacious. Not exactly her style but nice enough. The counters were relatively clutter free but there were dirty coffee mugs and plates in the sink and a pile of mail on the table. Most of it seemed to be addressed to Fritz Howard.

Sharon opened the fridge. A carton of milk (which on closer inspection got emptied down the sink), left over Chinese, some yoghurt and cheese, a few veggies that had seen better days. Not exactly nutritious. She closed the fridge and opened one of the kitchen cupboards. Plates and bowls. They matched the ones in the sink. She tried the one next to it and found the glasses.

After pouring a large cold glass of water, Sharon left the kitchen and made her way through the house. The only other light came from a room down the hall and she approached carefully. The door was open and she found Brenda standing by the window, still fully dressed. Her shoulders were slumped and she seemed to be swaying a little, dancing to a tune only she could hear. The bed hadn't been made and there was a pile of what Sharon guessed was dirty laundry on the arm chair.

"Brenda?"

The blonde Chief turned around and saw Sharon standing in the doorway. She smiled. The smile was disarming and the brightest thing Sharon had seen all day.

"You should be in bed."

Sharon walked into the bedroom and handed Brenda the cold glass of water. Their fingertips brushed together. "Here, drink this. You'll feel better."

"What is it?" Brenda suspiciously eyed up the glass. Sharon smirked.

"Water."

Brenda downed the water in one large gulp and put the glass down on the bedside table with a loud thud. With her back turned towards Sharon she shrugged herself out of the blazer. Sharon watched it fall down at Brenda's feet. The blonde kicked off her shoes and then began unzipping her dress. It peeled away from her back, revealing a white bra. At that moment, Sharon quickly turned around, away from Brenda. She felt her cheeks burning and her stomach tightening. There had been times she fantasised about what the other woman looked like underneath her clothes but this wasn't the time or the place to think about that.

She chewed her lip and counted to ten, hoping to settle down the insane thundering of her heart. When she turned back around, she found Brenda had crawled into bed and pulled the sheets up to her face.

"Sharon?" Brenda's voice was soft.

"Yes, Chief?" She tried to create some distance. Back to using Chief instead of Brenda.

"Stay with me?

"Of course," Sharon smiled and began to turn around. "I'll be in the living room. You just call..."

"Here," Brenda quietly said. She pointed at the other side of the bed. "Stay here with me."

"Chief, I don't think that's such a good..."

"Please?"

The fragility of Brenda's voice erased all of Sharon's reservations and she walked around the bed. She sat down and the mattress dipped under her weight. She unlaced her boots, took them off and then unbuttoned her blouse. Wearing her jeans and the simple black tank top she'd thrown on instead of her bra, she lay down on the bed. She felt Brenda shift under the covers and felt uncomfortable. She stiffened when Brenda rolled over. She could feel her eyes on her in the dark. For a moment she felt Brenda's fingers on her forearm, her skin soft and warm.

She had wondered about this moment for so long. About lying beside Brenda, feeling her body so close, but this was not how she had imagined it. Brenda was vulnerable and weak and Sharon had no intention of betraying the trust Brenda had instilled in her by asking her to share her bed. She held her breath, afraid to move, and then Brenda pulled back.

Sharon slowly released her breath. How had she ended up here? In bed with Brenda Leigh Johnson? Why had she even answered the damn phone?! And where the hell was Agent Howard and how had Brenda let herself get into such a state?

Sharon turned to look at Brenda. She lay on her side, still facing her. She could faintly make out the features of her face.

"Brenda?" she asked softly.

"Hmmm?" Brenda sounded half asleep. Her breath tickled the side of Sharon's face.

"What happened?"

"Hmmm?" The response was barely audible.

Sharon propped herself up on her elbow. She felt sorry for the younger woman. Whatever had happened, no one deserved to be alone when they were this vulnerable. "Brenda, where's your husband?"

Brenda didn't move but her eyes had opened. The room was spinning. "Like I said, he's gone."

"Gone where?" Sharon whispered. She dared to reach out and touch Brenda's hair. She could've sworn she felt and heard the other woman sigh.

"He left me."

The three words sounded so broken, they tore through Sharon's heart. Fritz had left Brenda.

She wanted to ask why and when but she didn't get a chance. Brenda's soft, steady breathing told her that she was asleep. Sharon folded her hands behind her head and stared up at the unfamiliar ceiling in the dark. She considered getting up but then, unexpectedly, Brenda draped her arm across her waist and pulled her closer. She stiffened but then relaxed and slowly, very slowly, she wondered if maybe receiving a midnight call from some dive bar wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Chapter Text

I don't think I have ever seen two people who are more in love than those two idiots. You know, the kind of love that makes you feel sick because it's so damn sweet but at the same time you feel so proud and warm and you know that that's the kind of love you want for yourself when you meet that special person? Yeah, that's them. They love each other. My mom and Brenda.

They just don't know it.

My mom dragged me out of bed this morning to go to this stupid barbecue that Chief Taylor has organised. Some yearly get together that's really kinda lame but the food's good and who says no to free food, right? And mom asked Brenda to come this year too, which is guaranteed fun. But the party itself is stupid and my tie itches and I hate the shirt she made me wear and I am seriously bored.

I watch them from my perch, which is just a chair on the patio really. I'm pretty sure I am not the only one who thinks they should just like get a room already. I think Provenza and Buzz have a bet going about how much longer they're going to keep up this charade. Tao was in on it too, for a while, but he backed out when things took too long. By now they must be betting some pretty high stakes because this whole thing has been going for a while.

They're standing closely together. Brenda's dress is blue and mom's is white. They are both holding a glass of wine, I don't think I ever see mom drink red wine unless Brenda's around, and they are talking to Chief Taylor's wife. Mom's hand is on Brenda's back the entire time. I swear, from where I am standing they might as well be married.

"Do you think they're ever going to figure it out?" Julio asks me as he sidles up beside me.

"Your guess is as good as mine," I reply. "But unless someone puts a gun to their heads, I doubt it."

"It's getting painful to watch."

I snort. "You think that's painful? You should try living with them!"

I say "them" because Brenda is always at our condo. She's got her own toothbrush and everything and I keep finding her clothes in the laundry basket. And last week, mom actually bought Brenda's favourite brand of coffee instead of her own.

I am about to tell Julio this when he spots the photographer walking around. He waves him over and leans in to ask him something, then points in the direction of my mom and Brenda. The photographer walks off, smiling.

"Did you just...," I begin but Julio just grins.

"I can't stand this any longer. Someone's gotta do something."

I watch as the photographer approaches Mrs Taylor, Brenda and my mom. He speaks to them briefly, shakes their hands and then turns to my mom. I move closer, effortlessly cutting my way through the crowd and managing to avoid Taylor himself because I really can't be bothered with him right now, and overhear the photographer saying, "You and your wife make a beautiful pair. Would you mind if I take a couple of pictures?"

My mom almost chokes on her wine and Brenda's eyes widen in what I guess is shock.

"My wife?" my mom says. She's somehow found her voice. It's high pitched, which is how she gets when she's embarrassed. "I'm sorry but..." She casts a glance at Brenda. Her cheeks are red. I know that look. She used it on me many times. "We're not married."

The photographer looks horrified and I can see him looking around for Julio, clearly wanting to put the blame on him. But Julio has disappeared, leaving the poor man to clean this mess up on his own, and I feel a bit sorry for him.

"Oh Sharon," Brenda says and she puts her hand on my mom's arm. I can see the photographer frown. He's probably thinking the same thing I am. So married.

Brenda continues, "It's an honest mistake. It happens." She then looks at the photographer and shares one of her brightest smiles, clearly sensing the poor man's discomfort. "I hope the offer still stands though?"

"Sure," he replies. He raises his camera and is about to snap the picture when...

"Rusty!"

My mom spots me and I wish I'd done a better job at hiding. She waves for me to come over and I walk towards them, reluctantly.

"Maybe we should make it a family photo," she suggests as she wraps her arm around me. She looks at Brenda in expectation. "Brenda?"

Brenda smiles and steps closer to Sharon until there is literally no space between them. "Can I hold your hand?" she asks softly.

I don't know where she suddenly found the confidence but my mom just nods and smiles wider than I have ever seen her smile when the photographer snaps the picture. Her arm is around my shoulder, her hand in Brenda's.

I find Julio by the table with food a little later and punch him between his shoulders. He turns around and just grins. "Well?"

I look over my shoulder. The photographer is long gone but Brenda is still holding my mother's hand.

"There's still a long way to go," I say, "but it's a start."

Chapter Text

She slammed her candy drawer shut and impatiently unwrapped the Twix she'd just grabbed out of it. The chocolate melted in her mouth and she leaned back slightly in her chair. The pile of paperwork on her desk seemed to only be growing and the words were dancing in front of her eyes.

Brenda looked up. The rest of her division had gone home two hours ago and the Murder Room was dark, aside from the lamp on Sanchez's desk that had been left on. It cast enough light for her to be able to see the whiteboard with the picture of the Vice Detective who was a suspected in a triple murder.

The sound of clicking heels against lino warned Brenda of the other woman's presence before she even saw her and irritation bubbled up in the pit of her stomach. She shoved the last piece of chocolate in her mouth and groaned when she saw Captain Raydor walk into her line of sight. Just laying eyes on her was enough to make Brenda's blood boil.

Oh, that woman!

She'd seen enough of the FID Captain after their investigation into the deaths of two police officers shot to death by Nazi scumbags and Brenda would have been perfectly happy if she never had to see the other woman again. But here they were, only a week later, investigating yet another dead police officer. And this time Raydor had proven to be even more infuriating than before.

Brenda waited for the knock and growled, "Come in". Raydor opened the door and stepped into Brenda's office clutching a file in front of her chest. She turned to face the blonde woman and Brenda found herself momentarily disarmed by the brunette's intense green eyes. Raydor wasn't wearing her glasses and it changed her features completely. Her face seemed softer somehow.

"Good evening, Chief. I was just going to leave this on your desk but since you're still here..." Raydor's voice trailed off.

Brenda reached for the file. "What is it?"

"A copy of my interview with Detective Langdon from five years ago," Raydor replied.

"Five years ago?" Brenda furrowed her brow. This was the first she heard about it. "FID investigated him before?"

"Not directly. His name came up in another investigation. I didn't make the connection until today. The conversation was off the record so nothing was every officially written down," Raydor explained. "But I wrote a report after the conversation took place." She paused. "For future reference."

"Future reference?" Brenda pressed. "Care to explain, Capt'n?"

Raydor pushed her hands into the pockets of her blazer. "Have you ever just looked at someone and know that, one day, they are going to make a mistake?" She held Brenda's gaze. The look was intense, like she was trying to stare into Brenda's soul. "When I looked at Langdon, I knew."

Brenda pinched the bridge of her nose and looked down at the file. The report was brief and it detailed a conversation that look place between Detective Thomas Langdon and Captain Sharon Raydor at a crime scene in North Los Angeles. An officer had been accused of using disproportionate violence against a prostitute. Langdon had been one of the first officers on the scene, or so the report described. It was when Brenda reached the part of where he described what he saw that her eyes snapped up. Raydor looked back at her.

"I see," Brenda said. She shuddered. Nothing made her skin crawl more than men who hated women. "It would appear that Detective Langdon doesn't exactly hold women in high esteem."

"I thought you'd might like to read it for yourself," Raydor answered. She began to turn around.

"Now that you're here," Brenda began, causing Raydor to arch an eyebrow in question. "I could use some help with some of these statements and the crime scene photos. I would normally ask Provenza but... He's gone home."

Raydor smiled. Doing paperwork with Deputy Chief Johnson wasn't exactly her idea of a fun night but if it meant solving the case and putting Langdon behind bars, it was worth it. And so she pulled one of the leather armchairs closer to Brenda's desk and sat down. She picked up some of the crime scene photos and crime scene reports and began to compare them. She had to squint. The light in the Chief's office was awful.

Brenda watched as Raydor studied the picture of their third victim's body, the red stocking still wrapped around her neck, tied in a neat knot. She then noticed Raydor pat both her pockets and softly groan in frustration when she clearly didn't find what she was looking for.

"Damnit."

"Is there a problem, Capt'n?"

"I forgot my glasses," Raydor sighed and rubbed her eyes. She didn't seem embarrassed about admitting it. "I can hardly read these reports!"

Brenda picked up her own black rimmed reading glasses and leaned across her desk. "You can borrow mine," she offered and Raydor looked up at her with a smile.

Brenda's prescription was not as strong as her own but the glasses helped her just enough to be able to read the paperwork.

Brenda leaned back in her chair, her eyes shamelessly fixed on the other woman. Raydor was an attractive woman and Brenda had noticed the absence of a wedding ring the moment they met. She wondered if there was anybody waiting for her at home or whether there was but she was choosing to spend her evening here, the same way Brenda did. She had texted Fritz an hour ago to say she would be late.

Raydor looked up and Brenda was struck by seeing her own glasses covering Raydor's eyes. It was... Unnerving. She couldn't put a finger on the feeling that crept up from the darkest pits of her stomach and began to seep into her veins. She couldn't take her eyes off the other woman. She had to look, like she was a moth drawn tons flame. She smiled and Raydor smiled back.

That's when it happened. The unexpected. Something broke. Something inside her. Her resistance, perhaps. Or whatever dam she had so carefully constructed over the years. Seeing the brunette Captain sit at her desk, so comfortable and relaxed, without a hint of judgment, just ripped open something in Brenda and she let the unexpected warmth pool inside her belly.

"Do you want to have dinner with me?" she blurted all of a sudden.

Raydor blinked, surprised. "Excuse me?"

"Here, I mean," Brenda clarified. She shifted in her seat, suddenly feeling antsy and restless. "I meant, have you eaten, Capt'n?"

"No, I was going to pick up something on my way home." Raydor checked her watch.

"Do you like sushi? There's a great place a couple of blocks from here and they deliver till late. I could call and get something." Brenda swallowed. The faint pink blush had spread from her cheeks down to her neck. "If you want to, that is."

"Sushi sounds nice," Raydor replied and removed the borrowed glasses. Green eyes, bright and intense, held Brenda's gaze. They were disarming and so incredibly green, Brenda felt she would drown if she looked into them too long. "Thank you, Chief."

Brenda leaned over to pick up the phone but before dialing the number turned to look at the brunette. "If we're havin' dinner together, Capt'n, you might as well call me Brenda."

"Sharon," the older woman said and smiled. "You can call me Sharon."

She put Brenda's glasses back on and Brenda was suddenly glad she had decided to work late.

Chapter Text

She didn't often use the gym and shower facilities that were located on the top floor of Parker Center but sometimes, on days like today, she would come here to release the tension and anger that would build up inside her through a feverish running session on the treadmill or cross trainer. Coming here after seven at night also meant she was usually alone, just the way she liked it. Any earlier and she would be scrutinized by every cop in the room. No one liked FID, not even in the gym.

Sharon Raydor dumped her gym bag on one of the wooden benches in the ladies' locker room and began unbuttoning her blazer. She heard a shower running so clearly someone else was still here but they would be gone soon. She shrugged herself out of the blazer and folded it neatly before putting it on the bench. She then took off her high heeled pumps and her feet breathed a sigh of relief. She made quick work of her pinstriped pants and had just folded them when a soft noise drew her attention.

It had sounded like a sigh and it came from the shower. Sharon turned back to her pants and lay them neatly on top of her blazer. Then she heard it again. A little louder this time. Another sigh, a soft, smothered moan. She froze, feeling like an intruder because it certainly sounded like whoever was in the shower was having a good time and was unaware of Sharon being here.

"Oooh..."

This time it was unmistakable and Sharon felt her cheeks flush red but at the same time, something inside her woke up. Her teeth sank into her bottom lip as she strained her hearing for another noise. She suddenly felt warm, even if she was wearing just her white silk blouse and her underwear. Just when she thought that the other woman had stopped what she was doing, she heard it again.

"Hmmm..."

The hairs on the back of Sharon's neck stood up. This time she recognized the voice. She knew it. She knew it well. She was listening to Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson pleasuring herself in the shower.

She should leave. She knew she should. And later on she would tell herself that she tried - even if she knew it was a lie- but she was drawn to the soft sounds, and to the woman making them, like a moth was drawn to a flame. Sharon's breath hitched as she recognised her body obvious arousal. Her nipples hardened in her bra and she suddenly felt warm and damp between her thighs.

Brenda Leigh Johnson was unlike any woman Sharon had ever met. She possessed re questionably skill to get under Sharon's skin by just looking at her, but at the same time she brought out the best in her because she drove Sharon to want to proof herself, to be better, and she brought out Sharon's softer side too, because Sharon had seen that around them, people were starting to take aim at the Deputy Chief and someone would soon pull the trigger.

"Ooh..." The moan was a little more high pitched this time and was followed by laboured breathing. "Oh... Sharon..."

Sharon froze. Did she just hear Brenda Leigh Johnson moan her name in a moment of... Well, a moment that most definitely wasn't hatred? The back of her throat became dry and her heart thudded in her chest. She took a step towards the showers, then another and another.

The showers were just cubicles closed off by simple white shower curtains. The one towards the far left was the one in use and Sharon could see a shadow move behind the plastic. The water was warm and steam had filled the air. She considered turning around and leaving but she just couldn't. Brenda had whispered her name whilst touching herself. Brenda, who was very much married, had said "Sharon."

The soft moans became more urgent, more desperate, and Sharon clenched her thighs. She was wet and warm and desire and lust pulsated through her body. She let her index finger ghost over her panties and hissed softly at the response she got from her body. Her hips bucked involuntarily and she ached for release.

Later that night she wouldn't remember what came over her but she softly took the shower curtain that separated her from Brenda and pulled it aside. The sight that lay behind it robbed her of her breath.

Brenda stood under the hot flow of water, back arched slightly, and with her left hand massaging her breasts and her right hand rubbing feverishly between her legs. Her eyes were closed and her head tilted back, wet curls cascading down her shoulders and back. She seemed lost in her own world and Sharon, for a split second, considered closing the curtain again and walking away.

But something took hold of her and she stepped into the small shower cubicle. The steam and the spray of water made her blouse cling to her body. Even through her bra and shirt, her swollen nipples stood proud,

It wasn't until she softly caressed Brenda's stomach that the blonde's eyes flew open and she staggered backwards. Sharon saw the fear, the panic, the terror... But before Brenda could say anything, Sharon captured the blonde's lips into a soft but persistent kiss

Brenda instantly relaxed and snaked her arms around Sharon's neck. Sharon's blouse was soaked now and clung to her frame but she didn't care. The warm water rained down on both of them as Brenda pulled her closer, her tongue hungrily circling around Sharon's, desperate to taste more of her. And Sharon invited Brenda's tongue into her mouth, teasing it playfully with her own.

"Off," Brenda groaned when they parted briefly and yanked at the soaking fabric that covered Sharon's body. A button popped and landed on the floor and their gazes briefly locked before Brenda fisted the material roughly and yanked it open. She gasped at the sight of Sharon's bra clad breasts and wet skin. She peeled the blouse down Sharon's arms and the discarded material landed on the floor. She made quick work of Sharon's bra clasp and let her fingers trail over swollen nipples.

"I wish I'd known," Sharon husked against Brenda's lips.

"Known what?" The blonde sighed.

"I wish I'd known you might like this," Sharon whispered. Soft green eyes pierced into brown. "Me, I mean."

Brenda smirked as she pulled Sharon closer. Their naked bodies came together under the flow of water. "Now you know," Brenda replied and her warm lips left a hot trail over Sharon's shoulder and up to her neck. Nails dug into soft flesh and she shuddered when she felt Sharon's knee press between her thighs.

Sharon's hands trailed up from Brenda's waist to her breasts. She cupped them and felt her nipples harden against the palms of her hands. Brenda's skin was soft and slick and to finally be able to touch it, to feel it, was everything and more she expected it to be. The soft groan her touch elicited from the younger woman was like music to her ears and Sharon attacked Brenda's neck with hungry lips when the blonde's head fell back against the shower cubicle wall.

"Oh, God, Sharon," Brenda sighed, her voice hoarse. "Yes..."

She brought their mouths back together when Sharon's fingers tangled up in her curls. She pushed her tongue past Sharon's lips and unexpectedly flipped their positions around, pushing the older woman up against the wall. For a moment Sharon was startled, the stones cold against her skin, but then the shock was gone and she relaxed.

Her hands slid down across Brenda's back to her ass and she let her fingers sink into the soft flesh of the younger woman's buttocks. Brenda's hands had found their way up between their bodies and greedily explored Sharon's breasts, rolling a perk nipple between her thumb and index finger. She watched with intense eyes how Sharon's eyes fluttered shut under the touch and moaned softly. Brenda kissed the length of Sharon's throat, sucking down on her pulse point and Sharon's nails scratched at Brenda's skin when Brenda let her teeth sink into Sharon's neck.

Hungrily Brenda kissed her way from Sharon's shoulders down to her chest until she encountered a hard nipple with her lips. She circled it with her tongue, revelling at the feeling of Sharon's fingers now roaming over her scalp, and sucked down. Softly at first but then harder. With a soft 'pop' she released the nipple and moved to its twin. Sharon arched her back when Brenda circled the hard pebble with her tongue.

She let her hands trail over Sharon's stomach. It was flat but bore signs of pregnancy. Faded stretch marks, silver in colour, told the story of life growing inside this body. Brenda explored every inch of Sharon's body with her hands, her lips and her eyes. She devoured the sight in front of her, from the valley between Sharon's breasts and the dark rosy nipples to the silver lines across her abdomen en her belly button, the skin dusted with freckles and the small patch of dark curls at the top of the triangle between Sharon's thighs.

Sharon gasped loudly when Brenda knelt down on the floor, her hands now roaming over Sharon's thighs. Softly Brenda pressed her lips to the soft skin of Sharon's hips before slowly kissing her way inwards. She felt Sharon shudder under her touch, felt her tremble, and Brenda softly nudged the older woman's legs apart. Sharon was wet, Brenda could see the arousal coat the inside of her thighs, and she bit down on her lower lip as she gently let a single finger slide through Sharon's swollen folds.

"Shit," Sharon swore and looked down.

Her eyes locked with Brenda and she almost came undone just at the sight of the blonde looking back up at her, smiling, her brown eyes twinkling as she brought her mouth to Sharon's centre and tasted her arousal. Brenda pushed the tip of her tongue between slick folds and watched how Sharon nearly fell apart.

"I have been thinkin' about doin' this for a long time," Brenda confessed and circled her index finger around Sharon's entrance. She pushed slowly and licked her lips when she effortlessly slipped into Sharon's warm wetness. She added a second finger and looked up at her brand new lover.

"You have no idea how many times i thought about takin' you on my desk."

"Then why didn't you?" Sharon sighed, her core throbbing as Brenda pushed slowly in and out of her.

"I wasn't sure if you wanted me to."

Sharon smirked. "And now you do."

The blonde's eyes narrowed slightly. "And now I do."

Brenda's tongue found Sharon's clit and she circled it. Sharon's hands suddenly flew into her hair and yanked at her curls. Brenda's free hand moved around her lover's thigh and pushed it up. Sharon draped her leg over Brenda shoulder and hooked it around her, her body rocking desperately in a rhythm that matched the blonde woman's thrusts.

Brenda sucked and licked at Sharon's swollen clit, her teeth grazing it softly. She tastes of summer rain and midnight skies, of everything she had ever wanted but had not been able to have. She tasted like the forbidden fruit.

Sharon's fingers tugged at Brenda's hair and her eyes had fallen shut. Her face, now void of make-up, was a mask of pleasure and desire. She stood on the tips of her toes, balancing herself, and her soft moans grew louder when Brenda sucked down on her most sensitive spot.

"Oh... Yes... Brenda... Oh god... Don't stop... Don't..."

Sharon's words were interrupted by ragged breaths and her breasts bounced softly as her chest rose and fell quicker and quicker. Her muscles strained as she inched closer and closer to her release.

When Sharon came, she was absolutely silent. Her body stiffened and for a few precious seconds, all she could hear and feel was the blood rushing in her ears and her heart thundering in her chest. And then she came crashing down and the clutched at Brenda for dear life, desperate not to fall, and Brenda held her up, pulled her close, and their bodies rocked softly together as Sharon rode out the waves of her orgasm. When Brenda kissed her, Sharon tasted herself on her lover's lips.

As they moved, the water still falling down on them, Sharon's knee pressed between Brenda's thighs. The younger woman willingly opened her legs further, welcoming the friction, and brought their mouths together for another searing kiss. Sharon's tongue battled with hers for control and Brenda willingly gave it to her. She pressed herself harder against Sharon's leg, her own arousal now coating her lover's skin, and Sharon's hands came to a rest on Brenda's hips.

Brenda moved slowly, seeking and quickly finding the perfect rhythm, and continued to kiss Sharon. She rode against her lover's leg with urgency and shuddered when Sharon brought her hand down between them and pushed a single finger inside her. She whimpered and rested her head against Sharon's shoulder when she recognized the familiar feeling in her belly.

Sharon curled her finger inside Brenda, brushing against her soft walls, and found a soft, slow rhythm. Brenda continued to move against her, rocking and rolling her hips, her nails clawing at Sharon's back. She knew she would leave marks but she didn't care. She kissed, bit and sucked on every bit of skin she could find and her teeth sank into Sharon's shoulder when the brunette let her tongue circle around her earlobe.

"Sharon... Sharon...oh..."

Brenda's whispers became louder and she chanted the other woman's name over and over, like a mantra. She pushed a little harder, and Sharon stilled her finger for the briefest of moments and in that split second, Brenda fell over the edge. She clung to Sharon as her orgasm traveled through her with the speed and strength of lightening.

Wrapped up in each other, their bodies almost one, they stood under the hot flow of water as it washed away the physical remnants of what had happened. But it couldn't wash away the bruises and the finger marks, the scratches left behind by teeth, or the memories that would last beyond today.

This was the beginning of something new.

Chapter Text

"Hey, I said I'd take that one. It's full of my stuff anyway." Sharon came walking out of the house to find Brenda lifting the last remaining box out of boot of the car.

Brenda smiled as she adjusted the box in her arms so the weight was evenly spread. "It's not heavy. I'm stronger than I look."

Sharon bumped against Brenda's shoulder as she walked past her up the steps to the front porch and turned around in the doorway. "You probably got used to carrying heavy things around when you were dragging that bag along everywhere you went."

Brenda just stuck her tongue out and carried the box, which proved heavier than she thought, into the house. She put it down on top of another box that had been haphazardly abandoned next to the couch and peered inside it. Books. Typical Sharon. Bringing an entire library to their new home.

Brenda looked around. The large, spacious living room with the big windows looked a mess with furniture and boxes in various places. None of it made any sense at all. They had just dragged everything into the house and left it. There were more boxes in the kitchen and the only thing in the whole house that was where it should be and had been put together, was the bed.

Sharon leaned against the door frame and watched Brenda stand between the boxes. Dressed in worn out jeans and an oversized football jersey, her blonde curls tumbling down her shoulders, Brenda looked completely disarming and, even if she wouldn't tell Brenda out loud because she would always grumble when Sharon said it, adorable.

Some days Sharon could barely believe they had come this far. Six years after Brenda leaving the LAPD and Sharon taking over Major Crimes, one divorce (Brenda and Fritz) and one broken relationship (Sharon and Andy) later, they were about to move into their new home. Their forever home, Sharon called it. Their together home was what Brenda said.

They had certainly come a long way from the night they first met in a hospital corridor. Brenda had returned to Los Angeles a year after moving to Washington. She'd filed for divorce and had accepted a position back at the DA's office, which was mainly Andrea Hobb's doing. Only a week after accepting the job, their paths had crossed during an investigation and Sharon had asked Brenda out for dinner, as friends. The dinners became a weekly thing. Then came Saturday night at Sharon's home, or Sunday morning at Brenda's. It was only when Sharon realised she had turned down Andy's invitation to go out so she could go out with Brenda instead that she understood what had happened. Breaking up with Andy, whom she'd been dating throughout her budding friendship with Brenda, had been hard but he understood.

Exactly a year after turning up on Brenda's doorstep and telling her she was in love with her, they'd gotten the keys to their new home.

Sharon closed the front door behind her and walked up to Brenda, slipping her arms around her waist. The younger woman leaned back, humming softly when Sharon caressed a small patch of skin just above the waistband of her jeans.

Brenda smiled to herself. Who would ever have thought that the old saying was true? Because when one door closed, another one had definitely opened.

Chapter Text

Take your eyes off of me so I can leave
I'm far too ashamed to do it with you watching me

~ Adele - Love In The Dark

She heard the soft sound of bare feet on the hard wooden floor, the rustling of clothes dropping to the ground, the steady and familiar sound of breathing. She smelt the sweet perfume moments before the mattress dipped and a warm body wrapped itself around her.

"Hey," Brenda's soft voice whispered in her ear.

Sharon sighed contently when she felt Brenda's fingers stroke across her stomach. "Hi." Her eyes had adapted to the dark and she rolled over. Brenda had propped herself up on her elbow and was watching her.

"I didn't think you'd come."

Brenda didn't answer but instead pressed her lips against the warm skin of Sharon's shoulder.

Sharon's eyes fluttered shut. It was almost midnight and she had gone to bed no longer expecting to feel Brenda's arms around her tonight. But she knew she couldn't complain because this was the role she was forced to play, the role she had accepted, and if this was all she could have tonight then she would cherish it but it was getting harder to suppress the pain. She was living the kind of life she had always told herself she would never accept for herself.

Brenda studied Sharon's face, or as much of it as she could see in the darkness. She knew every line, every crease. She knew the way Sharon's lips curved, the way her nose wrinkled when she smiled. This was where they met, in the shadows of the night. This was where she came to find shelter, to seek warmth. In Sharon's arms was where she wanted to be but it never extended into the light of day.

In the mornings she would rush home, back to the man to whom she had given her hand in marriage and whose ring she wore, and she and Sharon would once again just become passing ships in the office, casting each other no more than a few glances, speaking no more than a few words. Between the walls of the Murder Room they were strangers. Only here, in Sharon's bed, did they know each other. Brenda had never seen the early morning sun on Sharon's face, had never seen how the light would change her green eyes into endless oceans or lit up the freckles on her skin.

It had been about the sex at first. Quick, meaningless sex that helped them relieve the tension. Then it became about lust, about greed and wanting something they couldn't get anywhere else. No questions asked, no strings attached. But then, gradually, it had become about just being together. About talking and laughing, about having dinner and drinking wine, or watching a movie or taking a walk. Now Brenda, when it was late, would often just slip under the covers and wrap herself around Sharon and in Brenda's arms, Sharon would sleep, knowing full well that in the morning she would wake up alone.

Sharon wasn't sure how Brenda felt and if she was completely honest to herself, she was afraid to ask. She wasn't sure she wanted to know because if these nights weren't as precious to Brenda as they were to her, she couldn't face the hurt. She had given too much of herself, had opened up too much, and now she was just afraid to have whatever little she had, taken away. And if these moments did mean as much to Brenda then Sharon would want more, she knew she would ask more of Brenda, and she knew she would inevitably end up pushing her away.

"Stop thinking," Brenda murmured, her mouth ghosting over Sharon's shoulder. Her blonde curls tickled the other woman's skin. Her voice was thick with sleep and her fingers lazily grazed over Sharon's arm. "I can almost hear the cogs turning in your head."

Sharon didn't answer, choosing instead to just lift Brenda's chin with one finger and kissing her softly. The shadows were their only witness and if these walls could talk they would tell a story of deceit. Brenda betrayed her husband every night she came here and Sharon just betrayed herself.

Brenda wrapped Sharon up in her arms. Feeling the brunette's skin against her own made her feel warm and just erased the darkness she had faced in her Murder Room today. Being with Sharon somehow freed her, helped her break down the chains that tied her, and the more time went by, the more desperate she became for freedom.

She knew that she should be at home right now, asleep at her husband's side. He didn't ask where she had been when she came home in the mornings but she saw the hurt in his eyes. He knew she lied but he did not dare ask because once he did, her betrayal would be out in the open for the whole world to see, and it would become real. Right now they could carry on pretending Brenda wasn't having an affair with another woman and that their marriage wasn't falling apart. They could keep on pretending that Brenda didn't love Sharon.

In the comfort of each other's arms, Sharon and Brenda fell asleep, both ignoring the harsh truth that would inevitably come knocking on their door. Maybe not tomorrow, or next week, but it would come. But right now they had this moment and they were so used to the other's body that they fitted perfectly together; Brenda's hand on Sharon's hip, Sharon's fingers on Brenda's arm, their chests rising and falling in the same rhythm. It was here, with each other, where they were home.

*

Morning came too soon.

Brenda never switched the light on. Not because she didn't want to but because she couldn't bear to see Sharon's eyes watching her, couldn't bear her own pain as she left. The embarrassment, the shame. She had become that person; the one who crept out before the sun came out and went back to living a lie. She usually tried not to look back at the bed and would leave without kissing Sharon goodbye. And that was how she started off this morning.

She found her clothes on the floor and got dressed, buttoning up her jeans and readjusting her blazer. She would go home, shower and get ready for work. She bound her hair in a ponytail with her back turned towards the bed. She felt Sharon's eyes burn into her back the same way she always did. She would always feel them as she left, following her every step until she reached the door, silently pleading with her not to go. But today, today Brenda turned around and met them. She looked into Sharon's eyes and something changed.

Instead of just walking to the door and leaving quickly and quietly, Brenda walked to the bed and leaned in. For a split second she hesitated but then she kissed Sharon briefly on the lips. She lingered longer than she had planned, pain settling in her chest. Brown eyes lost themselves in green.

And then she promised, "I'll see you tonight."

Sharon just answered, "I'll wait."

And Brenda knew she would.

Chapter Text

There were bad days and then there were... well, by lack of a more appropriate word, royally fucked up days. Today was one of those royally fucked up days and Sharon Raydor wished, for the first time in her career, that she had said, "no."

But it was too late now. She was standing at a crime scene, cars riddled with bullets, uniformed police officers everywhere and a very unhappy looking Lieutenant Provenza, who was giving her daggers whenever she looked his way. Since finding out that she was taking over Major Crimes, effective immediately, Provenza had been less than forthcoming.

Sharon couldn't blame him. It had only been a week since Chief Johnson's departure and she knew the whole division was angry. Sharon herself was angry. The way the Chief had been pushed out of Major Crimes and the LAPD had been nothing short of insulting and being offered the opportunity to replace Chief Johnson had just been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Sharon had wanted to refuse, had even said she didn't want to replace Chief Johnson, argued that the division needed more time to get used to the idea instead of springing it on them without warning. But Chief Taylor had been adamant so here she was, being stared at with the same contempt she always got when working for FID. Any good relationship she had built up with this squad toward the end of Chief Johnson's career had been well and truly ruined.

The day didn't get any better from there on out. Upon her return to the Murder Room she had stumbled about Rusty Beck who had, again, run away from his foster home. She had dealt with angry teenagers before, having raised two herself, but Rusty was something else. Her emotions had only turned into more turmoil when she opened the top drawer of the desk, Chief Johnson's desk, and was confronted with the enormous pile of candy.

She'd dealt with Rusty as best as she could and then proceeded to try and persuade her new squad to at least give her the benefit of the doubt, which was proving harder than expected. Provenza seemed set on hating her for the remainder of his career, however long that was to be, and the rest of the division was happy to follow his lead. Well, everyone besides Sykes but she was only being nice because there was a promotion in it for her.

When she finally found a quiet moment to reflect on what had happened in the last few hours, the door to her office, because that's what it was now, closed and the blinds drawn, Sharon leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. What the hell had she done? What was she thinking? How could she ever begin to fill Chief Johnson's shoes?

The knock on the door startled her and she snapped, "Enter!"

The door opened and a young looking man, no older than her own son, wearing a baseball cap and a red jacket, stepped inside. In his hand he held a massive bunch of flowers. Pink roses and lots of greens.

"Delivery for Captain Sharon Raydor," he informed her and pushed a clipboard towards her. "Sign here, please."

She scribbled down her signature and didn't say goodbye to him when he left, her eyes instead fixed on the flowers. There was a card but she hesitated before picking it up. She glanced at the closed blinds. Anyone in the Murder Room would have seen the delivery guy. Was this their idea of some sick joke? She frowned. Maybe not. The flowers didn't look like a funeral arrangement. The bouquet looked bright and elegant.

Sharon opened the small envelope and found a small card inside. She looked down at the print on the front. It was a scene of a field of white flowers with a soft blue sky and what looked like a boathouse and a lake. It was stunningly drawn. She swallowed hard before opening the card. Her heart fluttered at the sight of the familiar curvy handwriting. She had seen so many reports filled with the familiar writing and she smiled as she let her fingertip follow the words.

"Just because.

XoXo

B."

Chapter Text

This lawsuit was a nightmare. Chief Pope only cared about himself, Gavin only cared about winning and Chief Johnson... Well, she didn't care at all. She just kept sticking her head in the sand and insisted she had done nothing wrong. To see that complete utter lack of understanding of just how serious this whole thing was, was frightening and incredibly frustrating.

The fact that Goldman had then tried to trick Brenda into signing a settlement where she would basically admit professional indifference just so he could sue her at a later time had definitely not helped.

"I knew it," Sharon had hissed when Gavin pointed it out. What she really wanted to say she kept to herself but none of it was exactly friendly. She just hoped that Chief Johnson would now finally understand what was happening.

She felt protective of the Chief. She had to be because nobody else was. Everyone was just trying to cover their own ass. Sure, they all had their reputations for think about but to see Pope attempt to just hang Brenda out to dry had left her feeling angry. And she'd told him too. She'd told him before they even knew what Goldman was up to. She had told him straight to his face. "I don't trust Goldman. And I don't trust you either."

Part of it was fuelled by her anger towards him. He had set her on Chief Johnson and made it look like she was still doing the audit on Major Crimes on Delk's orders, not his. Because he was an asshole and didn't want the Chief to know.

But, her desire to protect Brenda Leigh Johnson was fuelled by her feelings for the Southern woman. Not that Sharon would admit that to anyone if asked, but she had admitted it to herself at least. And she'd learnt to push those feelings away, even if every day they seemed to grow stronger by the strength of a forest fire.

Sharon walked into the Murder Room to find it deserted. It was the middle of the day so she could only assume the division had rolled out. She was about to turn around and leave when she noticed the blinds move in Chief Johnson's office.

Sharon sighed and crossed the Murder Room and knocked on the Chief's door. She heard a soft, "come in" and she opened the door.

Brenda furiously wiped at her eyes, hoping that Sharon couldn't see the red marks left behind by the tears. She quickly put on her reading glasses in the hope of disguising the signs of distress and pretended go be looking at some of the paperwork in front of her when in reality, she didn't read a single word.

"Chief?" Sharon had been a cop long enough to immediately sense something was off. Trained green eyes fixed on the blonde woman sitting behind the desk. She noticed the slightly creased sweater, the three empty Twix wrappers and the abandoned cup of coffee.

She stepped further into the office. "Chief, are you ok?"

"Fine," Brenda lied. She didn't make eye contact. Sharon Raydor always had a way of seeing right through her and she didn't want that. Not right now. The woman's uncanny way of understanding just how Brenda's mind worked was unnerving at the best of times.

Sharon's eyes narrowed behind her glasses. "Are you sure?"

"What do you want me to say?" Brenda snapped and instantly regretted it when she saw Sharon took a quick step back.

Great. So now she was even scaring the Ice Queen from FID. She could add that to the list of people she'd managed to upset today. Right behind the rest of her division and her husband. Three for thee. Well done, Brenda.

"I'm sorry," she quickly apologised, which was more than what Fritz had gotten. "Capt'n, I'm sorry."

"You have a lot on your mind," Sharon calmly said. She walked further into the office but didn't sit down. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Make this whole thing go away?"

Sharon swallowed. It was the first time she'd seen the hurt in the Chief's eyes. Perhaps she had been wrong about the younger woman not realising just how serious this was. She pushed her hands into the pockets of her purple blazer and said, softly, "I'm trying."

Brenda snorted. "You're the only one." She yanked open the top drawer of her desk and her hand hovered over the pile of candy. She didn't choose immediately. "Chief Pope only cares about himself and Gavin only cares about his reputation." She looked back up, brown eyes suddenly piercing into Sharon's green. "What do you care about, Capt'n?"

"You."

"What?" Brenda blinked. "What did you just say?"

"You said it yourself. Chief Pope and Gavin care only about themselves and you seem to be doing a very good job at not caring at all. So someone needs to look out for you because Chief, if I don't have your back around here, nobody else will."

"Oh."

Brenda sank a little deeper into her chair. She crumbled inside. She knew Sharon was fighting this fight for her. Hell, when Fritz had pointed out that no one had her back, Sharon had proven to her that she did.

"I don't see a way out of this," she lamented. "I just don't see how this is going to end."

"And I wish I had an answer for you but I don't." Sharon circled the desk and then leaned against it, folding her arms across her chest, and she looked at the Chief. She and Brenda were on the same side now, separated by maybe three inches of air and the fact that Brenda was sitting down.

She took a deep breath. "Look both ways, Brenda Leigh. Something might be heading towards you that you don't see coming."

"And what exactly is that?"

Brenda realised the conversation shifted. Sharon called her 'Brenda Leigh.' Only her Mama and Daddy ever called her that. Something crackled in the air between them. Something unspoken, unshared. Slowly she looked up at Sharon through her eyelashes and found the brunette looking back at her. Green eyes dropped to Brenda's lips. It was only a second but it was enough.

Her secret was out.

Brenda slowly pushed herself out of her chair and before Sharon had chance to think, the blonde was standing in front of her, both hands planted firmly on the desk, trapping Sharon between the hard wooden surface and Brenda's body. The Chief's chest was heaving a little and the look in her eyes was hungry, almost predatory, as she studied Sharon's face. The faint marks left behind by the tears had faded.

"What is coming my way?" Brenda purred, her face closer to Sharon's face than ever before.

Sharon's breath hitched. "That's up to you." She didn't know where she'd found the courage or the strength to speak. She lifted her chin up a little, challenging the younger woman. Green eyes held brown.

"Bren-da."

The blonde's name sounded like a sigh and the echo died out when Brenda's lips roughly covered Sharon's. Instantly Sharon's hands flew up into thick blonde curls and she groaned softly when Brenda pushed her harder against the desk. Their tongues battled for dominance for a few seconds before Sharon relented and allowed Brenda to set the rhythm.

When they parted because the need for oxygen became too much, both women were panting slightly. Brenda rested her forehead against Sharon's.

"There is only one thing I want to see coming," she whispered as her fingers began unbuttoning Sharon's blazer.

Sharon pursed her lips. "And what's that?"

Brenda pushed Sharon's blazer down her shoulders and a hand slid up underneath her white silk blouse. She smirked when her index finger grazed over a swollen nipple.

"You."

Chapter Text

"I don't want to do this anymore."

"What do you mean?"

"Brenda, I am not some kind of toy you can just pick up or throw away whenever you feel like it."

Sharon heaved a sigh and looked at the blonde woman standing in her kitchen. Brenda had walked in fifteen minutes earlier, having used the spare key Sharon had given her only the week before. She'd shrugged herself out of that hideous pink trench coat and had snuck up on Sharon as she slept on the couch and kissed her. Brenda's roaming hands made it quite clear why she was here but Sharon had backed away.

And now they found themselves standing in Sharon's kitchen, anger crackling in the air between them. Sharon had promised herself she would have this conversation with Brenda, even if the younger woman didn't want to have it with her. She had to say it.

"Sharon, you know that's not how I feel!" Brenda objected.

"Isn't it?" Sharon retorted. She was surprised at her own anger, at how easily it came to the surface. The wounds she thought had healed after everything Jack had done to her had not healed as much as she'd thought. Her eyes found Brenda's.

"Did you tell your husband where you were going tonight?"

Brenda's face fell and Sharon knew enough.

"I didn't think so."

"That's not fair!" Brenda protested.

"And cheating on your husband is?" Sharon exclaimed and she watched the way Brenda's eyes widened. "Is coming over here whenever you want to get laid fair on me? Have you ever actually stopped to think about who ends up getting hurt in all of this?"

All the emotions that had been building up inside Sharon in recent weeks suddenly came pouring out. What had started out as a moment of passion had turned into a full blown affair that saw them seeking out each other's company at every available opportunity. But now, a few weeks into this madness, the dust had begun to settle and Sharon could finally see clearly. What she and Brenda were doing... It carries risks. Too many risks. It carried consequences. And it would inevitably end with someone getting hurt.

"You're not the only one who has something to lose here, Sharon."

"This has to end, Brenda. I can't do this anymore. I don't want to be your dirty little secret. I spent too much of my life not being important enough to be someone's first choice. I refuse to make that mistake again."

Brenda stared at the brunette woman. Sharon had the uncanny ability of getting under her skin. It had been what drew her to the older woman in the first place and over time it had just evolved into something... Different.

"So you're sayin' we're over?" Brenda asked, a tremor of hurt echoing in her voice. She bit down on her lip, hard. She tasted the first drops of blood on the tip of her tongue.

Sharon turned away. She couldn't look at Brenda any longer but she still felt her eyes burn into her back. "We were never anything to begin with."

Brenda swallowed. The tears stung behind her eyes. "So all of this..." She gestured around the kitchen. "All the nights when you asked me to come over, the fact you gave me a key to your front door..." She paused. Bitterness settled in her chest and she remembered a moment from only a few nights ago. They had been wrapped up in each other's arms, surrounded by the darkness of Sharon's bedroom.

"You told me you love me."

"I don't."

"What?"

"I don't love you."

Sharon kept her back turned to Brenda. She couldn't look at her. If she did, she knew she would fall apart.

"So you lied?" Brenda asked softly.

When Sharon didn't acknowledge her, Brenda took the wineglass that stood in front of her and poured its content down the sink. She then grabbed her keys and her purse and shot a final glance in Sharon's direction. Tears glistened in her eyes but she was too angry to allow herself to cry in front of Sharon.

"How dare you be so self-righteous? It's not like I am the only one involved in this. You are just as guilty as I am."

"I'm not the one doing the cheating, Brenda. You are." Sharon slowly turned around. "That's what you do, isn't it? You sneak around behind people's backs. It's what you've always done. Anything to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions. You just move on when you're done. You know, I am actually surprised it took this long for someone to try and wrap a lawsuit around your neck!"

Brenda stared at Sharon in disbelief and Sharon only realized what she'd said, how it had sounded, when she saw the tears falling from Brenda's eyes.

"So you're sayin' I deserve this?" Brenda's lips formed a thin line. "You think that having my life ripped apart is somethin' I had comin'?"

Sharon knew she'd gone too far.

"No," she quietly said. She wanted to take it back, all of it. Say something different. Say nothing at all. "Brenda, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

Brenda didn't wait to hear the rest of that sentence. She left the kitchen and walked through the living room to the front door. She yanked it open and stepped out into the corridor. She was about to walk away when she felt Sharon's hand on her shoulder.

"Brenda, wait."

"For what?" the blonde snapped. Her brown eyes were ablaze with anger. "To hear you say again that you don't love me? I heard you the first time, Sharon."

She took Sharon's hand, pushed something in it and turned around. She didn't speak.

Brenda didn't take the elevator, choosing to make her way down the stairs instead. The sound of her high heels against the concrete steps bounced off the walls of the stairway. The noise carried on long after she'd left. She didn't look back.

When Sharon looked down she saw the silver metal key to her front door lying in the palm of her hand.

Chapter Text

Sharon held the door and waited for Brenda to step into the restaurant. As she followed the blonde Chief inside, she was still surprised that they were actually here. Asking Brenda to join her for dinner after a long day had been a bit of a spur of the moment thing. She hadn't expected the Chief to agree but Brenda had and now they were here, at Sharon's favourite restaurant.

It was a small place, tucked away between an expensive boutique and a coffee bar. Easily overlooked, which was perhaps why Sharon liked it so much. The food was great here, as was the service, and the atmosphere was unlike anywhere else she'd ever been. Small, cozy, with fresh flowers on the table and a decades old jukebox that played tunes from the fifties.

"I never even knew this place existed," Brenda said in surprise as she looked around. There were maybe twenty-five tables. Only a handful were occupied. The smells wafting from the kitchen were delicious and her stomach growled. She only now realized just how hungry she really was.

Sharon smirked as she pointed at one of the tables and briefly put her hand on Brenda's lower back to guide her in that direction.

"I stumbled across it by accident," she smiled as she watched Brenda slip into her seat after draping her blazer over the back of her chair. She left out the part where she'd been on a date and her date had taken her here. The date had been a onetime thing but the restaurant was not.

A waiter approached and before Brenda had a chance to say anything, Sharon said, "A bottle of Merlot, please." Green eyes briefly made contact with brown and Sharon leaned back in her chair.

"Thank you for invitin' me," Brenda said. It sounded sincere. She opened her mouth to speak again when her cell phone buzzed inside her purse.

She dug it out from underneath a Ding Dong and a Twix bar and discovered the buzzing had been a text message. From Fritz, it said. She opened it. There was just one line.

What time will you be home? Xoxo

Brenda typed her reply out quickly. Working late. Don't wait up. She didn't add an X to mark a kiss.

She then shoved the phone back in her purse, after making sure it was on silent, and dropped the purse at her feet. For the rest of the night she paid no attention to it.

"Anythin' you'd recommend?" she asked as she studied the menu. She looked back up to find Sharon looking at her, something unidentifiable flickering behind her eyes. It vanished as quickly as it had started, leaving Brenda to wonder if she'd actually seen it at all.

"The salmon is amazing, so is the linguini," Sharon said softly. She smiled when the waiter arrived with the bottle of Merlot and two glasses. He then lit the small candle on the table, sent the two women a smile and walked away.

Brenda watched the flame reflect in Sharon's glasses. The faint orange glow lit up the older woman's features, enhanced them somehow. It softened the dark circles under her eyes, courtesy of a 72 hour reporting cycle she'd found herself in, and made her look less pale.

"Salmon it is then," Brenda decided. She wasn't much of a fish lover, unless it was catfish, but she was willing to give it a try.

Sharon ordered the linguini and then poured each of them a glass of wine. She put the bottle down and watched Brenda as the blonde let her eyes dance around the restaurant. Always a cop, Sharon thought. Brenda had a distinct eye for the detail. She would never walk into a place without immediately taking in her surroundings. By now she would have clocked every patron in here, all the members of staff and she would've located all the exits. Sharon knew this because she herself did the exact same thing.

"This is nice," Brenda said, looking back at Sharon. "Sharon."

Sharon has asked Brenda to join her for dinner under the cover of talking work but right now, the burdens of being police officers tangled up in a dark and messy case far behind them, she didn't want to bring those shadows in here. She just wanted to sit here and... Enjoy.

"So," Brenda leaned back in her chair and pursed her lips a little. "Here we are."

Sharon smiled. "Yes. Here we are."

What followed was silence. But neither of them felt uncomfortable. Sharon sipped from her wine, her gaze occasionally drifting back to Brenda. Whenever she did, she found the younger woman looking back at her. She could feel that Brenda was trying to read her but it didn't unnerve her. If anything, she felt like letting the Chief see a little bit more of the woman behind the Ice Queen mask. And so the next time Sharon met Brenda's gaze, she smiled.

Brenda's stomach did a double flip and she felt the blood rush to her cheeks. Her skin changed into a soft shade of pink and her heartbeat quickened. The ground underneath her feet felt like quicksand and she was starting to sink.

"Have you seen your kids lately?" Brenda managed to ask a somewhat sensible question.

"Not since Christmas," Sharon admitted. "They both have busy lives."

Brenda propped her chin up in her hand, eyes fixed on Sharon. "How many have you got?"

"Two. Emily is twenty-three. She lives in New York. She's a dancer. Ballet. She tours a lot." Sharon smiled. It was the smile of a proud mother. "And Ricky lives in San Francisco. He's into computer systems, works for a company near the Bay." She followed the shape of her wineglass with her index finger. "They're good kids. They've turned out well, despite the circumstances."

Brenda's ears pricked up. "Circumstances?" She wasn't sure if she was going to like what she was about to hear.

"Their father pretty much abandoned us. Emily was eighteen months old. He hasn't had much to do with them growing up and most of it was down to me."

Brenda suddenly saw Sharon Raydor in a completely different light. She had been a single mom. A woman who had to work hard to get where she was. To raise two children and make a career within the LAPD was impressive. She remembered Sharon telling her that she had chosen Internal Affairs as it was the quickest way to make rank. Now she understood why this had been so important.

Brenda swallowed. "So you're divorced?"

"Legally separated. For over twenty years now." Sharon smirked. "My family's Catholic. Divorce just isn't done." She shrugged. "Though I guess by now they wouldn't care anymore. Jack's been gone a long time." Her green eyes narrowed. "You were married before, were you not?"

Brenda sighed. Sharon had found out that information when she was vetting her for Chief of Police. It wasn't something she talked about, to anyone. But Sharon had told her about her life so the least she could do was share something about her own.

"Yeah. It wasn't exactly the best decision I ever made." She remembered her Mama's comment, telling her that she and her Daddy liked to pretend that marriage never happened. Most days, Brenda did too.

"He was an asshole. Controllin'. Drank a little too much. Didn't like what I did, didn't like me goin' to work. And one day..." She fell silent. "One day I'd just had enough." She left out the part where he had hit her. No one, not even Fritz, knew that. It had happened only once but that was all it took. She'd packed her bags and left.

The waiter arrived back at their table carrying two plates. He put the salmon down in front of Brenda and the linguini in front of Sharon. "Enjoy your dinner, ladies," he smiled before disappearing.

Brenda looked down at her plate. Sharon was right. The salmon looked stunning. She took her fork and took a bite. It tasted even better than it looked. Her eyes fluttered shut. This was definitely an improvement from the Chinese takeout she had last night. The salmon melted on the tip of her tongue.

When she opened her eyes she saw Sharon look at her with a bemused smile.

"Good?" The brunette inquired.

Brenda nodded. "Amazin'." She eyed up Sharon's plate. "How's yours?"

Sharon wrapped some of the linguini around her fork and then leaned slightly across the table. "Try some."

Her heart stopped for a single moment when Brenda leaned in, her brown eyes still holding Sharon's. She parted her lips slightly and then slowly closed them around the fork, all the while maintaining eye contact. She held the fork slightly longer than necessary. It was almost…sensual.

"How's that?" Sharon managed to bring out. Somehow she struggled to breathe and her voice sounded constricted.

Brenda's brown eyes twinkled. "Delicious."

Time just seemed to get away from them. When Brenda finally checked her watch she saw it was after eleven and she and Sharon had been talking for four hours. Four hours that had felt like ten minutes. The bottle of Merlot was empty and had been replaced by a jug of water. The candle on the table had burnt down significantly, its flame now flickering in a soft, mushy pile of melted wax.

"It's getting late." Sharon had seen Brenda check her watch. "I didn't notice."

Brenda smiled. "We should've done this sooner," she commented as she stood up and put her blazer back on. "You know, like those workin' lunches you've been talkin' about. I should've taken you up on your offer."

She waited for Sharon to finish buttoning up and then they walked to the door. This time Brenda held it for Sharon and when the cool evening air touched her face, it briefly took her breath away. She was sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the older woman's arm brushing against her waist as she filed past her.

Sharon had driven them there and Brenda insisted on taking a cab home, refusing the brunette's offer to drive her home. She didn't want Fritz to see her with Sharon. It felt odd to think it but she just didn't want to. So Sharon followed Brenda to the side of the road and there they turned to look at each other. Brenda's face was lit up by the light of a streetlamp.

"Thank you, Sharon," the blonde smiled. "It's been a lovely evening."

Sharon tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and her gaze held Brenda's. "You're welcome. Maybe we can do this again some time."

"Next week?" Brenda asked and Sharon nodded. Brenda instantly felt warm inside. "But I get to pick the place."

"I'll prepare myself to be amazed."

Brenda arched an eyebrow and smiled knowingly. "You have no idea."

She flagged down a cab as it came driving down the road and the cabbie pulled up along the sidewalk. Brenda turned to Sharon and without thinking she leaned in and quickly kissed the older woman on the cheek.

"Goodnight, Sharon."

Brenda climbed into the back of the cab and turned to look over her shoulder. Sharon was watching her drive off and Brenda sighed. She leaned back in her seat and from the depths of her purse she retrieved her phone. Two missed calls. One voicemail. Four texts. All from Fritz. All of them, in one way or another, involved him asking her when she would be home.

She just sent him a message, ignoring all the ones he had sent her first. Finished work. Coming home now.

Then she scrolled through her contacts and found Sharon Raydor. She typed the message and stared down at the screen for a while.

Had a lovely time. Call me when you get home?

She hit send.

Chapter Text

The blue and red flashing lights lit up the dark night and the sky was packed with grey clouds. Crime scene taped still marked the area where the body had been found and Brenda was glad she could finally leave the scene. Getting a call at eleven o'clock at night reporting the discovery of a body in the Santa Monica Mountains wasn't exactly her idea of a fun evening out, especially not if the discovery coincided with one of Los Angeles' epic torrential rain storms.

She still had no idea how John Doe's body had ended up in the middle of nowhere and from the state of the body, they would need to rely on dental records to get an ID. All of this was complicated by the presence of Captain Sharon Raydor. In recent months Brenda had gotten used to the brunette hanging around her, following her every move, but to have the Captain scrutinize her every step already felt like being suffocated. It wasn't Raydor's fault, no matter how badly Brenda wanted to blame her. Pope had decided she would continue to audit Major Crimes now that the federal lawsuit hung over their heads.

Brenda ducked under the crime scene tape, her clothes soaking wet and her curls clinging to her face, and walked towards her Crown Vic. She was about to open the driver's side door, eager to get out of the rain, when she heard a familiar voice behind her.

"Chief Johnson?"

She turned around, even though she didn't need to know. She knew that voice perfectly. She heard it even in her dreams. Rather graphic dreams, usually involving the brunette woman wearing a lot less clothes than she was right now.

"Capt'n Raydor." Brenda smiled. It was genuine. Her stomach did an unexpected flip. "I was just about to head back. What can I do for you?"

"I drove out here with Flynn and Provenza but I would rather make it back in one piece tonight so I was wondering if maybe you could give me a lift? I would really like to get out of the rain."

Brenda's eyes raked over the other woman's frame. Raydor had been at work when the call came in so unlike Brenda she still wore office clothes. Her expensive Armani suit looked like it had been painted onto her slender frame now that it was wet and Brenda had to force herself not to stare at the impressive swell of Sharon's breasts in the pink shirt she wore underneath the blazer. Drops of water trickled down Sharon's face.

Brenda wore jeans and hiking boots, something she was grateful for considering the location of the crime scene and the weather. She'd learnt from previous experiences out here.

"Of course," she politely smiled and gestured toward the car. "Get in."

Sharon smiled too. "Thank you."

She got into the driver's side of the car and attempted to smooth out her wet clothes, to no avail. She peeled off the blazer and dropped it at her feet. Brenda got behind the wheel and turned the key. She tried not to look at Sharon but she had not missed how the light pink shirt had become somewhat see-through, providing her with a view of the brunette's lacy white bra. The engine roared to life and the car's headlights lit up the scene in front of them. The heater kicked in, a change from the air conditioning, and Sharon moaned softly when warm air hit her wet face.

Brenda felt a whole different kind of wetness just at the sound of Sharon's moan.

"Drive safely," Sharon said when Brenda, after shaking her head and mentally reprimanding herself, put the car in reverse and the tyres spun in the mud. "It's not the easiest road back down, especially in these conditions."

Brenda remembered the bends and turns it took for her to get up here. No streetlights, no other cars, and a whole lot of rain. All she'd had to go on were the blue and red flashing lights in the distance. If it hadn't been for the enthusiastic stargazer who had come out here with his telescope just before the downpour started, their victim could have lain undiscovered for weeks.

She finally got the car going and checked her mirrors before driving off. Her palms felt sweaty and she swallowed hard. She shot a sideways glance at Sharon. The woman leaned back in her chair, gaze fixed on something outside the window. Her dark hair fell in thin sleets down her shoulders, her shirt clinging to the curve of her breasts.

"You know that I'm not here because I want to be here, don't you? I don't like following you around anymore than you do."

Sharon said it so unexpectedly that it caught Brenda by surprise. She was now looking at the younger woman and Brenda's cheeks flushed pink, aware that she'd been caught staring.

"I know." It was all she could manage.

Sharon Raydor smiled and hummed softly. She then averted her gaze and looked at the darkness outside. Now that they had left the crime scene behind them, there were no lights other than the beam from the headlines. The mountains were one of the few places where the business of Los Angeles had not yet overtaken nature.

They drove in silence for a while, the only sound the heavy rain as it hammered on the windscreen. Brenda's hands were firmly on the wheel as she did her best to navigate the windy roads. There was gravel and other debris around and every so often one of the wheels would hit something and the car would swerve. None of it was helped by the weather conditions. She was about to take yet another bend when suddenly a loud scraping noise filled the car. She lost control of the wheel but desperately tried to correct it. She wasn't strong enough. The car was spinning and the wheels had locked. The scraping noise, like something was stuck, became louder, and she could smell burnt rubber.

The next thing she felt was the car tipping over. Her head hit the window and her hands slipped off the wheel. She caught a glimpse of Sharon and then everything went black.

*

She woke to pain.

Brenda moved her head. Good, it was still working. Next she lifted up her arms and found that they responded too. The ache was in her bones and her muscles and her head. She rubbed her eyes and felt the warm, sticky blood coat her fingers.

"Chief?"

Her head snapped up. "Capt'n?"

"Are you OK?" Sharon sounded groggy.

"Yeah, I think so," Brenda answered. The other woman came into view now that she focused.

Sharon looked unhurt, aside from the gash on her cheek. She'd managed to unbuckle her seat belt and was leaning over toward Brenda. "I've been calling you but you didn't answer," she said. She sounded worried.

"Must've got knocked out." Brenda frowned. Her head hurt. Her leg did too. "What happened?"

"The car spun out of control. We must've hit something on the road. I think we fell over the edge. Flipped over a couple of times."

Sharon sounded remarkably calm for someone who had just been in a car accident.

The brunette leaned across and with a 'pop,' she released Brenda's seat belt. Then suddenly her hands were on Brenda's face. Brenda could make out the shape of the older woman's face, saw those intense green eyes. Sharon scrutinized Brenda's face. "Can you move?" she asked softly, her fingers stroking the Chief's cheek.

"Yes," Brenda breathed. "Yes, I think so."

"OK. We should probably try and get out of this car. I can smell gas and if this thing is going to blow up, I'd rather not be inside it."

Sharon managed to open her own door and scrambled out of the car. The surface under her hands was soft and soggy. Wet grass and mud. She felt pieces of rock and wood and shards of glass from the shattered windscreen. She looked around. The rain continued to pour. There was only darkness. The road was about thirty feet above them. Unless someone looked down, no one would see the wreckage.

"Captain?" She heard Brenda's voice followed by a banging noise. "Sharon?" The panic became evident in Brenda's voice. "My door's jammed."

Sharon sprinted around the car. Brenda's door was indeed jammed. Heavily dented, the lock was probably broken. The window however was still intact.

"Can you get out on the other side?" Sharon asked. The smell of gasoline was stronger outside the car. It was leaking.

"No," Brenda groaned. "My leg... I don't know..."

"OK, stay calm," Sharon instructed. She spotted the big rock a few inches from the car. "Duck and cover your head!"

Brenda did as Sharon told her and covered her face with her hands. Sharon took the rock and rammed it against the glass. Already weakened, it splintered upon impact, raining down on Brenda. The blonde lifted up her head and saw Sharon looking at her.

"You have to climb out," Sharon said. "Give me your hand, I'll help you."

Brenda extended her arm and Sharon took it. She braced herself as Brenda managed to get on her knees, wincing in pain as her injured leg protested against being moved. She pushed herself through the car's broken window, cutting her arm on one of the remaining shards of glass, and Sharon was right there to help her. She caught the blonde Chief in her arms, blood trickling into her clothes, and together they slumped down to the ground, panting heavily. The rain still violently lashed down on them, drenching them in mere seconds. Out in the open, the ground around them sodden, and the rain relentless, a cold shiver crept down Sharon's spine.

"You're OK," Sharon whispered when she felt Brenda shaking. "I've got you." Her fingers threaded through thick blonde curls and she absentmindedly kissed Brenda's head as she pulled the younger woman tighter in her arms. "I've got you."

"We need help," Brenda groaned.

"Do you have your cell?"

"In my bag."

Sharon looked back at the car.

"Do you have yours?"

"It shattered on impact. It's useless," Sharon answered. She'd checked it immediately after the crash but the phone was damaged beyond repair.

Slowly Sharon pushed herself up and slipped one arm out from under Brenda. The blonde protested instantly.

"Don't go," she whispered. "Sharon... Please..."

"We need that phone," Sharon answered softly. "I promise I'll be right back." She placed another kiss on Brenda's head. "I promise."

She scrambled to her feet and staggered back to the wreckage. She peered through the shattered window on the driver's side and in the dark foot well she saw Brenda's large tote. Sharon rose to the tips of her toes and leaned into the car. She managed to grab hold of the bag and yanked it out of its hiding place. Clutching it to her chest she stumbled back to Brenda and fell back down in the mud beside her.

Brenda looked at Sharon. Blood still trickled down the side of her face and Sharon moved closer. She wiped some of the blood away and green eyes searched Brenda's face.

"Brenda, are you OK?" she asked.

"I'm fine," Brenda stammered. "But I'm glad you're here, Sharon."

Sharon cupped Brenda's cheek and smiled. "I wouldn't be anywhere else."

She severed the eye contact and looked down to rummage through Brenda's purse. She found the blonde's cell phone tucked away behind some sweets wrappers and unlocked it. Something inside of her ached when she saw that Brenda's background picture was an image of her and Fritz. Sharon bit past the pain and found Provenza in Brenda's recent calls. She pressed 'dial' and held the phone to her ear. Only then did she notice her hands were shaking. She was cold. Mud clung to her fingers.

She gasped softly when Brenda moved closer until she could rest her head in Sharon's lap and Brenda draped an arm over the brunette's thigh. Sharon cradled the blonde woman's head, stroking her head, ghosting her fingers over Brenda's cheek.

"Chief?"

Sharon sighed in relief when she heard Provenza's voice.

"Lieutenant."

"Captain?" He sounded shocked. She imagined him checking his caller ID. "What is..."

"There's been an accident. The Chief's injured. Follow the road from the crime scene about a mile and a half down. You should see some skid marks on the road. The car went over."

Sharon winced when Provenza bellowed something to the people around him. She heard voices and sound and then Provenza confirmed they were on their way. She ended the call and looked back down at Brenda.

"Stay with me?" Brenda asked softly.

"I'm not going anywhere," Sharon promised.

"Tonight, I mean," Brenda whispered. "At the hospital." Her voice trembled. Some of it was shock, some of it was the cold. "I... I don't want Fritz. I... I want..."

"Sssh," Sharon soothed. "It's OK, Brenda." And then she smiled. Brenda somehow seemed to notice and turned her head so she could look up at her.

"What?"

Sharon just softly pressed her lips against Brenda's forehead and pulled her a little closer. The rain had finally stopped. She pulled away and met Brenda's deep brown eyes.

"The next time I tell you to drive safely, honey, I mean it."

Chapter Text

The case was closed. Gabriel had been cleared of any wrong doing and Eric Whitner would be spending a fair few years in jail. And, the best part of all of this was, Brenda thought, she wouldn't have to deal with Captain Sharon Raydor ever again.

Or so she thought because the brunette chose that very moment to enter Brenda's office carrying a folder in her hands. She smirked when she detected Brenda's scrutinizing gaze and sensed that the Chief's defences went going up.

"I've completed the FID report into detective Gabriel," Sharon said sweetly. "You said you were looking forward to reading it so I am delivering it to you myself."

Brenda forced herself to smile. "Thank you."

She snatched the file out of the other woman's hand, acutely aware of the insane way her heart was racing in her chest. It happened whenever she was around Sharon Raydor, she noticed, and she guessed it was because the brunette got on her nerves so much. From the first moment she laid eyes on her in that hospital corridor, the older woman had managed to get under Brenda's skin.

Raydor went to turn around but then changed her mind. Instead she closed the door to Brenda's office and walked back over to the desk. She leaned on it, her hands flat against the mahogany surface. Her green eyes, void of the glasses she usually wore, fixed on Brenda.

"I think we both know that you behaved in a manner unbecoming for a Deputy Chief," she said, her voice an octave lower than normal. "And I just want to point that out that under no circumstance will I accept such petulant behaviour in the future." She straightened up. "Chief."

Brenda's jaw dropped a little. She couldn't deny that this was not what she had expected and slowly she rose up out of her chair. Raydor watched as she circled the desk, coming to a stop in front the brunette. She was well aware that her attempts to pull rank were unprofessional but Raydor was just so damn infuriating.

Brenda pursed her lips. Her brown eyes darkened when she said, "Then I suggest that in future, you stay out of my way, Capt'n."

"Is that an order?" Raydor challenged. "Because you know just as well as I do that I will have to disobey that order."

"Really?" Brenda arched an eyebrow. "And why is that?"

Something unidentifiable flickered behind Raydor's eyes and Brenda watched in awe as the older woman licked her lips.

"Because we both know that you don't really want me to stay out of your way."

Raydor just smiled and then headed for the door. Brenda flew after her and slammed her hand against the door, forcing it to remain closed just as Raydor reached for the doorknob. The older woman turned, the smile still in place, and her gaze flickered down to Brenda's lips.

Brenda felt the intense desire to just kiss that damn smirk off Raydor's face but she held back. Intense eyes searched her companion's face as her heart suddenly beat ten times faster in her chest. Her nostrils flared and she couldn't help but look at Raydor's lips. So gorgeous, so sexy...

Brenda snapped out of it. "What on Earth makes you think that?" It didn't sound anywhere near as strong as she'd hoped it would.

Raydor leaned in, her warm lips dangerously close to Brenda's ear.

"You know why, Chief." She exhaled and Brenda shivered. "And I do too."

Brenda gasped for air. She couldn't think. She felt Raydor's fingers close around her wrist. The touch was brief and faint. Through heavy lidded eyes she looked up.

Raydor was right. And they both knew it.

"Well, what do you want do?" Brenda whispered.

"I'm not going to tell you just yet," Raydor sighed against Brenda's neck, her breath lingering on the spot where Brenda's heartbeat pulsated just beneath the skin. "But there's something I want you to do."

Brenda's eyes fell shut. "What's that?"

"Trust me."

The door opened with a soft click and Brenda's eyes snapped open but Raydor was already halfway down the Murder Room. Brenda gulped two quick breaths of air, her lungs eagerly expanding, and then slammed the door shut. She leaned against it with her back and slumped down to the floor.

Well... Shit.

Chapter Text

It was almost midnight. The bed was warm and she was comfortable. The sheets had been washed earlier that day and carried the scent of fresh linen. But more than anything, Sharon loved the feeling of Brenda's body wrapped around her own.

The blonde's arm was draped across her stomach, one of Brenda's legs tangled through her own. Her lover's head rested against her chest and Sharon had been absentminded fingering a blonde curl around her finger as she used Brenda's head to support the book she'd been reading.

They didn't get many nights together like this. At least once or twice a week Sharon would be out at s crime scene, Brenda worked late whenever there was a case due in court and some nights, Tusry was home and the peace and quiet Sharon craved would be nowhere to be found. She loved the quiet nights with Brenda where they watched a movie and drank some wine before going to bed. Who would've thought a year ago that she would be sharing a bed with Brenda Leigh Johnson, calling her her girlfriend, and looking ahead to sharing a future together?

She had surely never expected to be reading Wuthering Heights to Brenda. The younger woman had reluctantly admitted she had never read it after Sharon confessed it was her favourite book. She'd taken the copy she'd owned for many years off the shelf and given it to Brenda to read, but Brenda had softly asked Sharon to read it to her.

And here they were, three chapters in, and lost in a world of their own.

Sharon looked down at Brenda's snoozing form and went to put the book down. At that moment Brenda stirred. Big brown eyes opened and looked up at Sharon.

"It's getting late," Sharon whispered softly as she brushed a stray curl out of Brenda's eyes.

"One more chapter," Brenda whispered, a faint smile dancing over her face. "Please, Sharon? I like listenin' to you."

Sharon snorted. "You're falling asleep."

"I'm not," Brenda protested and pushed herself up a little. "I was just relaxin'."

"You were snoring," Sharon chuckled but she opened the book back up and turned the page.

Brenda nuzzled back into Sharon's chest, her ear over her lover's heart, and she felt the steady rhythm as she listened to Sharon's soft, warm voice. Lying here, wrapped around Sharon, was something she had never dared to dream, but there wasn't a place on this world where she'd rather be.

Sharon planted a soft kiss on Brenda's head, took a breath and then began to read.

"While leading the way upstairs, she recommended that I should hide the candle, and not make a noise; for her master had an odd notion about the chamber she would put me in, and never let anybody lodge there willingly. I asked the reason. She did not know, she answered: she had only lived there a year or two; and they had so many queer goings on, she could not begin to be curious."

Chapter Text

Stroh was gone.

He was back out there, in the world, hiding, and waiting for a moment to strike. And she knew she wouldn't sleep for days. It would be just like it had been before. Every sound would startle her. She would check the shadows in the parking lot when she walked to her car and her gun once again lay on her nightstand when she went to bed. She would lie awake in the dark, playing scenarios over and over again in her head, until she finally drifted off into a nightmare filled sleep.

Sharon massaged her temples as she stared down at the file in front of her. It had been a day. Just one day... And already it felt like a month. Her body ached because of the lack of sleep and her head was throbbing. She struggled to focus. She was worried about Rusty and knew that even though he put on a brave face, he was scared. But he was protected. People were watching him, shadowing him. He wouldn't be alone. Stroh wouldn't be able to get to him.

The same couldn't be said for someone else.

With a heavy heart Sharon picked up the phone and pressed the number 1. It was a button she pressed often. Sharon put the receiver to her ear and closed her eyes. The phone rang. Once. Twice.

"Sharon?" a familiar voice asked.

Sharon sighed. Normally hearing that voice would bring a smile to her face but right now, she just felt like crying. "Yeah, Brenda Leigh, it's me."

Brenda noticed the tone of Sharon's voice immediately. They'd spent enough time on the phone to be able to detect even the smallest change. "Sharon, what's goin' on? You sound tired. Are you ok? Did somethin' happen?"

"He's gone."

"What? Who's gone?" Panic seeped into Brenda's voice and she went through a list of names in her head. Rusty. Ricky. Provenza. Flynn. Jack.

"What're you talkin' about?"

"Stroh. He escaped, Brenda. He's out there, in the world. He killed a judge and just... Walked out."

Silence.

Philips Stroh was Brenda's arch nemesis. They'd first crossed paths years ago during a case Brenda investigated. She exposed him for what he was but he managed to slip through her fingers several times in the years that followed. Brenda hadn't up, not even when nobody else believed her. Until the night Stroh broke into her house and attacked her and Rusty. She shot him in her own kitchen and Sharon often found herself wishing that instead of injuring him, Brenda had killed him.

"Brenda? Brenda, are you still there?"

Sharon ran a hand through her hair and glanced up. Flynn and Sykes had walked into the Murder Room and we're talking to Provenza. Flynn's face said more than a thousand words. There was still no news and with every passing hour, Stroh was getting further and further away.

"I'm here," Brenda confirmed. Her voice was flat. "So what happens now?"

Sharon didn't know. She had no idea what would happen next. They were still trying to make sense of what happened. They were watching every airport in the state of California as well as Nevada but so far no one had seen Stroh. The FBI was involved and was helping them do a nationwide search but they had found nothing. It was like he had just vanished.

"I just can't stop thinking that he'll come looking for you. He knows you're not in LA anymore and he without doubt knows you and Fritz are divorced."

Sharon sighed. A lot had happened since Stroh has gone to prison. Things that he would use to his advantage if he ever found out. It had been easy to withhold the information while he'd been locked up but now that he was out, he could easily find out.

"He knows you're in Washington alone. He knows there's no one else out there with you."

"You think he'll come here?" Brenda asked.

"I have to think that he will, Brenda Leigh. Maybe not immediately but eventually, yes." Sharon swallowed. The mere thought was enough to terrify her. "If he knew..."

"But he doesn't know," Brenda soothed. She was a lot calmer than Sharon. "He doesn't know, Sharon. And that means I'm safe. And you're safe. He doesn't know about us so he can't use it against us."

"I want you to come home."

Brenda smiled on the other side of the line. Sharon's plea was one she had heard before. "You know I can't just leave, Sharon. Don't worry about me. I'm goin' to be fine."

"Just two more months," Sharon whispered. She'd been counting down for weeks. "It can't go fast enough."

"Before you know it, I'll be home."

"I can't wait." Sharon smiled a little.

"It'll be here before you know it," Brenda promised. "Sharon, you know it's goin' to be ok, don't you? It's all goin' to be ok."

Sharon looked back into the Murder Room. Stroh's picture had been stuck in the centre of the Murder Board. That smug smile stared back at her almost as if in defiance. The sight of him made her feel sick.

"I hope you're right," she answered. "I really hope you're right."

Chapter Text

She stared at the reflection in the mirror. Some days she still had trouble believing she was actually looking at herself. Her body had changed so much that sometimes it felt like it was no longer hers. She had curves in places where she had never had them before. Her breasts had gone up a size. Her hair was thicker than it had ever been before and her skin has never been this clear. But what had changed most of all was the way her belly had grown.

It was no longer flat but swollen with life. Inside her belly she could feel their son move. She guessed it was a foot that was poking into her ribs and she caressed the spot softly, getting several more kicks in return.

"Hey, be careful in there," she said softly. "You're going to give your Mama some serious heartburn if you keep that up."

Brenda looked back up into the mirror, her hands now flat on her bump. She was eight and a half months pregnant and in a couple of weeks, she and Sharon would welcome their son into the world. She'd never thought she'd feel this way but she would miss being pregnant. She would miss feeling their son's fluttering movements, even though these days they felt more like punches. She would miss the limbs poking into her at all hours of the day. She would however not miss the heartburn and the back pain in the same way she didn't miss the morning sickness she'd struggled with. But she'd grown so used to her pregnant body, it was hard to imagine it changing again.

"Are you ready?"

Brenda turned to find Sharon leaning against the door frame, wearing her favorite jeans and a light blue button down shirt. The brunette was smiling. They had an OB appointment to go to. It would be their last one.

"Yeah," Brenda absentmindedly answered.

Sharon crossed the room and wrapped her arms around Brenda from behind. She rested her hands on her lover's swollen stomach and felt their child move. It made her feel warm inside.

"Pregnancy suits you," she whispered in Brenda's ear before kissing her neck. Brenda leaned back into her touch. "It looks good on you."

"I can't wait to meet him but at the same time I don't want this to end just yet," Brenda sighed.

Sharon drew circles over Brenda's stomach. "I know. I'll miss it too." She placed another kiss in Brenda's neck. "I love seeing you like this."

Their eyes met in the mirror and they looked at each other. Brenda knew she would forever remember this image; Sharon standing behind her, her hands on her swollen belly. Their lives were about to change and she couldn't wait.

"We should go," Brenda said and covered Sharon's hands with her own. "We don't wanna be late."

Chapter Text

This day could not get any worse. She'd been yelled at by Will, there were two bodies in the morgue and she was looking for a killer who had somehow vanished into thin air. To top it off, there were four text messages, five missed calls - or more like, ignored calls because she had simply refused to answer- and two voicemails from Fritz.

Brenda put her head in her hands and groaned when her phone began to vibrate again. Scratch that. Six missed calls from Fritz.

They'd argued that morning. And last night. And the night before that. Frankly, she couldn't remember a day in the last month or so where they hadn't argued. When had he become some an uptight, controlling asshole? The phone stopped vibrating. The screen returned to its original background of the picture of her Mama and Daddy. Then it vibrated again in a quick staccato motion.

Three voicemails.

The door to her office opened without the person at the other side knocking. Brenda's head whipped up, ready to scold whoever dared to walk in without announcing themselves but her features softened when she saw Sharon Raydor appear and she sighed in relief.

"Oh, thank God."

Sharon's green eyes twinkled behind her glasses. She was well aware of what kind of a day Brenda was having. Good news travelled fast. Bad news travelled faster. And half the building been able to hear the way Pope had blown up in Brenda's face because she had not completed her division's budget yet. Since then, anyone who didn't have any business being near either Major Crimes or Pope, stayed far away. Judging from the empty Murder Room, this included Brenda's own squad.

"Is everything ok?"

Brenda smiled. "It is now."

Sharon watched the blonde Chief and then smiled too. She slowly circled around the desk and then leaned against it. Green eyes found brown and she pursed her lips. "Close your eyes and hold out your hands," she said softly, her breath warm against Brenda's face. She couldn't resist leaning in closely.

"What?" Brenda blinked in surprise. Her skin tingled where Sharon's breath touched it.

"Just do it," Sharon soothed.

Brenda did what the brunette asked. She closed her eyes slowly and relished just in feeling Sharon's presence, in smelling her perfume, in just knowing she was here. She relaxed and she sunk a little deeper into her leather chair. Then slowly she opened up her hands and rested them in her lap. She strained her hearing for any sign or clue about what Sharon was doing but she heard nothing.

Then something was placed in her hands and she felt soft, warm lips against her cheek.

"Open your eyes, Brenda," Sharon whispered before pulling away.

Brenda opened her eyes slowly and found Sharon's face still close to her own. She wanted to kiss her. Right here, right now. She wanted to kiss her the way she had kissed her goodnight last night. The way they always kissed when they were together.

She slowly followed Sharon's gaze down into her lap and found the Hershey's Kiss, just that single one, wrapped in the soft golden foil, in the palm of her hand. Sharon had known just what to bring her, in more ways than one.

"Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you, Sharon."

Sharon pushed herself off of Brenda's desk and started for the door. She turned just before leaving and arched a knowing eyebrow. "You can thank me later," she purred.

Brenda promised herself she would.

Chapter Text

Brenda closed the door to the condo behind her and kicked off her shoes. One landed underneath the little table where Sharon kept her keys, the other skidded down the hall and ended a few inches away from the bathroom door. For a second she considered picking it up but then decided against it. It could wait until she went to bed.

"Bren? Is that you?"

"No, it's the Easter Bunny," Brenda answered as she walked into Sharon's living room. "Of course it's me, silly. Who else walks in here and kicks off their shoes?"

She fell down next to Sharon on the couch and leaned in. She pressed her lips against Sharon's cheek and ran her fingers through her lover's thick, brown locks. This was what she loved coming home to every night. This was the place she called home, the place where she felt safe and secure and protected. Sharon hummed softly under the ministration and rested her head against Brenda's shoulder. Moments like these were rare because they both worked long and crazy hours and they tried to find the time to be together whenever they could.

"Good day at the office?" Sharon asked, the smile on her face carrying on in the tone of her voice. Her lips ghosted over the side of Brenda's head.

"Alright, I suppose. Three meetings, one mug of spilled coffee that ruined a file I've been workin' for a week and the vending machine was broken."

"Oh poor you," Sharon grinned and shifted when Brenda moved even closer, almost lowering herself on top of the brunette. Their bodies fitted so perfectly together. Brenda was about to straddle her lover when something tucked underneath Sharon's leg caught her eye.

She snatched the shiny wrapper from underneath the older woman and held it up. "You got chocolate and didn't save me any?!" Brenda was horrified as she threw the brown Hershey's wrapper in her lover's face. "Sharon Elizabeth Raydor, how could you do such a horrible thing?!"

Sharon just smirked. Brenda's obsession with sugar was well known to anyone who was part of her life. There had been more chocolate in Sharon's condo in the six months since Brenda had moved in than there had been in all the years she'd lived here alone. Sugar, or better yet, chocolate, was an integral part of Brenda's life. She couldn't exist without it.

"Yes, I bought chocolate," Sharon answered. Her green eyes twinkled behind her glasses.

"And you ate it." Brenda pouted.

Sharon nodded, her smile widening. "But that's ok. I bought two." She watched as Brenda's eyes lit up.

"You're amazin', Sharon," Brenda said and kissed the older woman's cheek.

Sharon watched as Brenda walked to the kitchen and grinned to herself. She made a mental note to thank Andrea Hobbs in the morning. The blonde DDA had sent a text message an hour earlier with just a short message. Or perhaps it had been more of a warning. 'Vending machine broken. Save yourself.'

Brenda came walking back into the living room clutching the chocolate bar and fell back down on the couch next to Sharon. But instead of unwrapping it she put it down next to her and leaned in to Sharon.

"What? You're not eating it?" Sharon asked, arching an eyebrow. "I went out and got you chocolate and you're not gonna eat it?"

"Not yet," Brenda sighed as she nuzzled a little deeper into Sharon. The older woman was warm and soft and she smelt like home. "I'm quite happy where I am right now."

Chapter Text

BANG!

The shot hit its target.

BANG! BANG!

She fired her shots in rapid succession until her magazine was empty. One after the other. Her hold was firm yet comfortable, her index finger hooked securely around the trigger. No hesitation. Her eyes were trained on the target several feet ahead of her and she didn't blink. The shots sounded like faint pops because to the thick and somewhat uncomfortable ear protectors she was wearing.

The firing range was empty aside from her. Hardly anyone came here after four and Sharon Raydor knew it. It was why she came here at this time. She liked to practice alone, without distractions or the scrutiny of her fellow officers who were curious about how well the head of FID could hit her target.

She put down the gun and removed the empty magazine, then slammed her hand against the red button at the side of the booth and the piece of paper with the target drawn on it was whizzed towards her by a mechanical arm. Sharon pulled it free from the clip and inspected her score. Perfect hit.

"I'm impressed. I was half expectin' to see my picture on that target."

Sharon spun around at that voice and green eyes darkened. She spotted the blonde woman leaning against the wall behind her and internally groaned. Of all the people in this place, it had to be her.

"A firing range is a dangerous place to creep up on people, Chief. I could've shot you."

Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson smirked. She had her arms folded in front of her chest and studied Sharon with great intensity. Something about that gaze always made the Captain uncomfortable.

"I counted your shots before speaking to you. Your clip's empty." Brenda cocked her head, her brown eyes still fixed on the other woman. "Besides, you wouldn't want FID investigatin' you now, would you, Captain?"

"It would make a refreshing change from investigating Major Crimes."

Sharon put down the target, reassembled her gun after inserting her replacement magazine and pushed the gun back into the holster on her hip.

Brenda watched closely. From where she stood she'd had a magnificent view of the Captain's body as she fired the gun. She'd stood rigid, her spine straight and her legs slightly apart. How anyone could manage to look so poised in a tight black pencil skirt and high heels whilst handling a weapon was beyond Brenda. Sharon had ditched her blazer and wore a sleeveless white blouse. With her arms bare, Brenda had seen how the brunette's toned arm muscles had flexed and relaxed with every shot. She had shamelessly devoured the sight of the other woman, unable to deny the heat that pooled deep down low in her belly the longer she watched.

Sharon wiped her hands along her skirt then went to pick up her blazer.

"You're finished?" Brenda barely managed to hide her disappointment.

Sharon arched an eyebrow. "Why? Want me to stay? From what I've heard, you don't need anyone teaching you how to use a gun, Chief."

Brenda pushed herself away from the wall and slowly pulled her gun from her holster. She put it down on the table next to the one where Sharon's had been and turned to face the Captain.

Brenda's expression was unreadable. Her eyes were dark, so dark that Sharon couldn't even see her pupils. She hadn't missed the way Brenda seemed to be breathing a little faster. Knowing that the blonde Chief had been watching her had only added to the adrenaline rush Sharon was already experiencing. She found Brenda Leigh Johnson to be incredibly attractive, stupid accent and all, and if she didn't know any better, she would think that those feelings were mutual.

"How 'bout it, Captain?" Brenda challenged. She pursed her lips a little and smirked. "Fancy another round?"

Sharon's hand moved down to her gun. She saw Brenda watch her every move with greedy eyes. "Are you going to watch me again?" she purred when she unclipped the gun.

"You always go first," Brenda said sweetly and gestured towards the firing range. She never broke the eye contact, something Sharon was well aware off. "After you."

Sharon picked up the ear defenders and from the corner of her eye watched Brenda do the same. She made sure they were on properly before picking up her gun and taking off the safety. She took aim at the target and became increasingly aware of Brenda's eyes burning into her back. She hooked her index finger around the trigger, supported her right hand with her left and fired.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

The shots followed each other in quick succession and the room filled itself with the familiar scent of gunpowder. Sharon lowered her gun once she'd fired her last bullet and yanked the ear defenders off her head. She spun around, ready to face whatever Brenda had to say, but found the blonde woman staring at her with an almost predatory look. Sharon's heart rate quickened and she put the gun down. Without speaking she walked up to the younger woman and smirked, green eyes twinkling knowingly.

"Your turn, Chief."

Brenda swallowed hard. She couldn't even think straight let alone possess the ability to fire a gun. But she nodded anyway, took her gun and stepped into the lane next to the one where Sharon had been. Her teeth sank into her lower lip when she took aim, her finger on the trigger, and she almost jumped out of her skin when she felt Sharon's warm hand on her arm.

"It helps if you relax your shoulders a little," the brunette said although Brenda couldn't hear her through her ear defenders. Sharon pushed against her shoulder, signalling she had to relax, and as the warmth of her touch seeped into Brenda's skin, her muscles complied. Her heart thundered in her chest and she gasped when Sharon moved behind her and the brunette's hands fell down to her hips. Sharon was right. Brenda's posture was awful. But not because she didn't know how to do it properly but because she couldn't.

Brenda's fingers trembled when she lifted her gun and when she felt Sharon's fingers dig into hips, she put the weapon down, turned around and found herself trapped between the Captain's body and the metal table. Her throat felt like she'd just swallowed a handful of sand and she fought to somehow get some air into her lungs.

Sharon slowly reached up and removed Brenda's ear defenders. She was no longer wearing her own. Her fingertips ghosted over Brenda's ear, then slightly through her hair. She was so incredibly close now that Brenda could see every eyelash, every tiny freckle. She couldn't help it. Her eyes dropped down to Sharon Raydor's mouth and she betrayed herself.

"That's what you came here for, isn't it?" Sharon whispered. Her index finger stroked softly along the line of Brenda's neck. Green eyes connected with brown and Brenda felt like she was going insane.

The tension had been palpable for weeks. They could barely stand being in the same room together without going mad. Sharon had come home many nights in desperate need of a cold shower because Brenda Leigh Johnson did things to her she couldn't even begin to express. Matters were complicated by the fact that Brenda was married and that her husband had a habit of turning up unannounced. Sharon was sure he'd caught her looking at his wife once or twice in a way that was not exactly appropriate. It seemed, however, that Brenda didn't care all too much about what was inappropriate, or about her husband for that matter.

"Why, Capt'n, now why would you think that?" Brenda's smouldering eyes held Sharon's gaze, silently daring her to cross that invisible line.

Sharon brought their lips together in an unexpected searing kiss. Almost instantly Brenda's arms wound around her neck and Sharon's slipped around the blonde's waist. The Chief's slender fingers threaded the thick auburn locks and she groaned impatiently when Sharon didn't immediately grant her access inside her mouth.

Brenda tasted of coffee and chocolate and smelt of summer rain and cherry blossom. They were things that Sharon Raydor would never forget. Brenda was also a dominant kisser, something she learnt when Brenda sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and nipped at it softly. Sharon whimpered slightly but then willingly allowed Brenda to do it again and again. When she finally let Brenda's tongue slip into her mouth, she knew there was absolutely no going back from this.

She felt Brenda's hands trail down her arms. Skin against skin. She didn't resist when Brenda untucked the shirt from her skirt and those soft, warm hands caressed her stomach. She'd wondered what they'd feel like. How soft they would be. It was everything and more that she'd imagined it to be. Sharon matched the journey of Brenda's hands with her own and effortlessly slipped underneath the simple black camisole the younger woman wore and sighed in pleasure when she encountered glowing flesh.

Her hands slowly roamed higher, along the Chief's ribcage. She felt Brenda suck in a breath when her fingers encountered the underwire of her bra. Her index finger grazed over the swollen pebble hidden beneath the soft fabric and Brenda's head fell back, exposing her glorious neckline.

A door opened somewhere and they tore apart. Bewildered they scanned their surroundings and recognised the sound of footsteps. Mere moments later, the officer that manned the firing range, an old guy named Jenkins, appeared.

"Ah, Captain, I was wondering if you were finished. I'd like to wrap up for the day." He then spotted Brenda and furrowed his brow. He didn't remember her entering the firing range. "Chief Johnson. I didn't know you were down here too."

Brenda just smiled. "Just keepin' the Capt'n company." She didn't look at Sharon. "But we're done now so we'll get out of your hair."

Flustered, Sharon gathered her things and slipped her gun back in its holster. She was aware that Brenda was watching her after she holstered her own gun. The arousal was undeniable. She'd have to throw these panties away because no washing machine could save them. She turned and found Brenda waiting by the door. They left the firing range and stepped out into the dimly lit hallway. There, with the shadows around them, Sharon closed her eyes and sighed.

She waited for the rejection she knew would surely come.

"Take me home with you."

Sharon's eyes snapped open. "What?"

Brenda just looked at the older woman. "Take me home with you." Brown eyes were filled with desire and she reached for Sharon's hand. "Now."

She didn't need to say anything else. They understood. This had to happen. It was inevitable. No turning back, no questions to be asked. There was only one way this could go.

Brenda followed Sharon to her car.

Chapter Text

"Unbelievable."

"Fritzi..."

"Don't 'Fritzi' me! You've been screwing around behind my back for almost a year! You don't have the right to call me that anymore."

He was right. She knew he was right. She also knew that this was going to happen eventually. She'd just not expected it to happen like this. Not that she'd actually had a plan about telling her husband about her infidelity. Who plans for something like that? But the part where he discovered another woman's underwear in their dirty laundry wasn't the way she had expected things to come out.

He wasn't even meant to be here. He was supposed to still be in New Mexico chasing after some big old drug lord. She wasn't expecting him until tomorrow. She'd felt safe in the knowledge that she had time to erase all traces of her affair before he came home. She'd changed the bedsheets and washed them. She'd showered, had rinsed the scent of deceit off her skin. But she hadn't gotten around to doing the laundry yet and that's how he found out. He just saw the discarded pair of white lace panties on top of a black pencil skirt. Neither of the items belonged to Brenda.

He added the pieces together quickly. The clean bedsheets. The fact her hair was wet and the two washed up wineglasses and dinner plates on the sides, the remnants of Chinese take-out in the trash. He'd bluntly asked her the question when he walked into the living room and threw the panties and skirt in her lap.

"Are you sleeping with Sharon Raydor?"

She'd been too stunned to lie. She'd been unprepared. So she'd just said yes.

"How long?"

Still she couldn't lie. "Eleven months."

And that was what had brought them here, to this moment. The moment where life as she had known it was slowly falling apart. Or maybe it had been falling apart for some time and she'd just refused to see it. Maybe this was the moment where she would finally find the clarity to see what had been happening all along but all she saw was the face of a man whose heart she'd broken, whose trust she'd betrayed.

"Did you sleep with her here? In our house?" Fritz stared at her with an expression of disgust. "Did you sleep with her in our bed?"

"Fritzi, I... I never meant for that to happen!"

"What? And you didn't mean for the past eleven months to happen either? My God, Brenda! What were you thinking?! What have you done?"

It wasn't exactly a lie. She hadn't meant for it to happen. No one ever did, right? No one actually set out to actively cheat on their spouse, right? But she and Sharon... The attraction had been almost feral and Brenda just kept coming back.

First it was just about the sex. Whenever, wherever. She kept telling herself it was just sex. But then it became something else. Something changed when one night Sharon quietly asked her to stay just as she was about to slip from under the sheets of the bed in their hotel room, the one charged to Sharon's credit card so that Fritz wouldn't find out. And Brenda had crawled back into bed willingly and had fallen asleep in Sharon's arms. She'd slept better than she had in months.

Then came the dinners. They went to the movies and for walks along the beach. Whenever Fritz was away, Sharon would come over to the house and Brenda grew used to seeing her walk around in nothing but her underwear or her worn out jeans and one of Brenda's oversized LAPD shirts or her expensive suits. She got used to sharing the sofa and the bed and everything else and in those moments they would forget, at least for a little while, that Brenda shared this house with someone else. Whenever Sharon left and they silently moved back into their other lives and Fritz came home, Brenda would feel sad.

It was no longer about sex. It had become about love.

She loved Sharon.

"Do you love her?"

She looked up to meet his eyes. She saw the hurt and the pain. She could see the damage she had done, what she'd broken.

There was nowhere left to hide. The damage was done. She knew she had to be cruel to be kind. He deserved to know. She owed him that much. And she owed Sharon that much too.

Her answer was quiet. "Yes," she whispered. "I love her."

He turned around and stormed out of the living room. She jumped up, Sharon's clothes falling to the floor, and she sprinted after him. She caught up with him in the bedroom and found him shoving clothes in one of the suitcases they kept under the bed. He'd already emptied half her coat hangers and she watched as one by one her clothes were thrown into a messy pile inside the case.

"Get your stuff together," Fritz snapped when he became aware of Brenda standing in the doorway watching him. "I want you out of this house. Tonight."

He abandoned the suitcase and pushed past her. Brenda considered following him but she knew there was nothing she could say or do that would change what had happened here tonight. With a heavy heart she began picking up the items of clothing that had fallen on the floor and put them on top the items already in the case.

Fifteen minutes later she was finished. Her shelves were empty. So were her drawers. This was where she had ended up; with a suitcase full of clothes and nowhere left to turn.

Brenda carried the suitcase out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. She heard the TV and saw fritz sitting on the couch. He wasn't looking at her, his gaze stoically fixed on the TV instead. She wondered if she should say something but what really could she say?

She reached for the door. Best to say nothing at all.

"Brenda?"

She turned slightly. "Yes?"

"Leave the key on the table."

*

The door opened and Sharon saw Brenda standing on her porch. Her face was illuminated by the yellow porch light and she could see the red tracks of tears on her cheeks. Then her gaze fell on the suitcase at Brenda's feet and inside her something broke.

"Sharon..." Brenda's bottom lip trembled.

"Oh Brenda, honey," Sharon whispered and stepped aside to let the blonde woman in. As soon as end stepped over the threshold, Brenda threw herself in Sharon's arms and Sharon just held her.

"I don't know what to do," Brenda sobbed.

Sharon kissed Brenda's curls and as she closed the door, she whispered, "We'll figure it out."

Chapter Text

When it rained in Los Angeles, it poured. The skies were packed with thick, grey clouds and thunder rumbled ominously, a flash of lightning cutting through the grey every few minutes. People had fled into their homes to seek shelter and the streets were nowhere near as busy as usual.

Brenda eyes to the heavy rain from behind the window in the bar where she had sought refuge an hour ago, just before the downpour started. She wasn't looking forward to having to go out into that. Her attention was drawn back to her companion and she noticed Sharon Raydor also looking out of the window. The bottle of wine they'd shared over the discussion of how to proceed with the audit of Major Crimes was empty. Sharon's glass was half full still but Brenda's was not. She'd meant to go home half an hour ago but got drawn back into talking to Sharon (the way she always was) and lost track of time.

"I'll walk you out," Sharon said when she saw Brenda's gaze drift back to the window.

"Are you mad?!"

Sharon smirked. "Just polite."

Brenda shrugged but smiled anyway. "Suit yourself, Capt'n."

She put her pink blazer back on, smoothed out some invisible creases and waited for Sharon to finish buttoning up her own blazer. Together they started for the door and when she opened it, Brenda stopped in her tracks. The sound of the pouring rain was overwhelming. The streets had begun to flood; the drains weren't coping with the massive influx of water. She shot a sideways glance to Sharon. The older woman's nose had wrinkled up and she looked at the rain is dismay.

"This is where you wish you parked the car in front of the building instead of half a block away," Brenda said. "I guess we are just going to have to brave it."

They shared a final look and then they stepped out of the safety of the door and into the rain. Brenda flinched when it water pounded down on her and she barely had time to catch her breath before she was soaked completely soaked. Her thick curls turned into thin stringy sleets that clung to her forehead and her clothes now looked like they were painted on her body. She turned to look at Sharon and was left breathless by the sight of the dark haired woman.

Sharon had removed her glasses and pushed back her hair. Her face looked so much softer and Brenda momentarily got lost in the depths of Sharon's green eyes. Then she felt the brunette's hand on her arm and they instinctively moved closer together in an attempt to shield themselves from Mother Nature's violence.

Brenda wanted to wrap her arms around Sharon. She wanted to hold her, touch her, and feel her. She figured out her attraction to the brunette some time ago but it was as if the rain washed away her barrier. So when she felt Sharon's hand slip into hers, presumably to stay close together, Brenda squeezed.

Sharon stopped walking, turned to look at Brenda instead. Her gaze dropped to Brenda's lips and the blonde moved closer, their bodies now maybe only a couple of inches apart. This had been a long time coming.

"You are beautiful," Brenda whispered as she let her index finger follow the lines of Sharon's jaw. She moved closer. Slowly, to give Sharon a chance to say no, to walk away. But she watched as those green eyes dropped down to her lips and her heart rate quickened. Softly she let her thumb ghost over Sharon's lower lip and shivered when the older woman kissed it softly.

"Can I kiss you?"

The question came out as a whisper.

Sharon answered by leaning in and pressing her lips softly against Brenda's. Brenda felt like something had fallen into place when she slowly slipped her arms around Sharon's neck. Her eyes fluttered shut when she felt Sharon's tongue dance around her own and in her chest, her heart settled in a soft and content beat.

Sharon tasted like rain and it was perfect.

Chapter Text

Sharon watched as Brenda leaned casually back in her chair. This whole Christmas dinner thing in the middle of the Murder Room, whipped up by Willie Rae in an attempt to save Christmas, was a little odd but enjoyable all the same.

Brenda's parents were rather... unique... and it didn't take a genius to see where the blonde Chief had gotten some of her traits from. But Willie Rae had told Sharon some stories about Brenda when she was younger that had changed her view, or perhaps just added an extra dimension to, the image she had of the Southern belle. The stories Willie Rae shared painted an image of a somewhat lonely child, unable to make friends because she was always moving from army base to army base. Clever, perhaps too clever for her own good, and stubborn like her Daddy but with the kindness of her mother's heart. Sharon had struggled not to imagine Brenda Leigh, as Willie Rae kept calling her, stepping into yet another new classroom, clutching her bag, wondering if this time maybe she could make a friend. In a way, it was no wonder the CIA recruited her when they did. A young woman at Georgetown, alone, who never had anything steady in her life. The CIA had to have felt like a lifeline.

Sharon's eyes rested on Brenda. She seemed relaxed, perhaps the most relaxed Sharon had ever seen her. Sure, this whole investigation had meant that Sharon couldn't be with her kids in Park City and she would have to deal with their disappointment at a later time, but Willie Rae's generosity also meant that Sharon wasn't spending Christmas alone.

Her eyes suddenly found Brenda's and Sharon's cheeks flushed red. She knew she'd been caught staring. Quickly she picked up her glass and took a large gulp of whatever was in it and swallowed. When she looked back up, she found Brenda still looking at her.

They'd had their moments recently. Moments that bordered on something that was not a mutual dislike. Something she couldn't quite put her finger on. Sometimes she would look at Brenda and just wonder... What if? What if they'd come across each other earlier? What if the circumstances had been different? Would they've had a chance to be friends? Or...

Sharon looked up when she heard something she had never heard before. A sound. The sound of something precious, of something to cherish. Instantly her eyes drifted back to Brenda. She was no longer looking at Sharon but clutched her drink and had finished most of her food. Her left arm was draped casually over the back of her husband's chair.

She laughed. Brenda Leigh laughed.

And Sharon might as well have heard Angels sing.

It was warm and full of mirth and joy.

Two hours later, when there wasn't anybody else left in the Murder Room but her and Brenda because Fritz was helping Willie Rae and Clay clean up and everybody else had gone home, Sharon felt Brenda's eyes burn into her back. Slowly she turned around, green eyes instantly connecting with brown.

"Chief?" she questioned.

"Call me Brenda, please," the blonde insisted. She smiled. "Sharon."

"Brenda." Sharon said the other woman's name softly. It seemed to shift something in the air between them, leaving it thick and crackling with invisible energy.

"I'm glad you came," Brenda then confessed. "I'm sorry you didn't get to spend Christmas with your kids."

"There'll be other years," Sharon smiled. "Sometimes it can't be helped, right?"

"Right." Brenda didn't sound convinced. She moved closer to Sharon but then seemed to change her mind and began collecting the glasses from the table. "So how did you like your very first Southern Christmas dinner?"

"It was lovely. Your mother is quite the chef."

"Not a skill I inherited, I'm afraid."

"I liked your laugh." She'd said it before fully realising it and bit down on her tongue. Brenda's head whipped up, surprised, and their gazes locked.

She opened her mouth to speak but they were interrupted by Fritz's voice calling, "honey, could you bring in the glasses, please?"

With a sigh, Brenda gathered the glasses and filed past Sharon out of the Murder Room and into the break room where her parents were doing the dishes and Fritz was drying up.

When Brenda came back she found that Sharon was gone.

Chapter Text

Sharon softly closed the door to her condo. The sound of the door falling in its lock was haunting. It felt final, like it confronted her harshly with what had happened and why they were here. Slowly she looked at Brenda. The blonde stood forlorn in the hallway, her shoulders dropped and her curls obscuring her face. She hadn't stepped into the living room but seemed frozen on the spot.

Sharon swallowed. It had been a long time since Brenda had been here. It had been a long time since they'd been alone like this. Things were different now. Brenda had gone away and they'd gone their different ways. And now Fritz was dead and Brenda was grieving the loss of a man she had once loved, had called her husband, and Sharon - for the first time in her life- didn't know what to say or do to help Brenda in her pain.

What could she say? What words would even begin to describe the pain felt by a woman who had just lost the man she had loved, even if perhaps she no longer loved him now? Sharon hadn't experienced a loss like this. She and Jack were divorced but he was alive, not dead. Fritz was dead. A part of Brenda's life, the life that she had known up until this day, would be forever changed.

"Brenda?" Sharon whispered softly. She hesitated before tenderly placing a hand on Brenda's arm. It felt strange yet familiar. "Bren?"

She hadn't called her that in a very long time, she realised. It didn't feel wrong.

Brenda slowly met her gaze. Her eyes had lost their shine. They were hollow and dull and the emptiness terrified Sharon. Brenda's features were soft but her skin was almost like grey. The lines around her eyes seemed deeper somehow, like she had aged ten years in just an hour. The marks on her cheeks left behind by the tears were still red.

"I... I don't know what to do now. I... I should arrange... His funeral... I mean, where do I..." Words failed her.

"Brenda, please don't worry about that. The LAPD will arrange most of that. You don't have to do anything," Sharon reassured her.

"His sister, Claire... Does she know yet?"

Sharon made a mental note to call Andy and ask him to inform Claire. But she nodded anyway, taking away yet another one of Brenda's worries. She stepped closer to the blonde and softly ushered her towards the living room. Brenda shook her head and didn't move.

"I... I'd really like a shower. If that's ok?" she asked meekly. Soft yet empty brown eyes found Sharon's green.

"Of course," Sharon answered. "This way."

She didn't know why she said that. Brenda knew the way. But Sharon led her down the hall anyway.

She pushed open the door to her bedroom. Brenda followed her in and sank down on the bed, staring blankly at the carpet underneath her feet. Sharon opened the bottom drawer of her closet and took out a pair of black leggings and an oversized sweatshirt she'd bought once as a tacky souvenir in San Francisco. It had faded after one too many rounds in the washing machine, it's turquoise colour now so pale it probably had to be thrown away, but it was comfortable and warm and always made her feel safe. She lay the items on the bed and then walked into the en-suite and found Brenda a fluffy white towel and a fresh clean toothbrush.

"If you need anything, just shout," Sharon said after she had finished laying out all the items. She turned around in the doorway. "I'll be just down the hall."

She had to call Andy. She had to get things sorted just so that Brenda didn't have to. She had to somehow be the friend Brenda needed her to be right now, even if she didn't quite know how, even if until a mere few hours ago, they hadn't spoken in months. She couldn't let Brenda deal with this on her own.

"Thank you," Brenda whispered. Her bottom lip trembled. She seemed so lost, so utterly broken. She wasn't looking at anything in particular and seemed to lack the strength to get up, to take a few steps into the bathroom and take a shower. "Thank you, Sharon."

She was tired. So tired. Brown eyes welled up and the tears came without warning.

"Oh honey..."

Sharon rushed to Brenda's side and sat down beside her on the comforter. She slipped her arm around Brenda's shoulders and the younger woman leaned into her. Sharon's fingers threaded themselves through soft, thick curls and she wrapped Brenda up in her arms.

"Don't cry," she whispered softly before tenderly pressing her lips against Brenda's temple. "We'll work it out, I promise. It's going to be ok. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it will. And I'm going to be right here with you."

They sat in silence for a while. Neither of them moved. Sharon listened to Brenda's soft, ragged breaths, felt how her lithe body rested against her own. She knew better than to relish in that feeling but it made her feel warm nonetheless and when Brenda finally stirred and slipped out of her embrace, Sharon missed her almost instantly.

"I'm gonna go shower now," Brenda announced when she stood up.

"Ok," Sharon softly answered. "You know where I am if you need anything." She stood up too and headed for the door. She turned before leaving. There was something else she needed to say. Something she needed the blonde to know. "Brenda?"

The younger woman looked up. Her eyes were wide and still full of tears. She reminded Sharon of a deer caught in headlights.

"Yes?"

"You can stay here as long as you like and for as long as you need to." She swallowed. Her heart thundered in her chest and she felt sick. All of this was getting to her.

"If you want to, that is."

"Thank you, Sharon," Brenda whispered. She smiled. It didn't erase the sadness on her face but it brought a like back to her eyes. "I'd like that."

Sharon watched as Brenda disappeared into the bathroom and then closed the bedroom door behind her as she left. Her eyes fell shut and she leaned with her back against the door.

Everything had changed.

Chapter Text

"Brenda? Brenda, honey, are you home?"

Sharon kicked the door to her condo shut with the heel of her shoe whilst balancing two bags of groceries on her arm and dangling her keys between her fingers. She was tired and hungry and all she wanted was to sit down and leave the long day she'd had behind her. She listened for a moment, trying to identify a sound that would confirm her girlfriend was indeed home. She'd seen Brenda's car in the parking lot so she knew she had to be here.

"Brenda?" She called a little louder this time.

"In here!" Brenda called back. Her voice came from the kitchen.

Sharon kicked off her shoes, sighing in relief now that her feet were no longer trapped in the high heeled stilettos she'd picked up at four am that morning, and dropped her keys on the table in the hall. Bare foot, she carried the two grocery bags into the living room and took note of the TV being off when she walked in. When she rounded the corner and entered the kitchen, she froze in her tracks.

The lights were dimmed and the kitchen and dining area were lit by about a dozen candles. The table was set and Brenda stood next to the table, wiping her hands nervously along her shirt. She wore a white shirt, simple dark blue jeans and her reading glasses balanced on the tip of her nose. She smiled shyly when she saw Sharon.

"Hey."

"Hi," Sharon softly said. She dropped the bags on the counter. "What's all this?" Her eyes narrowed a little as she took in the sight of the dishes, the plates and the bottle of wine. "Brenda, did you cook?!"

It wasn't exactly a secret that Brenda wasn't known for culinary skills. She was able to make clam linguini and mashed potato but her skills ended there. Brenda sometimes complained that she wished she had listened to Willie Rae when she was trying to teach her how to cook. Sharon did most of the cooking in their day to day life and if she didn't, they went out for food or ordered take-out. Sharon couldn't remember the last time Brenda had used the kitchen for anything other than making coffee.

The blonde woman shrugged and her cheeks flushed pink when she saw Sharon's astonished expression. "Yeah," she admitted. She then pointed at one of the dishes on the stove. "And I did it without burning the house down." She smiled. "I made this for you."

"For me?" Sharon asked. "But why... I said I would go to the store after work..."

"You got up at four am this morning and you probably didn't have any lunch..." Brenda knew all too well what it was like to be called out to a crime scene before sunrise. Getting up in the dark was never a good thing. The day would just fly by, fuelled by too much coffee and two handfuls of pretzels Provenza got from the fending machine. The need for real food would be somewhere at the bottom of a very long list of things to be achieved that day.

"I... I just wanted to do something nice for you."

Sharon felt her heart swell with pride. Brenda had her faults, and being selfish and egocentric were just two of them, but every so often she surprised Sharon with an act of genuine kindness and generosity that only reaffirmed that she'd made the right choice four years ago by asking Brenda out to dinner the week she signed her divorce papers.

"It looks and smells amazing," the older woman said. In the soft candle light Brenda's features seemed softer somehow, less defined by age and time. Sharon thought she looked beautiful. "I can't wait to taste it."

She sighed as she turned to look at her girlfriend and saw that Brenda had opened up her arms. Sharon stepped into her lover's embrace and felt her body wrap itself around Brenda's, eagerly soaking up its warmth.

"I love you," Sharon whispered into Brenda ear. She felt a warm shiver down her spine when Brenda's lips tickled the side of her neck before whispering,

"I love you too."

Chapter Text

Cold.

It was all she felt.

So cold.

Voices faded in and out. Lights danced before her eyes. Red. Blue. There were faces, close to her own. She saw their shapes but they were blurred. Black holes were eyes should be. Voices that sounded like they came from another planet, calling her name.

She felt nothing.

*

"10-13! 10-13! "Officer down! Officer down!"

"Oh God. We have to stop the bleeding!"

"Amy, use your jacket! Press it against the wound!"

"Lieutenant, it's not going to be enough."

"I know but this is all we have until the ambulance gets here. Where the hell are those paramedics?"

"Tao, look after Flynn! He's gonna pass out!"

"I've got him!"

"How is she doing?"

"I don't know, Lieutenant. She's looking at me but it's like she doesn't see me. Captain? Captain, can you hear me? Hold on, ok? It's gonna be ok. You're gonna be ok."

She felt nothing.

*

To see the doors of the ambulance close and seeing it drive off into the night with flashing lights and sirens wailing was a haunting sight. He watched the tail lights fade into the dark, a heavy, cold feeling settling in his chest. It was out of their hands now and in the hands of fate. There was nothing else they could do from here on out and that realisation made him feel helpless.

"Lieutenant?"

He turned at the sound of Amy Sykes' voice. She stood behind him, her face a mask of confusion and fear. Then he saw the blood smeared across her yellow shirt and on her hands. There was a smudge on her face too. She was shaking. Trembling. Her eyes were glassy, like she was looking right through him.

"Sit down," he urged softly and helped her down to the sidewalk. He sat down next to her on the stoop and took her shaking hands into his. Only then did he see the blood that coated his own hands. He resisted trying to wipe them on his pants, focusing on Sykes instead.

"You did good," he reassured her. Sykes stared blankly into space, not acknowledging him. "Amy, you did good. You kept her alive. She's got a chance because of you."

"I just hope it was enough."

It had all happened so fast. In just a single second everything had just gone to hell. The gunshot had echoed through the night, alarming everyone present at the crime scene. People fell to the ground and for a moment, just a single moment that lasted no longer than a heartbeat, there had been absolute silence. He lay on his stomach behind the car and turned his head to the left, his heart thundering in his chest and adrenaline pulsing through his veins.

And that's when he saw her.

It was the most terrifying sight he had ever seen.

She lay next to her car, the door to the driver's side still open, the keys still in her hand. She had only just pulled up, having received the roll out call last. She lay on her back, her head turned to the side. He saw her eyes. He knew she saw his. She was looking at him. Her mouth was open but she made no sound. And he saw the blood as it poured from her chest and began to pool on the tarmac. Dark, deep red blood. So much blood.

Then someone sprinted past him. There was a scream and then more voices were yelling and by that point Julio had already wrested the gunman to the ground. He didn't stand a chance when Julio barreled into him and knocked him down. The gun was kicked from his hand with perhaps too much force because he cried in pain but Julio just yelled at him to be quiet and no one paused long enough to care. Julio cuffed the gunman and pushed him into one of the police cars. The suspect's right eye was swollen and his nose appeared broken. Four uniformed officers, each with hatred flickering behind their eyes, drove the suspect away from the crime scene.

The world somehow seemed to move ten times faster and yet slower at the same time.

Amy had fallen down to her knees beside the Captain and warm blood poured through her fingers as she desperately attempted to stop the bleeding. She'd watched as green eyes rolled back into their sockets and she desperately pleaded with the older woman to just hold on. She repeated the words over and over as she felt Sharon Raydor's heartbeat underneath her fingertips, felt how it grew fainter. Amy prayed to whoever up there was listening not to let her die.

The paramedics arrived maybe two minutes later. Two minutes that felt like two hours. They took the Captain after stabilizing her in the middle of the street. When they tore open her shirt, he'd seen the gun shot, saw the dark red blood as it gushed out of her body. Her eyes had closed and she looked pale, almost white, in the flashing red and blue lights, her suddenly frail looking body strapped to the stretcher, one EMT hooking an IV into her arm as his colleague worked hard to stabilize her heartbeat. Andy, his face as grey as the stretcher Sharon Raydor was laying on, had climbed in the back of the ambulance with her and then they drove off.

Provenza briefly closed his eyes and exhaled slowly. The events continued to replay themselves before his eyes. "What the hell happened?" he whispered into the air.

"What do we do?" Sykes questioned. She looked up, suddenly panic stricken. "Does Rusty know yet?"

Provenza looked over his shoulder. Tao was still talking to one of the FID officers. Somehow they would have to snap out of this daze. They needed to keep their heads. The Captain needed them to handle this situation. She would be doing the same for them if things were the other way around.

"Mike!" he called and the bald lieutenant turned around.

A single glance at the FID officer was enough to make the young man walk away and Tao walked over to Provenza and Sykes. Although at first glance he seemed calm, Provenza saw the way Tao's eyes darted around. Looking for danger, looking for answers, looking for anything that could help them. The yellow crime scene tape had been wrapped around the Captain's car, a striking feature in the now crowded street. SID was still busy collecting evidence and the scene was riddled with uniformed officers. Not a single stone would be left unturned.

"Mike, you and Amy go to the hospital. Check on Andy. He's only just recovered and this stress isn't gonna be good for him. He probably shouldn't have gone in the ambulance with her. Take Buzz and Sanchez with you. FID can kiss my ass." He paused as beside him Amy stood up. To hell with the rules. "And if you have any updates on the Captain, you call me! Immediately!"

Tao nodded, then cast a glance at Sykes' blood soaked shirt. The young woman herself stared at it too. Both hoped they weren't staring at the blood of a dead woman. Then Tao's gaze fixed on Provenza.

"Where are you going?"

Provenza felt slightly nauseous as he answered, "To tell the kid that his mother's been shot."

*

He had only been to Sharon Raydor's condo a handful of times, the last time being a few months ago. He parked his car in one of the visitor's spots in the parking lot underneath the building and rode the elevator to the Captain's floor. He was relieved no one else shared the elevator with him. A glance in the mirror confirmed there wasn't just blood on his hands but also on his clothes. It was common knowledge within the building that Sharon Raydor was a cop but he doubted seeing a man covered in blood was something people were used to around here. The elevator pinged when it reached its destination and the doors silently slid open.

He walked with a feeling of having lead in his shoes. No words were right when it came to delivering bad news, no matter how often he had done it. He had told parents their child had died, or a husband that his wife was dead. But they had been strangers and the grief of someone he didn't know, he could handle. But this was Rusty. He cared for the kid. Rusty had suffered enough. What words could possibly be describe the very real possibility that he could lose the only real mother he had ever known?

Provenza hesitated briefly when he reached the door but then knocked softly. He pushed his hands in his pockets, wishing he had at least tried to wash them before coming here, and waited. He felt sick and tried not to imagine Rusty's face when he saw him. He heard the lock turn at the other side of the door and then it opened.

"Lieutenant?"

He blinked. The voice did not belong to Rusty. The voice didn't even belong to a male at all. It seemed to come from someplace far away, like a memory, and he needed a moment for his eyes to find their focus. He stared at the figure in the doorway, wondering if he was somehow staring at an image from the past.

This was real. She was real.

"Lieutenant, is that blood on your clothes? Is everythin' alright?"

He only managed to stammer, "Chief?"

"Brenda," she corrected him and before he had a chance to ask anything more, the blonde woman pulled him into the condo and closed the door. She spun him around, forcing him to look at her. He couldn't deny her. No one had ever been able to. Once Brenda Leigh Johnson fixed someone with that stare, they would spill their deepest secrets.

"Lieutenant, what happened? Where's Sharon?"

He felt Brenda's piercing eyes on him and managed to gain his composure. He straightened himself up and looked around the condo. It was empty aside from the blonde standing in front of him. There was a small pile of paperwork on the table next to coffee mug. Then he looked back at Brenda.

"Is Rusty home?"

"Rusty? No, he's in class. Why? What's goin' on? Did somethin' happen to Sharon?" There was a hint of fear in Brenda's voice now.

"Call him," Provenza instructed her.

Brenda looked at him, clearly trying to fit the pieces together in her head. He didn't know why she was here but she was clearly comfortable. She must have been here for some time. He couldn't remember the Captain mentioning anything about the Chief staying here.

He swallowed. "And I think you'd better come with me, Chief." He corrected himself after a second, still confused. "Brenda."

She left with him and she called Rusty from the car as he drove. Brenda didn't ask any more questions. She knew not to when he switched on the siren on the unmarked car and cut a way through the busy afternoon traffic. Around them cars dispersed, freeing up the road ahead, and Provenza shot a quick sideways glance at the woman sitting next to him. The Chief, because no matter how often she insisted he'd call her Brenda, she would always be the Chief to him, was staring out of the car window with a look that could only be described as loss.

He knew he had just walked into something…. Something big, something difficult. Something that went beyond the fact that across town Sharon Raydor was fighting for her life.

What the hell had today turned into?

*

Hospitals were strange places. They were the only place where life and death would meet. Somewhere in this building a new life would begin just as another would end. These walls had seen both tragedy and joy and had heard more prayers than any church ever had. Here was where hope still lived. The place where people came to say hello and goodbye.

They'd picked Rusty up from campus - which had involved Provenza interrupting his Sociology lecture- and drove him to the hospital. The fact that Rusty was not surprised to see Brenda confirmed to Provenza that the boy was indeed used to seeing her. And he had fled into her arms for comfort when Provenza softly and carefully explained what had happened to Sharon, which was also the first time Brenda heard what had happened. She'd merely met Provenza's gaze. Cops knew. Ex cops knew too. They knew what wasn't being said, they knew how to read between the lines. Brenda knew that he was holding back because the very last thing anyone would want to take away from another person who had nothing left to cling to was hope.

Brenda was the last one to step into the waiting room after ushering Rusty ahead and fell into step just behind Provenza. The room was thick with tension, with unspoken emotion. She could read it on their faces. The anger, the fear, the desperation. It took her back to the moment where most of them had been sat waiting to find out how Julio's brother was doing after being shot. Oscar hadn't made it. And now they were all back here again, years later, waiting once again. Because waiting was all they could do.

It took everyone a few moments to realise she was there and whatever little conversation there had been, instantly faded out. Brenda silently lingered in the doorway, avoiding making direct eye contact with anyone.

"How is she?" Rusty asked as he sat down next to Andy.

He wore dark green hospital scrubs and Provenza noticed that Amy was too. Perhaps a nurse had taken pity on them in their bloody clothes. By now their clothes would be in evidence bags on their way to Major Crimes. Another division would be going over them. FID first. Then Robbery/Homicide probably because Major Crimes wouldn't be allowed to investigate the shooting of their own commanding officer. Taylor would be in charge of the investigation, Provenza knew that much for certain.

"She's in surgery," Andy answered. His voice was flat and his face ashen. He seemed to have aged ten years in the last hour. "She's stable but the bullet has done a lot of damage. Tore through an artery or something. The nurse said it could be at least another couple of hours before they're done."

Rusty covered his face with his hands and took a couple of deep breaths. "But she's going to be ok, right?" He looked around the room, fear flickering behind his eyes. He seemed so much younger now. Provenza was reminded that despite what he'd been through, he was only a kid. "She's going to be ok. She has to."

"She was shot in the stomach. It's going to take time for her to heal," Sanchez quietly explained and put a hand on Rusty's knee. "The bullet tore through most of her abdomen. There is a lot that needs to be fixed. It'll take time."

"Did you catch the shooter?"

The million dollar question.

"Yeah, we got that son of a bitch," Provenza said. The shadows around his eyes betrayed his anger. He'd taken the seat closest to the door and was aware of a Brenda standing next to him. It didn't look like she was going to enter the room any further. "He's in for one hell of a ride."

"Who is he?"

Provenza had never before heard this kind of anger in the kid's voice before and it was unnerving.

"We don't know," he admitted, although he suspected that by now Chief Taylor, who had offered to do the interview, had managed to extract that information. Would-be cop killers usually didn't fare too well in front of other cops.

"But we're going to find out."

There was a silence as everyone allowed the information to sink in. Momentarily they were all lost in their own thoughts and feelings. Andy's hand rested on Rusty's knee. Sanchez's arm was draped over Sykes' shoulder.

"When did you get here, Chief?" It was Tao who first acknowledged Brenda's presence and it drew the attention away from the situation they were in. Across the room, Rusty stirred but didn't speak.

Brenda looked up, clearly disturbed from her thoughts. She'd been picking at one of the buttons on her cardigan. It was grey and seemed a little too large for her frame, Provenza noticed. Like maybe it wasn't hers at all. Underneath it she wore a simple pink tank top and washed out, faded jeans. She shared a look with Rusty but he didn't answer, choosing to look at the floor instead. The exchange didn't go unnoticed by Provenza.

"A couple of days ago," was all Brenda then said. She chewed her bottom lip, no longer looking at Rusty. "I'm just travellin' through." She tried to smile but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "It's good to see ya'll, though I wish it was under better circumstances."

They were interrupted by the arrival of a nurse. She was in her late thirties and had shoulder length dark blonde hair. From behind round glasses a set of steel blue eyes looked around the waiting room. There was kindness in her eyes. Every day she saw people come into this room and wait... Some would leave still having hope. Others would leave having lost everything.

Rusty leapt to his feet. "Any news?"

"I'm afraid not, sweetheart," the nurse answered. The little badge on the pocket of her scrubs said Anne. She smiled reassuringly at Rusty, who sank back into his seat, before focusing on another person in the room. "Detective Tao?"

Tao looked up. "Yes?"

"I contacted the LAPD and requested the details of Ms Raydor's next of kin, like you suggested. They were kind enough to fax over the paperwork." Anne looked down at the clipboard in her hand. "I've tried calling the number mentioned here but it appears to be disconnected and there is no mention of what other number to call in case of an emergency. Do you know where I can find... errr..." She looked down at the paperwork. "…. Brenda Leigh Johnson?"

All eyes were on her now and Brenda felt like she was going to be sick. She slowly took a step forward, careful not to make eye contact. No, no, no. This was not happening. This was not how this was supposed to go.

"I'm Brenda," she said softly and Anne turned to look at her, clearly surprised. "But I think these details are somewhat out of date." Brenda sucked in her bottom lip and bit down until she tasted blood.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Are you saying you are no longer Ms Raydor's next of kin?"

She just wanted the nurse to stop asking questions. "What I meant to say is that perhaps Rusty should be the one to make any decisions for Sharon," Brenda clarified. She cleared her throat, aware of the looks people were giving her. She knew they were thinking things. "He is her son."

Rusty looked around the waiting room, fear etched across his face. "What?" He stammered. "Next of kin? What does that even mean? Does that mean I have to make a decision if she..." He didn't finish that sentence. His eyes were now full of tears.

"It means that you are the go to person if they need to contact anyone. And sometimes it means you have to make decisions," Andy explained slowly. He looked solemn. "Remember when Provenza tried to have me sign a DNR when I was in hospital?" He folded his hands in his lap. "If you want, kid, I'll help you."

The bond between the two had started to grow in recent weeks and Rusty seemed to have accepted the idea of having Andy around, Provenza thought. But his reaction to Brenda had been telling. He hadn't seemed in the least surprised and Brenda seemed rather comfortable at the condo. Rusty breathed a sigh of relief and, less 0bvious to those present, Brenda did too.

"Thanks, Andy."

Brenda swallowed hard and stared down at the floor. The carpet was worn out. Too many years of people pacing through this small space, dragging their feet as they waited anxiously for news about their loved ones. This room had seen devastation, had witnessed the breaking of a human heart, and it had seen the resilience and strength of those who could do nothing else but wait. The mere thought sent a shiver down her spine and just as Anne stepped further into the room to hand the paperwork to Rusty, Brenda pushed past her and stepped outside.

"Excuse me," she muttered softly before letting the door fall shut behind her.

For the first time since coming here she felt like she could breathe. The heavy feeling that had settled itself in her chest and had begun to strangle her slowly began to fade and she leaned back against the wall. Her eyes fell shut and she took a few deep breaths in an attempt to control the insane racing of her heart.

Sharon had chosen her to be her next of kin. It was Brenda's name printed down in black and white. Even after all this time, after all these years, that hadn't changed. Maybe because Sharon just hadn't gotten around to changing it. Maybe because she had not been willing to think about the 'what ifs' of life…. Or maybe she just had not been quite prepared to let it all go. But hearing it said out loud, feeling that old familiar pain, opened up something Brenda wasn't sure could be closed again.

She wiped her eyes. The tears were unexpected and one slid down her cheek. It tasted salty on her lips and she brushed it away. She let her head fall back and tried not to imagine Sharon lying on an operating table, bleeding, as doctors fought to save her life. She tried not to think of Sharon, her skin cold and pale, her eyes having lost their shine, stuck somewhere in limbo between life and death.

Brenda had seen the blood on Provenza's clothes. She knew it was Sharon's. It had chilled her to the bone. She didn't want this to be her last memory of her. She didn't want this to be the last place where she knew Sharon had been alive. This couldn't be the last place that would hear Sharon Raydor's heartbeat.

The door opened behind her and she expected to see Anne but instead she saw Provenza. Her gaze fell on the dried blood stains once again and her heart ached. He met her gaze, saw her stare, and for a moment his eyes reflected the same grief. He waited for a moment, almost as if to seek her permission, and when she didn't turn away he approached her. He leaned against the wall beside her, his eyes now fixed on something on the floor. He folded his hands in front of him, almost as if in prayer.

"I guess I don't need to ask just how far your relationship with the Captain went."

He'd had his suspicions though he'd never been able to proof anything - nor had he felt the need to- but it was as if the air was charged with electricity whenever Captain and the Chief were in the same room together. The arguments had stopped a few months after their first meeting and they had appeared to be enjoying each other's company. And the Captain had protected the Chief when no one else had. And sometimes… sometimes things just happened. He had always wondered, especially just after Sharon took over Major Crimes, just what that had been. He'd often see her looking around, half expecting to see Brenda standing behind her. He'd also seen the way she'd just sigh when she realised that Brenda was really gone.

"It was a long time ago." Brenda closed her eyes.

"Judging from the fact that it's your name on that piece of paper, maybe not that long?" Provenza carefully asked.

Brenda ran her fingers through her hair and shook her head. How had it all come to this?

"It's a mistake. My name never should have been there in the first place."

"But it is." He gave her a long look. The kind of look that could not be avoided. The look only an old friend could give. "And we both know why. Does Chief Howard know?"

Brenda shook her head and sighed. So this was where it all ended.

"No one knows."

Provenza rubbed the bridge of his nose. He had learnt a long time ago that every person carried secrets and they all had their own reasons for those secrets. He had also learnt to understand not to judge. People were complicated creatures and although most things in life seemed black and white, they very seldom were.

"How long did it last?"

He stared at a spot on the floor where the lino had worn. He wasn't sure he actually wanted to hear the answer to that question.

"Four years."

It really wasn't what he'd expected to hear, Brenda knew. It wasn't even what she herself had expected to say. A long time ago she would never have believed that one day she'd be standing in a hospital corridor confessing her affair to someone she considered a close friend, someone who meant a lot to her, simply because she couldn't stand the lying any longer. She looked down at her hands, at her wedding ring. It didn't mean anything anymore. It hadn't for some time. She shouldn't still be wearing it. Everything had changed.

Provenza looked from the corner of his eye at the woman who had once been his commanding officer. He hadn't been her biggest fan when she first arrived in Los Angeles but they had grown to respect each other. She had become his friend. He had become hers. He had seen her make some questionable decisions in the past but she was only human and it didn't change anything. And it wasn't like he was exactly in a position to judge on marriage. He wasn't exactly an expert unless it came to divorces.

"When did it end?"

Brenda took a deep breath and raised her eyes to the ceiling. "I'm not sure it ever really did."

"Chief?" It still felt so natural to call her that, even if she wasn't anymore.

"It ended when I moved to Washington," Brenda explained. There were no words that could really describe it. "At least, I think it did. We just sort of..." She thought about her choice of words. Nothing seemed to fit. There wasn't just a single word or phrase that could describe what had happened. "We fell apart, I guess."

Now one of the pieces fell into place and Provenza sighed.

"So around the same time the Captain started opening up to Flynn. I always wondered why she changed her mind."

"Don't say that. Sharon cares about Andy. He means a lot to her. I think that maybe she wasn't ready to let go until she had no choice." Brenda's eyes had darkened a little. "She didn't use to Andy to replace me. Sayin' that would be a disservice to Sharon. I don't wanna hear it, Lieutenant."

That last sentence was a warning and he knew it. You can think what you like but keep it to yourself. He carefully breached the next subject they would have to face. "Does Chief Howard know you're here?"

Brenda shook her head. "No."

"He's going to find out sooner or later, Chief." Provenza knew that Fritz Howard would be walking through those hospital doors any minute now.

"I know. Sharon and I had an agreement. Neither of us would tell Fritz I was in LA. Not until I…"

Brenda didn't finish that sentence. Not until she was ready was what she meant to say. Ready for what? To finally admit that her marriage was a disaster and it was time to file for divorce? Ready to pretend what she and Sharon had never happened and go back to her husband to pick up where they left off? Ready for what?

"So you're living with the Captain?"

Provenza had seen the way Rusty reacted to Brenda. He was clearly used to her and Brenda had said that no one knew what had happened between her and the other woman. Provenza was just trying to understand the situation. His eyes narrowed a little and Brenda didn't miss it. She knew where this was going even without him asking.

"Yes. And before you ask, Lieutenant, I'm sleepin' on the couch. Sharon and I haven't done anythin' we shouldn't have." She knew what he was thinking because she was thinking it too. Not this time, anyway. "We never told Rusty about us. I don't know how much he knows but Sharon and I… I didn't want to taint the way he sees her. She's his mother. What was he going to think if he knew she was seeing a married woman? To Rusty, I was just his mother's friend."

"You mean that in all those years…"

"We never told him the truth." Brenda sighed. "God, this is such a mess. Why did we ever think this was never going to come back to haunt us?" She chewed her lip. "After I left, we both tried to move on. I worked. A lot. Maybe too much. And I know that Sharon and Andy…" Brenda didn't finish that sentence because she wasn't actually prepared to hear herself say those words. She didn't realise until now just how much it hurt.

"From what Flynn said, things have changed a bit recently. He said something about her asking him to take a few steps back." Provenza managed to hold Brenda's gaze. He fixed her with a stare that he normally saved for suspects. "Flynn said the Captain needed some space." He paused, the question he wanted to ask hanging in the air.

"Oh, for heavens' sake, Lieutenant. Just say it!" Brenda raised her hands in the air. Frustration was etched across her face. "You want to know if Sharon asking Andy for some space has somethin' to do with me."

"Well? Does it?"

"I don't know." Brenda chewed the inside of her cheek and sighed before covering her face with her hands. "Maybe." She let her head fall back against the wall. "We've been talkin'. A lot. About the past, the future… about all the things that I've been tryin' to avoid for too long. And Sharon asked me what me comin' back to Los Angeles meant."

"Did you come back for her?"

For the first time since arriving at the hospital, Brenda was certain about something.

"Yes."

Provenza gave her one last look before slowly walking back towards the waiting room. He turned around before stepping back inside. His face was somewhat solemn.

"Then maybe your name being on that piece of paper isn't so wrong after all."

*

Five hours.

Five long hours went by before a doctor finally told them that Sharon had pulled through and the surgery had been successful.

Five long hours where Brenda felt Provenza's eyes on her but did her best to avoid him. Five hours where she sat next to Rusty, his head in her lap as he slept, and her fingers stroking his hair. She couldn't look at Andy for more than a few seconds. She felt guilty, embarrassed and ashamed. She didn't know how much he knew, if he even knew anything at all, but she knew that some pieces had fallen into place for hum the moment the nurse had called her name.

"Can I see her?" was the first thing Rusty asked when the doctor told them Sharon would make a full recovery.

When the doctor confirmed that he could, Rusty got up and started for the door. Only then did he turn around and Brenda saw how conflicted he felt, saw how he looked from Andy back to her and back to Andy. He seemed to hesitate, quietly deliberating with himself, before turning around and leaving the waiting room without asking either one of them to come with him.

*

Sharon looked pale. Her dark locks were fanned out over the crisp white pillow and the light blue colour of her gown was a soft contrast against the whiteness of the sheets. Her arms lay beside her body, an IV drip attached to her left wrist. She was hooked up to a monitor and the machine beeped softly with every heartbeat.

Brenda softly closed the door behind her and watched for a few moments before crossing the room and sinking down in one of the arm chairs next to the bed. Carefully, almost as if she was afraid to break her somehow, she touched Sharon's hand and quietly sobbed when she felt it was warm. Her fingers laced through Sharon's and she brought the older woman's hand up to her lips.

Green eyes opened.

"Hi."

Brenda smiled through her tears. "Hey." She reached across and brushed a strand of hair out of Sharon's face.

"Brenda…."

"It can wait," Brenda whispered. "You need to rest. Go back to sleep." She kissed the back of Sharon's hand. "I'll be right here when you wake up."

Sharon's eyes slowly began to close but just before she drifted off, she said, "Your ring…"

Brenda looked down at her now bare hand. "It's gone." She looked back up at Sharon. "And it ain't comin' back." Brown eyes swam with tears and she softly squeezed her hand. Holding it, feeling its warmth, was all she needed. "Sleep, Sharon. I'm not goin' anywhere."

Chapter Text

She had no idea how she ended up being roped into this... this... Thing. One moment she was talking to Will in his office, the next she was part of a sting operation in a way she had not anticipated.

She was undercover. In a bar. Wearing a dress that irritated her and heels that were way beyond what she considered comfortable. But worst of all, she was in the company of Sharon Raydor.

Brenda shot a glance at the dark haired FID captain sitting next to her at the bar. Sharon's index finger lazily followed the rim of her wineglass and she could easily be mistaken as being bored but Brenda saw how those green eyes drifted around their surroundings, taking in everything that was happening.

"You might want to look a little less like you want to kill me," Sharon whispered as she leaned in. Brenda caught a waft of her perfume. It was sweet but not overpowering. It was probably expensive. Sharon Raydor seemed like the type to own expensive perfume.

"After all, this is meant to be a date."

Brenda forced herself to smile and shifted in her seat. An undercover operation that involved her pretending to be on a date with Sharon. And all because they were looking for a killer who targeted rich, middle aged women who happened to prefer other women. After a business woman and a judge had been found murdered in their homes with their jewellery, cash and cars missing, Brenda and her division had discovered that both victims had been approached in a bar by a young woman, no older than thirty. In both cases, the woman went home with her victims at which point she, and a suspected accomplice, would overpower the victim.

So now Brenda and Sharon were sitting at the bar of an upmarket establishment, two glasses of wine between them. The bar was busy but not crowded. All the guests were female. Brenda shot a glance to the other person involved in their operation, a detective from Vice who was about Brenda's age and had been drafted in as their intended target. She had experience working undercover and frankly, Brenda was glad she didn't have to do it herself. It did however mean that she and Sharon were being used as backup and that was what had brought them to this moment.

Sharon leaned in a little and Brenda suddenly felt warm. "You see anything?"

All Brenda saw was the hint of cleavage behind Sharon's low cut silk white shirt and she felt her cheeks burning red. She took a large gulp from her wine. "Nope."

"Are you always this uncomfortable during undercover operations?" Sharon asked. Her voice was soft and she was now leaning in even further, creating the illusion that she and Brenda were having an intimate conversation.

"Only when I don't get a choice in how the sting goes down," Brenda answered through gritted teeth. She looked up at Sharon and was momentarily thrown off guard by the older woman's green eyes. She'd never seen Sharon's face so up close before and behind her glasses, her intense eyes seemed so much brighter.

Brenda shook her head in an attempt to focus herself on the task at hand. "Why did Will ask you anyway?"

"Can you think of anyone else willing to put themselves in this position?" Sharon arched an eyebrow. "Face it, Chief, no one else would be prepared to do this."

Brenda tried to think of something to say in return to that but she couldn't. As much as she hated to admit it, she knew Sharon was right. And even if she wasn't, Brenda knew there simply weren't many female detectives around trained in undercover work. She'd thought about asking Mikki Mendoza but had soon learnt that she was already running an operation and that had left her with Sharon Raydor.

"Ok," Brenda relented and finished off her glass of wine.

The bar was beginning to fill up. A group of women in their late twenties had just walked in and one was heading towards the bar. Brenda saw how the woman eyed up Sharon with an approving glance and something inside her forgot about her previous hesitations and she possessively placed her hand on the brunette's thigh before shooting a glance in the new arrival's direction.

She turned away and Brenda smirked. Message received.

Sharon looked down at Brenda's hand on her thigh. The touch had been unexpected. The blondes thumb touched the bare skin of Sharon's leg and it felt warm against her flesh. The back of her throat was suddenly dry and Sharon quickly grabbed her glass and with two large gulps she finished off her wine.

Brenda, realising she was still touching Sharon, went to pull her hand away but Sharon grabbed her wrist and green eyes found brown. For the longest of moments it was as if the world had faded into a blur and the only person in the room was Sharon. Brenda watched as the green of Sharon's eyes darkened and her pupils dilated. She saw how Sharon's red lips parted a little, the way the tip of her tongue darted out and Brenda felt heat course through her body. She recognised the arousal, the way the heat pooled in the pit of her stomach, the way her body suddenly seemed to yearn for something...

The muscles in her hand tingled when Sharon pressed her thumb against the inside of her wrist and began drawing shapes. Brenda's breath hitched. Sharon never took her eyes off Brenda, lost in the moment that had created itself between them.

She knew she'd been a fool to accept this assignment. Her rational brain had tried to tell her to turn it down but her heart had just ignored it. An evening in a bar with Brenda Leigh Johnson, the one woman who infuriated as well as aroused her as no other... What could possibly go wrong?

"Is this OK?" Sharon breathed. She leaned in closer, her lips maybe an inch from Brenda's earlobe. Her mouth hovered over Brenda's warm skin.

Brenda's mind was spinning. All she could think about was shoving Sharon up against a wall and kissing her, hard... Exactly the way she'd been fantasising about for weeks now. Some of the dreams she'd been having about the Captain would make even a seasoned sex worker blush.

"Yes," she husked. Her fingers dug harshly into the fabric of Sharon's skirt. She did not release the older woman's gaze. "Yes."

How was it possible that a single touch provoked this kind of reaction? How could Sharon possibly be setting her skin, never mind her entire body, on fire, just like that? Brenda's heart thudded rapidly in her chest and she couldn't tear her eyes away from the other woman. Without realising it, she'd started running her finger up along Sharon's thigh and it was only when she noticed Sharon taking in a sharp breath that she saw that she'd inched up Sharon's skirt and was circling the tender flesh of her inner thigh.

"Don't," Sharon purred when Brenda stopped. Her grip on Brenda's wrist loosened. Her pupils were now so big, they hid most of the green. "Don't stop."

Brenda didn't want to stop. She wanted to push her hand up Sharon's skirt and discover what lay hidden there but they couldn't... Not in the middle of a bar, not with another detective present, and certainly not with the rest of division sitting in a stake out van outside.

Brenda shivered when she felt Sharon's hand slide from her wrist down into her lap. It was as if an invisible barrier between them had been broken. Somehow they had found themselves in the same moment and discovered that the feelings they harboured were mutual.

"Chief?"

Provenza's voice crackled in her ear and Brenda blinked. The lieutenant's voice cruelly slammed her back into the real world. From the way Sharon's eyes widened she knew the brunette heard him in her ear too. The communication was one-way only. She could hear Provenza and he could talk to her but she couldn't talk back to him and he was unable to hear their conversation.

"Gabriel has just informed me that the suspect has entered the bar. Black jeans, red jacket."

Brenda's eyes drifted around the bar and she saw the woman Provenza described walk into the bar. Across the room Detective Anderson made eye contact to confirm she was aware of what was happening and then Brenda looked back at Sharon. She'd pulled her hand out of Brenda's lap and Brenda had removed her hand from Sharon's thigh.

"Show time," Brenda said softly and slipped out of her seat.

Sharon followed and sighed when she felt Brenda's fingers lace through her own as they made their way across the bar. They found a spot a little closer to Anderson. It was busier now and more people continued to walk into the bar. The music drowned out voices and Brenda only managed to catch a few random words here and there.

She took a few more steps in an attempt to get closer to Anderson but instead Brenda found herself pinned between Sharon and the wall and through heavy lidded eyes she looked up at the Captain. Sharon moved closer and Brenda shivered when she felt Sharon's hands on her hips and gasped when the brunette's slender fingers inched up her dress and began caressing the warm skin of her thighs. Brenda felt delirious with want and desire and her dark eyes were fixed on the older woman. A soft "oooh" fell from her lips when Sharon pressed her knee against Brenda's centre, the fabric of her dress inching up even higher.

"Shit," Brenda hissed when Sharon pressed a little harder and her hands flew down to Sharon's waist and yanked the older woman closer. "Captain..."

"Chief," Sharon husked, her warm hand now dangerously close to Brenda's core and she licked her lips. Her hand only stilled when she encountered the satin of Brenda's panties.

"Our target..."

Brenda tried to remain focused. They were here to work, to catch a killer. The killer who, according to Provenza, had just entered the bar.

"Relax," Sharon whispered and jerked her head towards the bar. There was a large mirror decorated with various liquor bottles that reflected most of the goings on in the bar. "I can see detective Anderson from here."

Brenda silently thanked whatever God was up there that she and Sharon were only wearing ear pieces and no wires, which meant that the people inside the van could not hear their conversation.

She sighed when Sharon slowly began to circle her fingers between her thighs, keeping firm pressure against Brenda's core. Her green eyes remained fixed on Brenda's face and the blonde slowly let her head fall back against the wall. She felt the wetness pool between her legs, recognised the desire that coiled in the pit of her stomach, and her heart rapidly pounded against her rib cage.

"Sharon..." Brenda sighed when she felt Sharon's fingers graze over her clit.

The quiet corner and the shadows hid them from view, although they weren't entirely invisible, and Brenda rationally knew that everything they were doing right now was wrong. But she couldn't stop herself, couldn't hold back anymore and she fisted Sharon's shirt when the brunette applied some more pressure, her fingers now firmly circling over Brenda's most sensitive spot. Brenda's hips bucked, she didn't have control over them, and she began rolling them backwards and forwards, desperately seeking more friction. She needed more. She needed… Sharon.

"Oh God, Sharon... Don't... Oh..."

There was no holding back anymore. The desire, the lust, was all consuming and the tingling feeling in her belly was unmistakable. The throbbing between her thighs grew stronger and Brenda let herself fell forward, burying her face in Sharon's hair. Softly she traced her lips across Sharon's neck, felt the older woman's heartbeat against the tip of her tongue. It was the final push.

"Ooooh..."

Brenda shuddered as she came and she sighed contently against Sharon's neck.

She didn't want to let go.

*

When she came home that night, she hovered in the bedroom doorway and watched her husband asleep in their bed. Slowly Brenda turned around and walked down the hall to the guest bedroom and closed the door behind her.

She was about to undress when the screen of her phone lit up with a text message.

"Call me. I need to talk to you. X Sharon."

Brenda stared at the message for a little while and then left the bedroom, found her keys and without looking back she left the house and typed in Sharon's address into her GPS. Moments later, her red tail lights faded in the dark.

Chapter Text

"Chief?"

Sharon Raydor appeared in the doorway of Brenda's office, bag hanging over her shoulder.

The blonde Chief looked up from the paperwork on her desk and behind her black rimmed reading glasses, her brown eyes focused on the woman standing a few steps away from her. Sharon Raydor was a sight for sore eyes and Brenda welcomed the distraction.

"Capt'n," she smiled. She folded her hands on top of the files and crossed her legs underneath her desk. "What can I do for you?"

Sharon's eyes narrowed a little and she took in the frazzled appearance of the Chief. Brenda's hair was tied back in a messy ponytail, a few unruly curls had broken free from their restraints and fell down the sides of her face, and her pink sweater was wrinkled. A black scuff marked the right sleeve. Sharon knew it was probably due to the fact that earlier that morning Brenda had chased a murder suspect for three blocks before arresting him.

"You forgot, didn't you?" She asked, arching an eyebrow in amusement. She wasn't surprised. When it came to Brenda, she never was.

Brenda pursed her lips and tried to remember what it was she had forgotten. Her mind came up blank. "Forgot? Forgot what?"

"Grand jury? Three o'clock? The Riley case? We're both due to give a statement, remember?" Sharon sighed. "We were supposed to meet for lunch downstairs twenty minutes ago." She held up a Styrofoam cup with the logo of the coffee shop. "I ordered you a coffee but it is cold now, sorry."

"Oh Sharon, I'm so sorry!" Brenda removed her glasses, let them fall on the paperwork and rubbed her tired eyes. "After this morning I think I just sort of got lost..."

"Yeah, I heard what happened." Sharon strode into the office and sank down in one of the two arm chairs across from Brenda's desk. The bag she'd been carrying over her shoulder was placed at her feet and she folded her hands in her lap.

"Are you ok?" Sharon sounded concerned.

"Fine. A bit sore but I'll live," Brenda replied and rubbed the back of her neck. Not not only did she chase the suspect, she had rugby tackled the guy to the ground. Her back, shoulders and neck were sore and probably would be for a few days.

"I'm gettin' too old to be chasin' suspects down the street."

Sharon smiled and watched as Brenda began gathering the papers and shoved them in her desk drawer. She would never understand how the Chief ever managed to find anything in the mess that was her desk, and her drawers, but it seemed that the chaos didn't bother Brenda. On the contrary, Sharon believed that Brenda somehow thrived in it.

"I guess it's too late for lunch?" The blonde asked and Sharon nodded. Brenda looked down at her clothes and sighed. She wouldn't exactly be making a great impression looking like this. She could always put on the clothes she… And then she remembered.

"Shoot," she groaned. She knew the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet, the one where she kept a spare toothbrush and some clothes, was empty. "I used my last spare clothes yesterday."

Sharon picked up the bag at her feet are and opened it. She pulled out a pair a black slacks and a simple white blouse and held them up. Brenda's eyes narrowed as she inspected the items of clothing.

"Those ain't mine."

"I know. They're mine. I had some spare clothes in my locker." Sharon shrugged and placed the clothes on Brenda's desk. She didn't know why she had suspected Brenda didn't have any clothes to change in to. She'd just assumed. "I picked these for you. I also had a skirt but pencil skirts aren't exactly your style." Green eyes scanned the clothes the Chief was currently wearing. "You really can't go looking like that."

"Thank you," Brenda said with a smile and picked up the clothes. They'd probably be a little big on her but anything was better than what she was wearing now. Appearance mattered in court, and with a grand jury, and she didn't want people to underestimate her or not take her seriously because the Riley case mattered a great deal to her. She owed it to the victim to get justice.

"Sharon, thank you."

"I'll meet you outside," Sharon said and pushed herself out of the chair.

Brenda watched as the brunette left her office, closing the door behind her. Through the open blinds she watched Sharon as she made her way across the Murder Room before sitting down on one of the empty desks. Brenda continued to watch Sharon, shamelessly observing her for a few long moments. Sharon wore a pin striped pencil skirt and matching blazer. Underneath she wore a light pink blouse. The whole thing was finished off by a pair of high heeled designer shoes. Somehow Sharon managed to make even the most boring suit look tasteful. It was a skill Brenda herself most definitely did not possess.

Brenda stood up and pulled the cord attached to the blinds, closing them. She slipped the pink sweater off before pulling the tank top she wore underneath over her head. She was grateful for having chosen a simple cotton white bra that morning. She then put on the white blouse, the fabric soft and crisp against her skin. The shirt smelt of Sharon, Brenda realised, and she sighed. It smelt good. She brought the sleeve up to her face and inhaled deeply, soaking up Sharon's scent.

Brenda then unzipped her skirt and let it pool at her feet. She stepped into the black slacks, zipped them up and then looked down. The slacks hung low off her hips but they were just right in length and the black pumps she'd chosen to wear that morning finished off the ensemble nicely. The clothes had changed her appearance completely, turning her from a disheveled mess into a woman who meant business.

Brenda took her purse and stepped out of her office. Sharon looked up and Brenda didn't miss the way the brunette's eyes raked over her body appreciatively. She straightened her spine, enjoying the warm feeling that settled in her belly when she met Sharon's eyes.

"You ready, Chief?" Sharon inquired. She smiled as Brenda sidled up beside her.

"Ready," Brenda grinned.

She and Sharon walked out of the Murder Room together, side by side, their arms touching with every step, Provenza looked on from behind his desk. Buzz appeared at his side, placing a print out on his desk and then followed the Lieutenant's gaze when he noticed Provenza was paying no attention to him. He saw the Chief and the Captain leave together.

"You know what that looks like, Buzz?" Provenza asked as he watched Sharon hold the door for Brenda.

Buzz furrowed his brow. "What, Lieutenant?"

Provenza gave the younger man a knowing look.

"It looks like love."

Chapter Text

Sharon closed the door to the interview room behind her. For a moment she stood frozen, her eyes closed, and she felt her heart pounding in her chest. She was angry and frustrated and felt sick at the thought that the woman she had just spoken to had been devious enough to murder her own child. She had looked into the eyes of an emotionless monster, a creature so ugly, Sharon didn't know if she would ever be able to find a place for that image in her head. Part of her didn't want to but she knew she didn't have a choice.

A shiver crept down her spine as she walked back into the Murder Room. She heard the excitement of voices before she even rounded the corner and when she did, she was struck by the image of her wife standing in the middle of the room in all her pregnant glory. Brenda looked amazing in her white maternity jeans and grey t-shirt that barely covered her large baby bump. With less than a week till their son's expected arrival date, Brenda looked more radiant than ever.

The blonde was surrounded by her friends, her former colleagues, and seemed to revel in the attention she was receiving. Amy Sykes' hand rested on Brenda's swollen stomach and she smiled in amazement as she got to feel what Sharon felt every night; the movement of life inside Brenda's belly.

"Sharon!"

Brenda saw her wife from across the room and waved. Sharon cut herself a path through the desks and reached Brenda and when she reached her wife she kissed her softly on her cheek and let her hand caress her bump.

"Hey," she said. Just seeing Brenda was enough to help some of the tension she felt fade away. "What are you doing here?"

"I needed to get out of the house. The walls were closin' in on me." Brenda held up a plastic bag. The logo was familiar. Sharon had driven past the place only the previous night when Brenda requested a snack. It seemed to be her favourite food at the moment. Sharon put it down to pregnancy cravings. "I brought donuts."

Brenda used her left hand to rub her lower back as she handed the bag over to Julio and Sharon noticed the way her wife's face briefly scrunched up. The flash of pain across Brenda's face was alarming.

"Are you ok?"

"Damn backache," Brenda sighed, still massaging her lower back. "It just keeps gettin' worse." She looked down at her swollen belly as if to scold their unborn child for giving her grief. "I take back what I said the other day. I'm done bein' pregnant."

"Not long now, Chief," Flynn said. "You look about fit to burst!"

No one pointed out that Brenda wasn't the Chief anymore. She'd tried it once or twice but had long since given up. For seven years Brenda had been Chief. And since leaving the LAPD, the title had sort of stuck, like a nickname.

"Captain, DDA Hobbs says she's on her way over to discuss Miss Leighton's confession," Provenza announced and Sharon nodded approvingly. "If they go for anything less than life without parole, I'm handing my badge over to Taylor and retire."

Sharon agreed with him, even if she didn't say it out loud. It wasn't often that she felt so strongly about a case but the complete disregard Sandra Leighton had shown for her own daughter had enraged her. She planned on making sure Andrea Hobbs charged her with first degree murder and that the woman currently sitting in the interview room wouldn't leave prison unless it was in a bodybag.

"Captain, we got the final results back from Toxicology," Julio reported. They'd been waiting for the results and they would only confirm what Sandra Leighton had already told her. "They found ketamine in Louisa's system, ma'am."

Even though Sharon already knew what had happened, having heard every detail from the mothers' own mouth, she asked the question anyway. She wasn't sure she actually wanted to know the answer.

"How much?"

"Enough to knock out a horse, let alone a four year old girl." Julio swallowed. His eyes had grown darker. Anger was etched across his face. "And Dr Morales has faxed over his finished post mortem. Not really any changes from the preliminary other than what he thinks may be an old rib fracture, maybe three or four weeks old."

Brenda, her hand still on her back, looked around the room. When she first left the LAPD she'd longed back to the days in this very room. Now, as the years had gone on and life had changed, she didn't miss it the way she once did. But standing here and listening to the case being discussed brought back feelings she hadn't felt for some time. Her brown eyes drifted to Sharon and she smiled to herself. They had come a long way since that night they first met in a hospital corridor.

"Wait, three to four weeks?" Flynn asked and he began rummaging through some papers and pulled one from the bottom of the pile. "I found this when we were first trying to ID Louisa. I did a check on all the local hospitals to see if any of them had treated any young girls in the last month or so. Just as a wild guess. Came back with a few reports but this one..." He handed it to Sharon and she looked down at the report filled out by an ER nurse. "...mentioned a Jane Doe, aged four or five, in Saint Catherine's Medical Centre where she received treatment for a broken rib and concussion. I didn't follow it up because by that time we had identified Louisa."

"That bitch has been at it for months!" Tao snapped. "God only knows how long she'd been abusing that little girl!"

"Ok. That's it. When Andrea gets here I want her to..."

The rest of Sharon's sentence was cut off by the sound of water hitting the ground followed by a terrified shriek. Sharon turned on her heel and saw Brenda standing by Julio's desk, water trickling down her legs and pooling on the floor.

"What the..." Brenda stammered. She looked at the puddle of water at her feet before looking up at her wife in confusion. The ache in her back suddenly seemed to intensify. "Sharon?"

Sharon knew immediately.

"Ok, take a deep breath," Sharon said as she hurried over to her wife's side. She took Brenda's hand into her own and forced the younger woman to look at her. In her head she quickly analysed the situation. She knew Brenda's bag was packed and in the car. She knew which hospital to go to.

"There's no need to panic. Your waters just broke, Brenda, which means that our baby is on his way."

"What? But he's not due for another week!"

"Babies don't keep time, Brenda."

The blonde's face screwed up into a mask of pain and Sharon's hands cradled Brenda's bump. She felt it go hard underneath her hands and she knew what was happening. She'd experienced this kind of pain herself twice before. Brenda groaned softly.

"Ok, Brenda, you're having a contraction. You've probably been having them all morning," Sharon said, remembering how Brenda had mentioned the backache. "I need you to take a deep breath for me, ok? Take a deep breath...OK, good. Is it gone?"

Brenda nodded, beads of sweat glistening on her forehead. "Yeah."

"I'll drive you to the hospital," Sharon said softly. She wrapped an arm around Brenda's shoulders and kissed her hair. She could feel that the younger woman was shaking. "It's going to be OK, Brenda. You can do this."

"You think so?" Brenda looked up at Sharon with questioning eyes.

Sharon squeezed her wife's hand. "I know so."

Sharon's eyes fixed on Provenza. "You know what to do." He nodded and merely pointed at the door.

Silently he mouthed, "Go!"

Sharon smiled, excitement evident in her eyes. She planted a kiss on Brenda's hair and slowly, aware that another contraction could hit at any second, led her wife out of the Murder Room. They reached the elevators and Sharon pressed the button for the ground floor.

"Now, let's go and have a baby."

That evening, six and a half hours after Brenda's waters had broken in the middle of the Murder Room, James Clay Alexander Raydor-Johnson arrived into the world with a head full of dark hair and weighing a healthy seven pounds and nine ounces. The sound of his cry was the most beautiful thing Brenda had ever heard and when he was placed on her chest, naked and bloody but oh so perfect, she and Sharon got to see their son for the very first time.

They were a family now.

Chapter Text

Sharon hesitated outside the door of the duplex. The lights were on inside but the drive was empty. She knocked, just once, and swallowed when she heard footsteps on the other side of the door. A ey was turned and then the door opened and Sharon looked up into Brenda Leigh Johnson's face.

"Hi," Brenda smiled and she stepped aside to invite Sharon inside. "Thank you for comin'."

Sharon stepped over the threshold into the living room and curiously looked around. This was the first time Brenda had invited her over to her house. Sharon was surprised they'd gotten this far in their friendship without it ever happening before but now the moment was here. She held up the bottle of wine and watched as Brenda's eyes narrowed.

"Merlot," Sharon smiled.

"I'll get some glasses," Brenda answered and ventured into the kitchen. Sharon followed and continued to let her eyes wander around. Somehow the kitchen was exactly what she expected it to be. There were some dirty dishes in the sink and that morning's coffee still sat on the side. Some takeaway menus were stuck to the fridge with an Atlanta fridge magnet.

Sharon leaned against the small breakfast table in the middle of the room and watched as Brenda rose to the tips of her toes to get two wineglasses from the kitchen cupboard.

"How are you holding up?" she inquired. Brenda didn't turn around.

"The same."

Sharon had expected that answer. It was what Brenda said most days when Sharon asked her how she was feeling. It had been a week since Brenda shot Philip Stroh in this very kitchen. A week since Sharon had found Brenda with her hands covered in blood and shaking like a leaf, sitting on a hospital bed. Since then they had spoken every single day, sometimes more than once a day. Abut Stroh. About Rusty. About the nightmares or just nothing at all.

But they had also talked about the one thing that now kept Brenda at home. FID had cleared her about the shooting. There had never been a doubt in anyone's mind. But what kept Brenda trapped between the four walls of her home was the reprimand she would receive from the city's attorney's office for attacking Philip Stroh in the elevator. Brenda objected to it and Sharon had tried to find an alternative but had run into a wall.

"Do you want to order food?" Brenda asked as she turned around, two full wine glasses in hand. Her brown eyes fixed on Sharon leaning against the table and she was struck by just how strange this scene had to be. Months ago she could quite easily have strangled Sharon Raydor but right now it felt like the woman was one of the few friends she had left in the world.

Sharon's eyes drifted back to the fridge. "Chinese sounds good," she said. It was the first menu she saw. She accepted the glass when Brenda handed it to her.

"Anythin' in particular you like?" Brenda pulled the menu down from the fridge.

Sharon smiled a little when the younger woman turned to look at her. "Surprise me." Because Brenda had already done plenty of that recently. Green eyes twinkled behind dark rimmed glasses as she held Brenda's gaze for a moment longer.

Sharon then remembered the empty drive way and as she sipped from her wine she asked, "Agent Howard isn't home tonight?"

"He's in Washington. Some big meetin'." Brenda was studying the menu, reading glasses on the tip of her nose. She sounded casual. Too casual. Sharon knew that tone but didn't press any further. By now she knew that if Brenda wanted to talk, she'd talk. Pushing Brenda Leigh Johnson would only result in the opposite reaction; she'd clam up.

Brenda phoned in their order and left Sharon guessing what it was because she just mentioned the numbers on the menu. When she hung up and dropped her phone on the counter, Brenda gestured to the living room and Sharon followed her. The living room wasn't as brightly lit as the kitchen and Sharon was almost grateful for that.

Brenda fell down on the couch and Sharon hesitated for a moment before sitting down on the other end of the couch and putting her glass down on the coffee table. Brenda reached for the remote and handed it to Sharon. Lazily she leaned into the pillows, her arm across the backrest of the couch, her fingers inches from Sharon's shoulder. Dark eyes, even darker now that they sat in this dimly lit room, met green.

"What do you want to watch?"

"You're letting me choose?" Sharon arched an eyebrow in surprise. She couldn't suppress a smile. "Who are you and what have you done to Brenda?"

Brenda's fingers danced across the couch. "I don't feel like making any more decisions tonight." There was something distant in her voice, something Sharon couldn't place.

Sharon switched on the TV and eventually settled for a movie that was about to start. It didn't appear to be particularly good but it was something. Her breath caught in the back of her throat when she felt Brenda's bare feet against the side of her leg and a quick glance confirmed that Brenda had indeed pulled her legs up onto the couch.

"Sorry," Brenda quickly apologised and was about to put her feet back down. Sharon reached out a hand and stopped her.

"Don't," she said softly and Brenda froze. "It's ok."

But then she relaxed and pulled her legs back up and she sighed softly when she felt Sharon's hand on her bare foot. Sharon's hand was warm and soft and Brenda's felt herself relax. They didn't speak, choosing to cherish the silence of the moment instead. There was no need for words.

For the duration of the movie, Sharon never pulled her hand away and for the first time that week, Brenda didn't feel alone.

Chapter Text

Brenda pressed her hands flat against her desk and rose up out of her chair. Fire burnt behind her eyes as she stared at the woman on the other side of the desk.

"Capt'n, if we are going to do this then I think we need to have some ground rules."

Sharon Raydor sized up the blonde Deputy Chief and cocked her head. "Ground rules?" Green eyes twinkled behind her glasses.

"Yes, Capt'n. Ground rules." Brenda put an emphasis on Sharon's rank. In her chest her heart thundered uncontrollably and she felt the anger pulsate through her veins. But it wasn't just anger she felt and she was acutely aware of it. And it infuriated her.

"Ok, Chief," Sharon said sweetly and smiled. "How about, I stay out of your way but when I need you to, you do as I say. Deal?"

Brenda pursed her lips and considered telling the Captain that she had to be out of her mind but she swallowed her words. She could agree with Sharon and it meant the brunette would leave her alone. She could deal with whatever Sharon wanted in return later and if she didn't like it, she'd get Will to throw a spanner in the works.

"Fine," Brenda replied. She smiled too. "Now, about this crime scene..."

She watched as Sharon circled slowly around the desk and came to a stop next to Brenda's chair. Brenda straightened her spine. Sharon was a little taller than Brenda was and somehow this seemed to be emphasized right in this moment. Brenda lifted her chin in an attempt to gain an advantage. She opened her mouth to ask Sharon what she was doing but when she did, no words came out. Brown eyes flickered down to Sharon's lips.

This had been happening an awful lot lately. If Brenda didn't know better, she'd think the infuriating FID Captain was pushing her buttons deliberately.

Sharon was standing so close to Brenda now, she could smell her perfume. It was sweet and flowery. Like the skirt she was wearing. A hideous pink one with a floral pattern. Sharon didn't know how the younger woman got dressed every morning in an outfit that was so... Well, different, was the polite word.

She'd heard a lot about Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson but it wasn't until their paths crossed for the first time a few weeks ago that Sharon had realised that everything, the good and the bad, was true. And now she found herself in Brenda's office again, only two weeks after having been assigned the case where she investigated one of Brenda's detectives for allegedly shooting an unarmed kid. As it happened, David Gabriel had been cleared, but the relationship between Sharon and the Deputy Chief was strained to say the least.

Sharon couldn't deny her attraction to the other woman and it didn't take a genius to understand that Brenda felt it too. Sharon wasn't used to seeing anyone look at her the way Brenda did; dark eyes filled with not only anger but also lust. She was also well aware that Brenda was trying to fight those feelings and that was one thing Sharon knew she could use to her advantage.

Manipulating people wasn't really her thing, it was more a characteristic she attributed to Brenda, but right now, it was a game Sharon was prepared to play. She wasn't one for taking risks but sometimes, just sometimes, she liked to toe the line. And it certainly felt like Brenda was pushing her not only towards it but over it.

"About this crime scene..." Sharon repeated Brenda's last words.

She didn't miss the way Brenda's lips parted just a little. A silent invitation...

Brenda held Sharon's gaze. "Yes, Captain?"

Tension crackled in the air and Sharon took another step closer to Brenda. They were toe to toe now. Brenda didn't step back. Sharon could feel the heat of the other woman's body.

Sharon leaned in closer, green eyes still holding brown, until their lips were only separated by a thin layer of air. Brenda could feel Sharon's warm breath against her lips. A shiver crept down her spine and a burning feeling settled in the depths of her belly.

Through heavy lidded eyes Sharon looked at Brenda and husked, "I don't usually do this, Chief..." For just the briefest of moments she let her fingers ghost over the inside of Brenda's wrist. The touch seemed to set both their bodies on fire and Sharon pushed just a little harder, watched the way Brenda's pupils became so wide, the blackness almost erased the brown colour of her eyes.

"You can go first."

Sharon turned around abruptly and left Brenda standing at her desk, eyes wide open and heart pounding in her chest.

The blonde Deputy Chief watched Sharon Raydor walk away.

What the hell just happened?

Chapter Text

It was almost midnight when the phone rang. Sharon was already in bed but she rolled over anyway and checked the caller ID before answering. She smiled to herself as she sat up, bringing the device to her ear.

"Hi," she said softly. She hadn't expected to be hearing her lover's voice anymore today. "What are you doing awake? It's three in the morning where you are."

"I couldn't sleep," Brenda sighed, yet her voice sounded thick and tired, as if she'd been trying for some time to fall asleep but had eventually given up. Sharon knew what that felt like.

"I wanted to hear your voice."

Sharon's eyes fluttered shut. Something ached in her chest. Something painful, near her heart. There had been too many nights where she had heard those words, or had uttered them herself. As she lay there, her eyes still closed, she imagined Brenda lying in bed too. What was she wearing? What was she doing?

"I miss you," Brenda whispered. "It's been too long."

The lump in the back of Sharon's throat was big and heavy and no matter how much she swallowed, it wouldn't shift. "I know. I miss you too."

"It's been too long."

Sharon opened her eyes again and stared at the dark ceiling above her. She felt the frustration course through her veins. Brenda was right. It had been too long. Four days since they spoke last. Four months since they saw each other last, since the last time she'd felt Brenda's body against her own underneath these sheets. Every day that passed without Brenda was another day that reminded her that she couldn't have the one thing she wanted most.

"Did you get my letter?" she asked. Her voice trembled a little.

She heard the rustling of paper as Brenda moved around in the bed.

"I've got it right here," the other woman then whispered. "I keep reading it. Sharon, I wish there was a way to..." She didn't finish that sentence. She couldn't. They both knew what she wanted to say.

Sharon knew Brenda couldn't come back. Right now this was all they had, a distance they overcame with endless text messages and phone calls and letters. As iIf as all they had left after Fritz had discovered what was going on between them and Brenda had promised to break it off before moving to Washington in an attempt to save her marriage. It was Fritz's idea, not hers, and Brenda had merely seen it as a way of escaping a situation that was slowly strangling three different people at the same time.

Sharon had wanted to walk away even before Fritz found out about their affair but she'd always ended back up back in Brenda's arms, or her bed, eventually. It was like Brenda had some kind of hold on her, one she couldn't explain, and it didn't matter how hard she tried because she would always end up falling for her again. She'd heard Brenda's voice whispering in her ear throughout the night more often than she dared to imagine but never had Brenda actually belonged to her. She still didn't.

"I wish there was a way too," Sharon sighed. The familiar mix of emotions coiled in her stomach. Hurt. Hunger. Lust. Pain.

"I just... Writing the letter..."

"Thank you," Brenda uttered, cutting Sharon's sentence off. "I know it's not really true but having something I can actually touch..."

There was a silence. It happened more and more often now when they spoke on the phone at night. Sometimes they would lie in silence for hours, just listening to the other woman breathe, imagining they were in the same bed instead of more than two thousand miles apart.

"Fritz asked me to come home for the holidays," Brenda quietly said quietly. She sounded hesitant as she mentioned her husband's name. He was the one person she and Sharon tried not to talk about but it was inevitable. He was as much part of this affair as they were.

Brenda's voice was laced with despair when she said, "I want to see you."

Sharon sighed. There was nothing else she wanted more right now. "I want to see you too."

They fell silent again and after a little while, Sharon could tell from Brenda's breathing that she was asleep. She let her eyes fall shut and listened to the soft sound of her lover's breathing. If it hadn't been for the hard plastic of the phone digging into the side of her face, she could've almost made herself believe Brenda was here. When she let her fingers ghost over the cold mattress beside her, she was cruelly reminded that she was alone.

She waited a few more minutes and disconnected the call and Sharon then placed the phone on her bedside table. From the top drawer she pulled a notepad and a pen and she put on her glasses. She always kept pen and paper in her drawer next to her bed in case of a midnight call out.

She propped the pillows up behind her back and leaned back against the headboard. She heaved a sigh before she put pen to paper and started to write.

Dear Brenda...

Chapter Text

Having Sharon Raydor follow her around all damn day was beginning to drive her mad. The FID captain was walking around with her notebookd, scribbling things down as the day went on, and Brenda had to resist snapping at her, demanding to know what she was writing. She had no idea why Raydor was even here. All she cared about was how to get rid of her.

Raydor had been waiting for her as she rolled up at the crime scene outside the High School. The parking lot was riddled with squad cars and she spotted the other members of her Division with Raydor watching on from the side lines but turning her attention to Brenda as soon as she ducked under the yellow crime scene tape.

"Chief Johnson."

Brenda set her jaw. "Capt'n Raydor, how lovely to see you again."

She didn't mean a word of it and she knew that Sharon Raydor knew.

Brenda shot the Captain a final glance before making a beeline for Lieutenant Provenza. Once she reached him he filled her in on the details of their crime scene and victim. From the corner of her eye Brenda saw Raydor pull out that damn notebook again and frustration and anger welled up in her stomach. She clenched her fists inside the pockets of her pink trench coat.

They worked the crime scene for three solid hours before returning to Parker Centre. There they worked for five hours more before they finally got the confirmation from the morgue that definitively identified their victim. Brenda was in her office when the call came in and when she put the phone down, she cradled her head in her hands for a few moments before looking up through the blinds. The Murder Room was busy and throughout the movements of her division, she spotted Sharon Raydor.

Brenda groaned softly as she stood and made her way into the Murder Room. "Doctor Morales has confirmed that our victim is indeed Matthew McKinley," she said. She looked at the picture of their victim's bashed in face. "Dental records were a match." She swallowed.

"Do you want us to do the notification, ma'am?" Julio inquired but Brenda shook her head.

"Thank you, detective," she said. Matthew McKinley was just a teenager, barely sixteen years old. Telling his parents would destroy their whole world. "I'll do this one myself."

She had almost reached the elevator when she became aware of someone walking behind her. Just as the doors slid open Sharon Raydor sidled up beside her and shot Brenda a sideways glance. "You're going to do the notification by yourself, Chief?"

"Sometimes people deserve a break, Capt'n." Brenda's eyes darkened a little.

Sharon nodded and stepped into the elevator after Brenda. She pressed the button for the ground floor and they silently rode the elevator down to the parking lot. It was only when they reached her car that Brenda realised Sharon was intending on coming with her. Keys in hand, she turned around and brown eyes unexpectedly pierced into the Captain's green ones.

"I can do this by myself, Capt'n."

"Oh, I am well aware of that, Chief. But I don't think you should."

Brenda considered answering back but decided against it. She got in the car and waited for Sharon to climb into the passenger seat. She buckled up, readjusted the rear view mirror and put the car in reverse. Moments later they left the Parker Centre parking lot behind.

Sharon looked at Brenda from the corner of her eye. The Chief looked tired. There were dark circles around her eyes. She knew that she'd only finished her previous case late last night. The whole Major Crimes division had been eating Chinese takeout in the Murder Room at midnight after closing the case. And now Brenda was already working her next case. Sharon wasn't even sure the Chief had actually been to bed, let alone had any sleep.

She observed the tight grip Brenda had on the steering wheel, how white her knuckles were. She wasn't relaxed. The tension radiated from her body and when Sharon saw how Brenda began chewing on her bottom lip, something took over. As Brenda parked the car outside the house where Matthew McKinley's parents lived, a quiet suburban road, Sharon unexpectedly placed a hand on Brenda's knee.

The blonde woman's eyes snapped up in shock.

"Let me," Sharon said softly.

Brenda furrowed her brow. "What?"

"I'll do it for you," Sharon offered. "The notification. Let me do it."

Brenda opened her mouth to object but then sank back into her chair and nodded. "OK," she said, her voice flat. "Thank you, Capt'n." Brown eyes found green. "Sharon."

Sharon flashed a smile and felt something unexpectedly warm in the pit of her belly when Brenda smiled back. She then averted her eyes and opened the car door. A perfect high heeled foot touched down on the tarmac and the sun burnt down on their heads as they walked up the garden path together. They reached the front door and without hesitation, Sharon's knuckles rapped against the wood.

Brenda took a small step back and for once, she was prepared to let Sharon Raydor take control.

Chapter Text

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.

"Chief?"

"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.

"Brenda?"

She couldn't do it.

Brenda hung up without saying a word.

Chapter Text

It was one of the rare occasions where Los Angeles experienced an enormous downpour. The skies were grey and the rain that fell from the heavens was relentless. The drains could barely cope with the volume of water and after months of awful drought, the ground was not prepared for rain. The weather man had warned of the dangers of flash floods and the risk of loss of life.

Brenda looked up when she heard the door close. It was followed by the sound of shoes being kicked off and eventually by a voice that cursed softly. A thud followed and Brenda stood up. She walked into the hallway and found herself faced with a soaking wet Sharon Raydor Her hand flew to her mouth to supress a chuckle when she saw how Sharon was trying to shrug herself out of her now very heavy and almost skin tight blazer.

"Oh, I am so glad my misery makes you happy," Sharon grumbled when she noticed Brenda was watching her. She'd managed to pull her arm out of one of the sleeves and impatiently yanked the blazer down her other arm. It fell on the flood with a soggy thud.

Brenda shook her head in amusement. "You do know they have these wonderful things called umbrellas, right?"

Sharon's eyes snapped up. "I swear to God, Brenda Leigh…"

Brenda found herself momentarily breathless. Sharon's dark hair stuck to her forehead in thin strands. She had removed her glasses and the dark hair accented her bright green eyes in a stunning way. Drops of rain still glistened on her forehead and nose and her mascara was smudged. Dark tracks ran down her cheeks. All other make-up had been washed away and Sharon's cheeks had flushed a little. The lines around her eyes and her mouth, the ones that silently betrayed that Sharon was closer to sixty-five than she was sometimes prepared to admit, stood out a little more somehow.

Brenda still pinched herself every day that she got to spend her days with Sharon, got to wake up beside her every morning and got to kiss her good night.

Sharon caught a glimpse of herself in the hallway mirror and brushed the wet hair out of her face before wiping at the mascara stains on her cheeks. The stains didn't fade and in frustration Sharon began untucking her pink shirt from her pants.

"I look awful."

Two arms slipped around her waist and Brenda pressed herself against Sharon's back. The wetness from Sharon's clothes seeped into her oversized Atlanta Falcons t-shirt, a gift from Charlie, and she let her fingers ghost across Sharon's arms before slowly reaching for the hem of her shirt and pulling it free from Sharon's pants. Warm fingers grazed over the soft skin of Sharon's stomach and as she studied her lover's face in the mirror, Brenda inhaled Sharon's scent. She smelt of her favourite perfume mixed with rain.

"I think you're beautiful," Brenda whispered, her lips close to Sharon's ear and her breath burning hot against the soft skin of Sharon's neck.

Slender fingers crept up along the line of buttons on Sharon's shirt until she reached the top one. She undid it effortlessly, all the while keeping her eyes connected with Sharon's in the mirror. Her fingers trailed up higher, along Sharon's collarbone and her neck until they reached her mouth. Brenda followed the lines there and slowly further up along Sharon's cheek, across the mascara smudges and raindrops and the little crow's feet by her eyes until she reached Sharon's hair.

Then she slowly turned Sharon around until she was facing her. Brown eyes didn't let go of green and Brenda just let her fingers dance across Sharon's cheek before slowly leaning in.

"You're beautiful, Sharon. And I never ever want to hear you say anythin' different."

Chapter Text

Brenda quietly closed the door to the duplex behind her. The house was dark aside from a small lamp that had been switched on in the living room. She walked through the kitchen into the other room, drawn towards the light, and found the note Fritz had carefully placed against the base of the lamp. His handwriting was neat as always, a stark contrast to Brenda's messy scribbles, and she looked down at his words.

On a stake out. Won't be back till tomorrow. There's food in the fridge. Love you.

Her eyes lingered a moment longer on those last two words. Love you. She knew he loved her. He told her every day. With a sigh she put the note back where she'd found it and walked to the bedroom. She couldn't remember the last time she had said those words to Fritz.

Brenda shrugged herself out of the blue sweater she was wearing and let it fall on the floor next to the bed before turning to the mirror on the wall. She frowned as she stared at her own reflection; she was cruelly confronted by the lies she saw in her own eyes.

She had wanted Fritz to be home tonight. She had needed him to be home. Standing in the emptiness of the house did nothing to ease the utter turmoil she felt inside. With a sigh Brenda turned away from her reflection and made her way to the bathroom. She switched on the shower and as she waited for the water to warm up she peeled the rest of her clothes away from her body. When she stepped under the hot flow of water she let her head fall back and let the water wash away the remnants of make-up that still lingered on her skin.

With her eyes closed Brenda stood under the warm water and her mind took her back to earlier tonight.

Sharon had come to Brenda's office to talk about the audit. It had been nothing now. They often worked late these days because there was a lot to do. Brenda wouldn't say it out loud but she was grateful that it was Sharon who was auditing Major Crimes and not someone else. She trusted Sharon.

They had worked for a couple of hours before eventually going to the break room to get coffee. And somehow that had been the start. The start of something Brenda now could no longer avoid. They'd walked back to Brenda's office together side by side, neither of them speaking, and it wasn't until they realised they'd been standing outside the closed door for about twenty seconds that they became aware they were staring. At each other.

Brenda had averted her eyes and quickly opened the door. Sharon's arm had brushed against hers as she stepped inside and Brenda had followed her, her skin tingling and her body suddenly on edge. Following Sharon back into the office had been the mistake that had started it all.

Sharon had turned around just as Brenda closed the door and when Brenda had looked up, she'd found Sharon looking at her. The shade of green of her eyes had darkened, Brenda could see it even in the dim light from the lamp on her desk. Sharon's hand rested on the back of the chair she'd been sitting in, nails digging slightly into the leather.

In that moment Brenda had fallen apart.

She had managed to hide, or perhaps simply deny, her feelings for Sharon for some time now. She couldn't quite remember when she had first noticed them but once she did, it was already too late. She had made the mistake of falling in love with someone who has not her husband. She had fallen in love with Sharon Raydor and there was nothing she could do about it other than try to carry on as normal, pretend nothing was happening. She was good at pretending. She could lie to anyone. But in that moment as she looked at Sharon, Brenda couldn't lie, not even to herself.

Her marriage wasn't perfect but it wasn't awful. Fritz was a good man. He loved her. He put up with things no other sane person would ever put up with. He'd learnt to navigate the storm that was Brenda Leigh Johnson and somehow always managed to find the right balance. Brenda was well aware of how much he had sacrificed to be with her. The more she'd thought about it, the more she felt that she hadn't done anything at all. It had all been Fritz. It had always been Fritz. And although he had changed and in some moments she saw him as only a ghost of his former self, she couldn't do it to him to turn around and walk away. It would destroy him. She couldn't carry that burden.

Brenda had averted her eyes when Sharon continued to stare at her and felt her cheeks flush pink. Her heart pounded in the back of her throat and she only looked up when she heard Sharon come closer. The soft clicking of her heels against the lino of Brenda's office floor sounded almost hollow and when she finally met Sharon's eyes, Brenda saw something she couldn't put into words. She swallowed hard. Her mouth was dry.

They'd looked at each other. Neither spoke. It seemed that the silence carried more meaning than any words ever could.

One single moment of being unguarded had led them here.

Hesitantly Brenda had reached for Sharon's hand. She'd always wondered if the brunette's skin was as soft as she imagined it to be. Her fingertips ghosted over the back of Sharon's hand, followed the shape of her fingers and eventually slipped down to the inside of her wrist. Sharon's skin was warm and Brenda's breath hitched when she felt Sharon's pulse against her fingers. Her teeth sank into her bottom lip as the desire to lean in grew stronger.

She knew what she was about to do, what she wanted to do….

Brenda leaned in closer. She could see each and every perfect little line across Sharon's face, every beautiful dark eyelash, every shade of green within her eyes. She could feel the brunette's breath against her cheek, felt her own heart pound so fast it was about to break through her ribcage. She wondered, for a split second, if Sharon's lips would taste of coffee.

It was Sharon who spoke first, finally severing the silence. Her voice was only whisper and the words slipped from her lips as she watched Brenda come even closer.

"Are you sure?"

Brenda had torn her eyes away from Sharon's lips, had let the older woman's hand slip out of her own and turned around, her hands now in her hair as a sharp pain shot through her chest. She shook her head even though she didn't really know why. How could it be that it felt as if the whole world had just collapsed?

"I can't do this," Brenda had whispered. It felt as if someone was tearing up her insides, shredding her heart and ripping apart her soul. She'd turned to look at Sharon only to find the brunette already at the door. "Sharon, I…"

Sharon had shook her head. "Maybe it's better if we don't talk about this anymore." She tried to smile. "Good night, Brenda Leigh."

Brenda's eyes snapped open under the hot flow of water and she let out a groan before switching off the shower and reaching for the towel that hung on the little hook on the wall. She dried her hair as best as she could before wrapping the towel around herself and leaving the bathroom. Her gaze fell on the bed when she walked back into the bedroom. Fritz's side would be empty tonight.

Brenda got dressed in a pair of pink pyjama pants and a black tank top and climbed into bed. She rolled onto her side, facing the space where her husband would sleep. She imagined him lying there, looking back at her. She had come home tonight hoping to see him, to touch him, in the hope that it would do something, anything, to change how she felt. She had walked away from someone else who loved her only to come home to emptiness and the question whether she had truly done this for herself.

She could still hear Sharon's voice, could still feel her breath. Sharon had asked her if she was sure.

Brenda closed her eyes and let out a sigh.

Truth was, she really wasn't.

Chapter Text

She almost didn't recognise her when she first walked in. She looked so different, or maybe it was because she hadn't expected to see her at all. It was only when Sharon heard her voice that she realised it was really her and she turned around, almost dropping the file she held in her hand.

She was a vision.

The cobalt blue dress she wore complimented her blonde curls and brown eyes beautifully. It looked as if it had been made for her, like it had been painted onto her skin. The dress was tight around her chest and fell beautifully down her waist and ended a couple of inches over her knees. She wore matching shoes with a slight heel.

"Brenda?" Sharon took in the blonde woman's appearance. This was not a social call, she guessed. Especially not on a Friday night and certainly not when wearing a dress like that. It had been over a year since Sharon saw Brenda last but now that she laid eyes on her, it felt longer and far less at the same time.

Brenda's face lit up at the mention of her name and she turned around.

"Sharon."

She crossed the Murder Room but stopped short of reaching the Captain, leaving a couple of feet between them. The way she froze, the way her eyes widened a little and the way Brenda crossed her arms in front of her chest almost as if to protect herself, told Sharon that she wasn't the only one who still felt it.

Brenda tucked a stray curl back in place and could only look at Sharon through her eyelashes. She was blushing and Sharon thought it was one of the most endearing things she'd ever seen.

"What brings you here?" Sharon inquired. She brought the file she held up to her chest, like she was trying to create some kind of barrier between them when really there was only air.

"I was told Fritzy would be here."

"He's getting changed," Provenza barked from the other end of the room. He flashed a smile. "I assume into the tux that accompanies that dress."

"I would certainly hope so," Brenda answered and looked down at her dress, fingered the material between her thumb and index finger. "I didn't think I'd ever be wearing something like this."

Sharon had to agree. It was a far cry from the ugly floral skirts and bad sweaters she was used to seeing Brenda in. Right now Brenda looked, by lack of a better word, stunning.

"Going anywhere nice?" It was a stupid question because it was fairly obvious that wherever Brenda was going was somewhere classy.

"Charity event organised by the District Attorney's Office," Brenda answered. Her nose wrinkled slightly when she said it. It sounded fancy but it wasn't exactly the sort of thing people were keen to attend. It was the kind of function where you just had to show up; the see and be seen kind of environment.

Sharon nodded. She'd heard Andrea Hobbs talk about it yesterday. Andrea had been as thrilled about going as one would be to have root canal without anaesthetic.

Sharon and Brenda looked at each other for the longest of moments, both reminded of how different this situation could have been. They didn't have to say it. They both knew that it could have been Sharon who accompanied Brenda tonight. If they had made a different choice on that day in October four years ago, everything would have changed.

If Sharon had said "I love you too" to Brenda when the blonde confessed the way she felt. If Brenda had never said those words at all. If they had both given in to what their hearts were whispering, screaming, at them. If they'd both faced what couldn't be denied.

If they'd never fallen in love with each other in the first place.

If...if...if...

There were no 'ifs' anymore. There wasn't even a 'them' anymore. Now there was just nothing.

Sharon didn't stop to think about it as often as she used to. She was trying to find a way to move on the same way she knew Brenda had too. But right now all she wanted was to take Brenda's hand and be the one to take her to this event and glow in the beauty of the woman at her side. But she wasn't.

And she wouldn't.

"Hey," Fritz said as he walked into the murder room. He was still adjusting his tie as he kissed Brenda on her cheek. Brenda turned her head away just enough for Sharon to meet her eyes.

"You look beautiful," Fritz complimented his wife.

"She sure does," Sharon flatly answered, an echo of loss and regret lacing her voice.

Brenda briefly looked up at her, brown eyes full with unspoken questions, but Sharon looked away, found something on the floor to stare at. It had been too long.

"Are you ready?" Fritz asked and offered Brenda his hand. She just nodded

"Have fun," Sharon offered as the couple turned around and began to walk away.

Brenda looked over her shoulder as she linked her arm through Fritz's. She'd heard the way Sharon spoke those words, heard exactly what she really wanted to say.

The look in Brenda's eyes matched Sharon's.

Regret.

"I'll call you tomorrow, OK?"

Sharon just watched as Brenda walked away.

They both knew she wouldn't call.

Chapter Text

There were bad days and then there were totally fucked up days. And then there were days that were just so awful, there was no way to describe them. And today was one of those days.

Brenda held the door to Sharon's condo and waited for the older woman to come inside. Sharon's purse and keys dangled off Brenda's fingers and Sharon's blazer was draped over her arm. She tried not to stare at the blood stains on Sharon's shirt as she came in, tried not to look at the bloody smudges across her neck and face.

Sharon didn't speak. She just stood in the hallway and only stirred when Brenda put her hand on her back. Green eyes looked up. They had lost their shine. All Brenda saw was grief and loss. In a flash she was back at the crime scene and a cold shiver crept down her spine. She'd received the call from Provenza telling her to come down as fast as she could. What she found when she got there quickly made her realise why Provenza had called her. She'd never seen anything more heart-breaking.

Sharon had cradled the girl's lifeless body in her arms as she shouted orders at those around her. She sat on the front lawn of the house in the usually quiet suburban street, sunlight falling across her hair. But her voice was sharp, laced with emotions she tried very hard to suppress. She'd stroked strands of hair out of the girl's lifeless eyes and had whispered words of comfort that would never be heard.

The hostage situation with their suspect had gone downhill fast. No one really knew what happened but now he and the girl were dead. More than twenty bullets riddled the guy's body. A single knife wound had killed the girl.

Brenda had ducked under the crime scene tape and kneeled down next to Sharon in the grass. Silently she had helped Sharon to her feet and carefully led her away from the scene. She drove her home after texting Rusty to let him know it would be best if he was late coming home today. She didn't want him seeing Sharon covered in blood.

"Sharon, come on," Brenda gently tried to coax Sharon down the hall towards her bedroom. She would have to take off the bloody clothes.

"I'd like a drink," Sharon sighed. Her throat was dry and every time she swallowed it tasted like dirty dishwater. "I just need…"

Brenda guided Sharon down the hall, pushed open the bedroom door and supported the brunette to the bed. Sharon sank down on the comforter and looked up at Brenda. The blood had dried now and Sharon's hands were coated in it. She'd tried to wipe them on her shirt at some point but it hadn't made any difference. Blood didn't just wipe off.

"Sit down. I'll get it," Brenda whispered softly and headed for the door. She turned around just before leaving, reassuring herself that Sharon was ok. Seeing her look so small and so fragile almost broke Brenda's heart. This was not the Sharon she knew and loved.

Brenda went to the kitchen, took a glass from the cupboard and poured some ice cold water from the jug Sharon kept in the fridge. With the glass in her hand she walked back to the bedroom but when she entered, Brenda noticed Sharon was gone.

She heard the sound of the shower running and after putting the glass down on the bedside table, Brenda hesitantly approached the bathroom. The door was closed.

"Sharon?" She knocked on the door softly. No answer came. She knocked again, a little firmer this time. "Sharon? Do you mind if I come in?"

She waited a few more seconds to allow Sharon a chance to answer but when it remained silent, she opened the door. Brenda's eyes immediately fell on the shower cubicle and although steamed up, she could make out Sharon's shape. She sat under the hot flow, legs pulled up to her chest and her head in her hands. The water relentlessly pounded down on her shoulders and back.

"Oh, Sharon," Brenda whispered as she carefully opened the shower door.

She didn't even stop to think about the fact she was still fully dressed. She just stepped into the cubicle and under the flow of water. She slowly sat down on the floor next to Sharon, wrapped her arms around her lover's shoulders and pulled her close. The water had drenched both of them now. Brenda's curls were plastered across her face and she lay her head down against Sharon's, giving her a safe place to hide.

The dried blood had been washed off her skin but the sounds couldn't be erased from her ears, the images not rinsed form her brain. Burning hot tears streamed down Sharon's face as her shoulders shook and her body trembled. She rested against Brenda, reassured by her loving touch, and curled herself almost around her girlfriend's body.

Brenda softly kissed the top of Sharon's head, threaded her wet hair with her fingers. No words were said, no sounds were made. There was only the sound of the water as it rained down on them, embracing them both.

When Sharon finally looked up at Brenda, the blonde just nodded. Slowly she stood up and reached for Sharon to take her hand. Brenda turned the shower off and picked up the towel that hung on the hook outside the cubicle, wrapped it around Sharon's body and with a gentle smile, led the older woman into the bedroom.

Once there Brenda peeled off her wet clothes and discarded them on the floor. From the drawer where she kept some of her spare clothes she took a pair of grey sweatpants and t-shirt and put them on. When she turned around she found Sharon sitting on the bed and she walked over, kneeled down in front of her and took both Sharon's hands into her own.

"What do you want me to do?" Brenda whispered softly. "What do you need, Sharon?"

Sharon looked into those stunning brown eyes. She was so grateful to have Brenda in her life.

"Hold me," she whispered. "Just hold me."

Brenda smiled and kissed Sharon's hand. "I can do that."

They lay down on the bed together, facing each other. Brenda's arm was safely draped across Sharon's waist and they looked at each other, and only each other, and Brenda continued to watch as Sharon's eyes slowly closed and she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

The knock on her office door surprised her. Her entire division was out canvassing the neighbourhood where their victim lived and she wasn't expecting them back for at least another hour.

"Come in," Sharon called and looked up from her paperwork as the door opened. Her face lit up when she saw the unexpected visitor.

"What a lovely surprise," she said as she stood up. "What are you doing here, honey?"

Brenda leaned in and quickly kissed Sharon on the lips. Sharon kissed her back, wrapping her arms around Brenda's neck. She wasn't one for big public displays of affection but since they were alone, it couldn't hurt.

When they parted Brenda tenderly wiped a smudge of lipstick from the corner of Sharon's mouth and the brunette leaned in to her lover's touch.

"My meetin' was cancelled and I had a choice between paperwork and comin' to see you," Brenda smiled as she sat down in one of the chairs across from Sharon's desk. It had been years since she'd last sat at that very desk. She didn't think of it as hers anymore.

"Looks like I won," Sharon answered and pointed at the paperwork sprawled out over her own desk. Witness statements, a transcript of an interview and crime scene notes. None of it was thrilling but it needed to be done. "This what I'm doing so I am glad you're here and..."

"I want to take you out to dinner," Brenda cut her off. "Tonight. And you can't say no."

Sharon looked up. Curiosity flickered behind green eyes as she sized up the small blonde sitting in front of her. Over time she'd gotten used to Brenda's impulsive nature, grown to adore it even, and even after three years of dating, Brenda still managed to surprise her. They'd been living together for just over a year now and there wasn't a dull day in their lives.

Sharon's lips curled up into a little smile. "When was the last time I ever said no to you?"

"I can't remember," Brenda smirked. "I remember you saying yes though... Again and again." The glint in her eye was almost devious and she saw the way Sharon's cheeks reddened slightly. "I need you to be ready for seven o'clock." She went to stand. "Don't be late."

"Where are we going?" Sharon tried, knowing full well Brenda wasn't going to divulge that information. It was just another thing Brenda was annoyingly good at; keeping secrets.

"I made reservations," was all Brenda said. She headed for the door but turned before leaving. "And if you're home early enough, I may just make it worth your while."

"Oh, I have no doubt that you will," Sharon replied back. She could already feel the electricity crackle in the air.

"Good," Brenda answered. "Then neither of us will end up disappointed."

She stepped out of the office and closed the door behind her. She sauntered out of the Murder Room without looking back and eventually disappeared out of sight.

Sharon leaned back into her chair, suddenly very aware of her heart pounding in her chest, and she couldn't help but smile. Life with Brenda Leigh was like a crazy roller coaster ride but she wouldn't have it any other way.

Chapter Text

There were few things more stressful than police officers getting shot on the streets of Los Angeles and right now Sharon Raydor found herself on a frenzied crime scene. She wasn't sure where one thing ended and another began. Dozens of police cruisers had pulled up outside the yellow crime scene tape, their blue and red flashing lights cutting strange shaped shadows across the building walls. People were talking, walkie talkies crackled and somewhere amongst the chaos a voice was barking orders.

She didn't need long to recognise the voice. It belonged to the only person in the LAPD who dared to step onto a crime scene wearing a pink trench coat and matching pink kitten heels. Against the dark backdrop, Brenda Leigh Johnson was a stunning vision, both for all the right and all the wrong reasons.

Sharon approached the Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division with her hands shoved firmly into the pockets of her own trench coat. Black, like the shadows that surrounded her. When she reached the blonde haired woman, Brenda had just finished handing out her orders and she turned at the sound of Sharon's heels clicking against the tarmac. Brown eyes widened slightly at the sight of the brunette.

"Capt'n Raydor," Brenda said. The usual hint of dismay was absent from her voice. She spoke almost quietly. "Looks like it's gonna be a rough night."

Sharon swallowed. "It would certainly appear so, yes." She looked around. The members of Brenda's division were all disappearing in different directions. "I take it you have a plan of action?"

Brenda nodded. "I know you have your own investigation to run, Capt'n."

Sharon didn't answer. This was how it always went between them. One of them would mark their territory, remind the other who was in charge. And although Brenda outranked her, Sharon usually had control over crime scenes that involved officers discharging their weapons. It was something she and Brenda had learnt to accept about each other, albeit begrudgingly, and now tha their paths continued to cross it was almost as if they had reached a silent understanding about at least trying not to get in the other's way.

Brenda turned around when the noises behind them betrayed that one of the fallen officers was about to be escorted to the nearby ambulance. The police officers to their side stood in formation, silently paying their respects to their fallen comrade, and when Sharon heard Lieutenant's Provenza's booming voice call, "Attention!" a cold shiver crept down her spine and she covered her heart with her right hand and bowed her head.

From the corner of her eye Sharon noticed Brenda looking at her and she met the blonde's gaze. For the first time since entering the crime scene Sharon noticed Brenda looked tired. How long had it been since the Chief had slept? As she thought about that question Sharon realised she had been up for almost twenty-four hours herself; an unfortunate circumstance of working several cases at once.

There was something about Brenda Leigh Johnson that intrigued Sharon. It wasn't the rumours she'd heard flying around ever since her arrival from Atlanta. It wasn't even the fact she was just plain odd. It was something Sharon couldn't put her finger on and the longer she looked at Brenda, the more aware she became of it. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the blonde moved a little closer and their elbows touched.

What the…

Sharon stood up straight as soon as the ambulance doors were closed and took a quick step back.

Brenda stared down at her feet for a moment before slowly letting her eyes trail up and meeting Sharon's. Around them people were moving around, continuing to investigate the shooting that had cost two patrol officers their lives and had left their squad car riddled with bullets. It was only when she heard Tao call her name that Brenda tore her eyes away from the FID Captain.

"Yes, Lieutenant?"

"The calibre and the amount of shell cases suggest the shooter had an automatic weapon," Tao explained as he showed a bullet casing between a gloved thumb and index finger. "I count only four or five rounds for each of the officers." His face fell. "They never stood a chance."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Brenda nodded and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. Determination settled in her chest and she fixed her gaze back on Sharon.

"Capt'n?"

Sharon's eyes narrowed a little. "Chief?"

"I have assigned my detectives in such a way they should not be in the wat of your investigation." Brenda fumbled with one of the oversized buttons on that hideous trench coat. "I know you're in a 72 hour reporting cycle and the quicker we establish the officers are innocent, the better."

Sharon was surprised and resisted asking the Chief why she was so forthcoming but bit back her sharp retort and just said, "Thank you."

Brenda looked directly at Sharon, saw the dark circled under her eyes, the way her shirt had creased a little too much underneath the open trench coat. Silent hints that betrayed a day that had been too long and sleep that had been too short. Brenda cocked her head a little and took a step towards Sharon, entering her personal space without warning. Sharon wanted to step back but something stopped her. She just looked down when Brenda placed a hand on her forearm.

"I have arranged for Detective Gabriel to do the notification," Brenda softly said. "I think the burden on FID is big enough as it is." Kind brown eyes searched for and eventually found green. Sharon wondered how she'd never noticed how many different shades of brown Brenda's eyes really were. "I hope you don't mind?"

"I don't mind," Sharon answered, the echo of relief evident in her voice. "I don't mind at all. Thank you, Chief."

"You're welcome," Brenda replied and her hand lingered a moment longer on Sharon's arm. The air between them seemed charged somehow and when she pulled back her hand, Sharon almost instantly missed it.

Brenda made a gesture towards the bullet riddled car. "After you, Capt'n."

And Sharon went, aware that Brenda Leigh Johnson was walking right behind her. When she caught a glimpse of the blonde in the shattered glass of the windscreen, Sharon decided that maybe that pink trench coat wasn't so damn ugly after all.

Chapter Text

She hesitantly knocked the front door before letting her arm fall down beside her body. Darkness had only just started to fall and the temperature was dropping fast. She shivered in her sleeveless dress when a cool gust of wind kissed the back of her neck and she felt the strong urge to turn around and run. At that moment she felt the warm hand on the small of her back and from the corner of her eye she looked up at her husband. Moments later the door opened and, backlit by the light from the hall, Sharon Raydor invited them inside.

Brenda stepped over the threshold into something she would never have imagined she would do and she clutched the bottle of wine and gift bag in her hand a little tighter. Beside her, Fritz complimented Sharon on how lovely the house looked and she faintly heard Sharon answer something that sounded like she was glad he and Brenda could come.

"Everyone else is in the living room," Sharon said as she gestured towards the door on her right. "I think Andy may have just finished the tour but I could do it again, if you'd like."

"I think I'll just go say hello to Andy first," Fritz said. He turned to look at his wife. "Brenda?"

Brenda swallowed hard and brown eyes suddenly connected with green. "I'll take that tour."

"Let's take that wine to the kitchen first," Sharon suggested. "We can start there."

Brenda followed Sharon to the kitchen and shuddered when she heard the sound of laughter from the living room. She hadn't expected it would feel like this. She hadn't expected it to hurt but now that she was here, standing in the house Sharon now shared with Andy and Rusty, Brenda was overcome by the bitter sting of pain.

Sharon closed the kitchen door behind them and waited for Brenda to put the wine bottle on the counter. Plates and bowls of food stood neatly covered by the stove. The kitchen was large and spacious with an island in the middle and a dining table that seated six. The dark wooden cupboards were finished off with a marble countertop. It was exactly the family kitchen Brenda imagined for Sharon.

"I didn't think you'd come," Sharon said, dragging Brenda out of her thoughts. The blonde looked up.

"For a while neither did I," she admitted. "But Fritz wouldn't have understood why."

"I wouldn't have either."

"Sharon…" Brenda shook her head.

This was too much. She knew it would be and yet she had done it to herself, and to Sharon. Brenda knew they were both better off just staying away from each other, by choosing to live their lives as if nothing had ever happened, and that way they could both cope. But right now, in this moment, all the things they had been trying to hide just filled the space between them and there was nowhere left to run.

Sharon leaned against the counter and never took her eyes off Brenda. "It doesn't have to be like this."

"Yes, it does," Brenda countered. "You and I can't be in the same room, Sharon. Not anymore. Not since…" She bit back the rest of the words. Not since Brenda had been too much of a coward to leave her husband.

It all came back to that.

A mistake.

Not the affair, not the fact that they had fallen in love with each other, but the fact that Brenda hadn't been able to walk away from Fritz when she knew she really should have. Instead it had been Sharon who walked away and ever since they hadn't been able to be around each other.

Pain never dies. Love doesn't either.

"Do you really want me to give you the tour?" Sharon asked, green eyes softening behind dark rimmed glasses. She noticed the way Brenda was picking at the label on the wine bottle.

The blonde shook her head. "No." She swallowed. "We should join the others."

Her heart thundered in her chest when Sharon pushed herself away from the counter and strode towards her. She held still only a couple of inches away from Brenda and Brenda could see every perfect eyelash, every line, every little thing that made Sharon so beautiful.

Brenda wanted to cry when she felt Sharon's hand against her cheek and her breath caught in the back of her throat when Sharon leaned in and softly pressed her lips against Brenda's.

The kiss was soft and chaste and over within a second but Sharon's hand lingered a moment longer.

"You should wear green more often," Brenda whispered as she let a strand of dark hair slide through her finger and let her gaze drop to the dress Sharon was wearing. It truly was stunning. "It brings out your eyes."

"Please, Brenda…"

Brenda went to reach for Sharon's hand but the brunette took a step back and started for the door. The vulnerability Brenda had seen moments ago was gone when she turned around. "We should go back."

"Yes," Brenda answered. "We should."

If only really they could go back.

Chapter Text

The church was near enough full and everywhere she looked, Brenda could see sea of blue. It seemed that every police officer in Los Angeles was here to pay their respects. She let her eyes wander back to the front of the church. The coffin, decorated with white flowers, stood next to the altar and the priest would soon be starting his sermon.

There would be music and speeches and anecdotes from various people who had known William Pope. They had even approached Brenda with the request if she wanted to speak but she had declined. Her relationship with Will Pope had only deteriorated when she left the LAPD and moved to the DA's office. After a while she wasn't sure he was still the man she had once known. He had gotten what he wanted and had spared no one in his way.

But now Chief Will Pope was dead.

In the most ironic way, his heart had just stopped at his desk.

Brenda shifted in the pew. She sat towards the back and had the entire pew to herself. She was one of the few people not wearing dress uniform. She ran her hands along her black pencil skirt and blazer, smoothing out the invisible creases, and then reached up to readjust the bun in the back of her neck. She was reminded of the last time she had been to a police officer's funeral; when Chief Delk had died and Pope had taken his place. It was a cruel twist of fate that now she was here to witness Will Pope's last goodbye.

Brenda looked up when she heard footsteps approach. Around her people were still whispering but the voices stilled when the organ started playing. Her eyes trailed up to find the woman standing next to her, in complete dress uniform and her cap under her arm. Sharon Raydor had pulled her hair back into a bun too and it made her look much more severe than Brenda knew her to be.

"Brenda," she said softly. "May I?"

Brenda wondered why Sharon wasn't sitting with the rest of her division. She'd seen Lieutenants Provenza and Flynn a few rows ahead towards the middle of the church, flanked by Julio Sanchez and Mike Tao as well as Buzz and a dark woman Brenda didn't know. But Sharon was here, next to her, and Brenda didn't know why.

"Of course," she whispered and looked down into her lap after scooting over in the empty pew. "There's enough room for both of us."

They shared a look, both remembering the first time Brenda had muttered that line a little over a year ago. It had been an empty media room and Brenda had been re-watching an interview. Sharon had knocked on the door, asking if she could come in. Brenda had answered there was enough room for both of them and Sharon had closed the door behind her. When she'd heard it fall into its lock Brenda had grown aware of Sharon's body closely leaning in to her own. The next minute she'd pressed Sharon up against a wall and kissed her.

Two days later, Brenda had attacked Philip Stroh and signalled the end of her career. She hadn't seen Sharon since.

Sharon slowly sat down next to Brenda and put her hat in her lap. Their shoulders and knees touched. For a second neither of them said anything. The familiarity of being so close they could feel each other was confronting and Brenda was momentarily struck by just how inappropriate this was at a funeral. She peered at Sharon through her eyelashes and found the brunette looking back. She was struck, again, by just how bright Sharon's eyes were.

"Why aren't you sitting with the others?" Brenda asked. The first tones of Amazing Grace filled the church and she shivered. She hated that song because it always made her feel like crying. Why did everyone always insist on playing it at funerals?

"I wanted to make sure you we're alright. I watched you come in," Sharon explained, still fixing Brenda with her stare. She didn't need to say out loud that she'd been standing in the shadows in the back of the church looking for Brenda. As she said those words, she knew the blonde would understand.

Sharon was always looking for her. The same way Brenda was always looking for Sharon too.

"You never said you were actually coming."

"I wasn't going to. Will wasn't exactly my friend anymore but…" Brenda swallowed. Up until that morning she really had considered not going. She'd even thrown away the invitation to the service the day it arrived. But this morning she had changed her mind at the last minute and now she was holding the thin, white booklet with Pope's name and face on it.

"It felt like the right thing to do. I think not saying goodbye would have been a disservice."

She looked ahead at the masse of uniformed officers. Some had bowed their heads now that the music was playing but most were looking straight ahead the same way she was. None of these people had the kind of relationship she once had with Will Pope and the only person who could even begin to understand was the one sitting next to her.

Brenda doubted anyone had the same relationship with Sharon Raydor the way she did.

She looked down when she felt Sharon's hand take hers and watched as the older woman laced their fingers together. Still a perfect fit. Sharon's hand was warm and soft and Brenda let out a deep breath just as the final tones of Amazing Grace came to an end and the priest approached the altar. He spoke with a booming yet comforting voice as he welcomed all of those present to remember and celebrate the life of William Pope.

"I'm glad you're here," she whispered, softly squeezing Sharon's hand. The older brunette squeezed back.

"So am I, Brenda. So am I."

Chapter Text

She had only been back at work for two days. Being back here felt strange. It felt as if everything had changed even though in reality, nothing had. Not at work anyway. But she had changed. She wasn't the same woman anymore like she was last week. Death changed a person and although Brenda had been surrounded by death for years on a daily basis, being confronted with her own mother dying after having watched her father stare cancer in the face, was shocking. Death was real. It wasn't just murder, it wasn't just crime. It was the loss of a loved one and it happened to everyone eventually.

Including her.

It was late and her entire division had gone home. Brenda couldn't face the thought of going home. She and Fritz had been staying in a hotel since returning from Atlanta and she wasn't sure if she'd ever actually be able to go back to the duplex.

Brenda walked down the hall toward the break room and opened the door. She startled when she became aware of the lone figure sitting at the table furthest away from her. The unidentified woman jumped up, knocking over the chair she had been sitting on, and hands flew to her face almost as if to hide something.

Brenda's eyes slowly adapted to the darkness of the room. The other occupant had switched the lights off and Brenda's fingers trailed over the wall looking for the light switch.

"Don't," muttered a broken voice. The tone alarmed Brenda. "Please, Chief."

She blinked. "Capt'n?"

"I…I'm sorry. I didn't think anyone else was still here. I probably should get…"

Brenda could hear the tears in Sharon Raydor's voice and for a moment she wasn't sure what frightened her more; the fact she had come across the Captain in the dark or the fact that Sharon was crying. Without thinking she closed the door behind her, taking away what little light fell into the room, and took a deep breath.

"Capt'n, is everything alright?"

She and Raydor were not exactly friends but she had grown to appreciate and maybe even like the FID Captain. It had taken her a while to understand just why Sharon Raydor had been sent to audit her, and then lingered around long after things were resolved, and Brenda had found a surprising ally in the older woman. Now that they were getting close to discovering the leak within Major Crimes, something Brenda knew pained Sharon almost as much as it pained her, Brenda only appreciated the brunette more.

"I uhm… I probably should've just gone home but the thought of an empty house…" Sharon didn't finish that sentence.

Brenda remembered overhearing Gabriel tell Provenza that Raydor was single. Or separated, at least. Clearly her children were grown and no longer lived at home. Hesitantly Brenda took a step towards Sharon. She was relying on her senses to get an idea of where exactly she was in the darkened room but she then heard the shuffle of footsteps. Sharon wasn't far away.

"My brother called," Sharon almost whispered.

It was strange hearing the Captain's voice in the dark without really being able to see her and Brenda's eyes strained to see in the darkness, eventually making out the faint shape of the other woman's body. Brenda realised she didn't know Sharon had a brother. There were lots of things she didn't know about Sharon.

Sharon's voice was weak. "My mother died."

Brenda's heart sank and for just a moment she was back in the guest room, touching her mother's warm but lifeless wrist. She remembered that instant pain, the panic and the horror and when she focused on the spot where she knew Sharon stood, she could almost feel the Captain's pain.

"Oh, Sharon," Brenda said softly, not even registering she was using her first name, not her rank.

She didn't know what to do. Was she supposed to wrap her arms around Sharon? Would Sharon let her? Would just a hand on her arm be enough? Should she even be touching her at all? What was she supposed to say? Sharon had sent her a card after her Mama died and she'd left a message on Brenda's voicemail so she had cared enough to make the effort. But what was Brenda supposed to do in this moment, where Sharon's grief lay open and exposed?

"Sharon, I'm so, sorry," Brenda continued. "I…" Her voice faltered. She'd hated people asking her what had happened, had hated the questions whether her Mama had been ill or whether it had been unexpected. She didn't want to torment Sharon with those same questions.

Nervously Brenda closed the little distance between her and Sharon and put her hand on the brunette's arm. For a single moment, no longer than the length of a heartbeat, neither moved or even breathed, and then Brenda felt Sharon's body relax a little. They stood there, in the dark, closer than ever and yet miles apart.

"I wish I knew what to say," Brenda whispered. "But it doesn't matter what words I choose, they are not going to change anything. When you wake up tomorrow, it's still going to be real, no matter how much you wish it wasn't."

"You don't have to say anything," Sharon breathed, her face close to Brenda's and her breath warm on her cheek.

"Then what do you need from me?"

Brenda wished someone had asked her that question. No one had. Not even Fritz.

"Just stay?" Sharon asked. "For a little while."

Brenda squeezed Sharon's arm then hesitantly stepped forward, felt the brunette stiffen for just a second as she slipped her arms around her. But then Sharon relaxed into the embrace and rested her tired body against Brenda's, safe in the sheltering arms of someone whom she would never have dared seek comfort from in the light. But here in the darkness they found each other, each grieving their own loss. In that moment no one understood better than the other.

"Stay," Sharon repeated as a lonely tear fell down the side of Brenda's collar. "Just stay."

Brenda didn't reach to wipe the tear away, but pulled Sharon a little closer instead and let her eyes fall shut.

"As long as you need."

Chapter Text

"I swear to God, Chief, there isn't anyone more infuriating in this whole building!" Sharon exclaimed as she raised her hands in despair. "And that's saying something, considering there are about three hundred other people working here!"

Brenda Leigh Johnson smirked, arms crossed in front of her chest. It was late, after ten, and she and Captain Sharon Raydor were one of the few people still left at Parker Centre. Earlier that day they had crossed each other at a crime scene and ever since Sharon had been trying to get under Brenda's skin. According to Brenda anyway because according to Sharon she was just trying to find a way for them to work together.

If working together meant bickering for three hours straight in Brenda's office long after the rest of her Major Crimes Division had gone home for the night then Brenda guessed Sharon was doing one hell of a job cooperating. But judging from the Captain's exasperated look, Sharon didn't exactly feel like they were accomplishing anything.

Brenda didn't know what it was about the brunette FID Captain but something about Sharon Raydor made her skin tingle in a way she had never quite felt before. Just laying eyes on the older woman came with a rush of adrenaline that left Brenda's cheeks flushed, the back of her neck warm and the area between her thighs unexplainably hot. She couldn't deny there had been times where she had fantasised about shoving Raydor up against a door, hiking up whatever tight pencil skirt she was wearing that day and finding out if she felt the same rush of excitement Brenda did.

"Chief Johnson? Are you listening to me?" Sharon's harsh voice snapped Brenda out of her thoughts and she realised that she'd been staring at Sharon's lips.

"Yes Capt'n, you were sayin'?" Brenda challenged and attempted to harden the look in her eyes.

"I just really need you to…"

"Oh for heaven's sake!" Brenda exclaimed. "Can't we just agree to disagree, hand our reports in to Chief Pope and just get over it already?"

"Can you maybe just shut up?!"

Sharon stared at Brenda in bewilderment, shocked by her own unexpected outburst. She was leaning over the back of one the leather chairs, green eyes fixed on the blonde standing behind her own desk. Sharon seemed momentarily horrified by the fact she had yelled like that at a superior officer.

A nerve twitched just next to Brenda's mouth and her breath hitched. She had no idea what came over her but she uncrossed her arms and placed her hands firmly against her desk and leaned in slightly. It was almost an exact copy of the pose she had seen Sharon strike on more than one occasion. Brenda knew because she had been staring at Sharon's ass or down her shirt almost every single time.

"What was that, Capt'n?" she purred, suddenly aware of the fact she had gained the upper hand.

Something in the air shifted, something palpable to both of them. Brenda's breath caught in the back of her throat when she saw the way Sharon's nails dug slightly into the leather backrest of the chair. It was only a tiny detail but right there and then Brenda knew she had her. A surge of power overwhelmed her and she licked her lips. When she looked back up at Sharon their eyes met. Sharon had seen what she did.

"I said that maybe you should just shut up," Sharon repeated herself without a hint of nerves.

Brenda pursed her lips slightly and she waited the length of a single heartbeat.

"Come here and make me."

Sharon's teeth worried her lower lip but she stepped back from the chair and slowly made her way around Brenda's desk. The sound of her heels clicking against the lino was the only sound except for their own breathing. When she was only two steps away from Brenda, Sharon held still. Piercing green eyes searched Brenda's face as if to silently seek approval and Brenda's breath hitched as before her eyes she watched how Sharon's eyes darkened with what could only be described as lust.

Before Brenda had a chance to register what was happening, Sharon's mouth was on hers and they melted effortlessly into a kiss. It was Brenda who licked her way past Sharon's lips and into her mouth, eliciting a deep, almost guttural moan from the older woman. Brenda's hands tangled themselves in those gorgeous brown locks and she pulled Sharon deeper into the kiss.

Sharon pushed Brenda back until she bumped into the desk and nimble fingers began unbuttoning the simple white cardigan Brenda wore over her t-shirt. Brenda's head fell back, exposing the length of her neck to Sharon's warm lips, when she felt Sharon's hands cup her breasts through her clothes.

"Tell me to stop and I will," Sharon whispered, her breath so hot against Brenda's ear it almost left her skin burning. Sharon's hands were now exploring the soft skin of Brenda's stomach, shamelessly fisting the shirt and shoving it further up her body until she revealed the wire of her bra.

"No," Brenda sighed, her mind blurred by pure delight. "Don't stop." Brown eyes briefly found green when she looked up long enough to take in Sharon's features. They both knew why Sharon had said it. The wedding ring on Brenda's finger was a reminder. The blonde Chief shook her head.

"Just once."

Sharon allowed herself a moment to consider Brenda's answer but then her index finger grazed over a swollen nipple behind Brenda's bra and whatever rational thoughts she still had vanished. She crashed their mouths back together in a searing kiss whilst peeling the cardigan down Brenda's arms before pulling the t-shirt over her head. It revealed a simple white cotton bra. Sharon dipped her head and freed one of Brenda's breasts from its constraints before sucking the hard little pebble into her mouth.

Brenda leaned back against the desk, balancing on her hands. She groaned when Sharon's nails scraped over her shoulders and her back before her slender fingers unhooked the bra and the offending fabric fell down Brenda's body.

Brenda only realised she had completely lost control when Sharon unexpectedly spun her around and pressed her against the desk. Brenda was now supporting herself on her elbows and shivered when she felt Sharon's tongue trail along the back of her neck and down her spine. Sharon's skilled hands easily reached around and massaged Brenda's breasts, her nipples hardening even more against the palms of Sharon's hands.

Brenda gasped when Sharon used her knee to part her legs. The technique was identical to the one they used on suspects and Brenda's heart thundered in her chest at the thought of Sharon controlling her. She had never even once considered letting Sharon boss her around; certainly not in a professional manner but right now Sharon had all the cards and Brenda didn't have any intention to change that.

"Well, well, well," Sharon purred into Brenda's ear as her hand slowly trailed its way up under Brenda's skirt towards her thigh. "What do we have here?"

She gathered the fabric between her hands and yanked it up revealing white panties that matched the bra. Even without looking Sharon could tell Brenda was wet. She could almost smell her arousal. She cupped Brenda's sex through her panties and watched as the blonde Chief pushed herself slightly off the desk. The fabric was sodden and Brenda had no doubt she would have to throw them away.

"Please," Brenda whimpered when Sharon lazily drew small circles against the wet material.

Sharon carefully pulled aside Brenda's panties and slowly, making sure to drag the moment out as long as possible, slid her middle finger through Brenda's molten wetness. The soft outcry that escaped from Brenda's throat was music to Sharon's ears and she repeated the move, lingering a little longer around Brenda's entrance before pushing her finger inside.

"Fuck!" Brenda cried out and thrusted her hips backwards against Sharon's body.

Sharon added a second finger, the moisture coating most of her hand, and she started a steady, quick rhythm. Every thrust was met with a counter thrust from Brenda and Sharon used her other hand to apply pressure to the Chief's back, making sure she remained still on the desk, supported only by her elbows. The sight of Brenda Leigh Johnson near enough splayed out in front of her like this, surrendering herself, was almost enough to make Sharon come herself.

It was better than Brenda's fantasies had dared to let her believe and she recognised the tingling feeling of the orgasm building in the depths of her belly. She clawed at something on the desk, ripping one of the pieces of paper she'd forgotten about, and she shrieked when she felt Sharon's hot lips against her ear, along her neck, down her back.

"Oh… yes…." She breathed, overwhelmed. "Sharon…. Fuck…."

Sharon flicked her thumb over Brenda's clit and then circled it furiously, pressing and rubbing it as fast as she could. The little bundle was rock hard and throbbed against Sharon's touch.

Brenda came with an earthshattering orgasm and her muscles clenched around Sharon's fingers as beads of sweat glistened across her pale skin. Damp curls clung to her forehead and she struggled to suck in air but once she regained a sense of control, Brenda pushed herself up and turned around to find Sharon watching her with a satisfied smirk.

Brenda arched an eyebrow. "What?"

"Mission accomplished," was Sharon's answer. "You asked me to make you shut up."

Brenda licked her lips. The Captain's arrogance was both infuriating and intoxicating. She extended her hand and was a little surprised when Sharon accepted. She pulled the brunette closer and brought their mouths together for another kiss. Sharon shrugged herself out of her blazer as Brenda began unbuttoning her blouse. When the fabric parted, Brenda found a beautiful black bra covering Sharon's breasts but she didn't take too long to take in the stunning sight.

Brenda kissed and licked herself a way down Sharon's neck until she reached her breasts. The bra conveniently had its clasp at the front and Brenda skilfully opened it, freeing Sharon's breasts. She took them in her hands, let the dark pink nipples roll through her fingers and watched in awe how Sharon's eyes rolled back into her head when Brenda circled the hard pebble with the tip of her tongue.

The fantasy of shoving Sharon's pencil skirt up her hips became reality when Brenda pushed the fabric along what felt like the endless length of Sharon's gorgeous legs until she caught a glimpse of the black lace panties that matched the bra. The dark fabric was a stark contrast against the soft, pale tones of Sharon's skin and Brenda's throat felt suddenly dry.

Slowly she pushed Sharon towards the desk and encouraged her to sit on it, meanwhile running her hands along the inside of Sharon's thighs and across her stomach. Now perched on the edge of the desk, Sharon watched Brenda through heavy lidded eyes and went to remove her glasses. Brenda caught her wrist and shook her head.

"Leave them on," she husked.

Sharon just nodded and shivered when Brenda leaned in, pressing her lips against the little spot between Sharon's breasts before dragging her tongue down across her stomach. Sharon leaned back a little, offering more of herself to Brenda's mouth, and Brenda dipped her tongue in Sharon's belly button. She hooked her fingers behind Sharon's panties and peeled them down her legs. She caught the scent of Sharon's arousal and kissed her way lower down, eventually encountering the hot wetness between Sharon's thighs.

"Ooooh…." Sharon's voice was hoarse.

Brenda dragged her tongue through Sharon's molten heat and reached up to cup Sharon's breasts just as the brunette arched her back. Sharon somehow managed to pull one leg up slightly, placing her heel on the edge of the desk, providing Brenda with the most perfect access to Sharon's sex. Again she licked her way through Sharon's wetness, drawing an almost guttural moan from the Captain's throat.

She continued to taste the Captain at her leisure for a little while longer before focusing her attention to Sharon's clit. Brenda effortlessly found it and Sharon wailed when Brenda circled it with her tongue before sucking it into her mouth. She repeated this again and again and again and when she looked up she had the most stunning view of Sharon's body. It was an image she knew she would never forget.

"Oh please," Sharon pleaded. She sounded a little incoherent. "I need… Brenda…"

"What do you need?" Brenda whispered. "This?"

She pushed two fingers inside Sharon, curled them up and sought that soft little spot she always tried to find for herself. She pushed slowly but then harder when she felt Sharon move against her hand, desperately seeking friction. She brought her mouth back to Sharon's clit and licked it, flicked her tongue over it until she could physically feel Sharon writhe under her touch.

"Oh God…." Sharon sighed when she felt the first ripples of her orgasm building up. "Brenda…"

Sharon came with the Chief's name on her lips and Brenda felt the gush of arousal against her lips as it coated her fingers. She licked and sucked for as long as Sharon could bear it and only when she felt the Captain's hand gently nudge against her head, did she pull away.

Sharon slowly sat up, dark hair tangled and her pencil skirt bunched up around her hips. Silently she and Brenda looked at each other, both unable to put into words what had just happened between them.

A single "Wow" rolled off Sharon's lips.

Brenda was about to speak when outside her office a light was switched on. The desk lamp on Provenza's desk was on and Brenda saw the Lieutenant rummage through his drawers, clearly looking for something. When she looked back at Sharon she noticed the Captain was already buttoning up her blouse but Brenda also noticed the bra was missing.

Sharon threw Brenda her t-shirt and she pulled it over her head before smoothing out her skirt. She grabbed her cardigan and put it on to hide the fact she wasn't wearing a bra either and then she looked at Sharon. To anyone else they looked like two women who were working late but to each other… Brenda wasn't sure how to answer that.

It had taken only seconds and Brenda saw Provenza look up in the direction of her office. The blinds were open and the light was on. He saw her and he saw Sharon. He smiled and waved before switching the light back off. Brenda was sure she could hear him shout, "Goodnight!"

Sharon was at the door before Brenda had a chance to say anything. "We should probably call it a night," she said.

Brenda nodded. "Of course."

Sharon opened the door but didn't leave straight away. Green eyes found brown and Brenda saw something she hadn't seen up until that point. A flicker of hope.

"Just once, right?" Sharon asked.

Brenda nodded. "Just once."

When she watched Sharon Raydor walk away, Brenda knew that that promise would never hold.

Chapter Text

The department store was crowded, which wasn't surprising considering Thanksgiving was just around the corner. People were finishing their shopping in the lead up to the holidays and it had turned the mall into something that resembled an ant hill and Brenda begrudgingly followed Sharon down the aisle full of women's clothing, silently cursing herself for having gone along with Sharon's ridiculous idea of going shopping on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Sure, today was special but Brenda had planned for the day to go differently but Sharon had woken up that morning with a completely different mind-set, which was the reason Brenda now looked on as Sharon picked up a gorgeous burgundy blouse with fine silver buttons and a plunging neckline.

"You should try that on," Brenda encouraged her. "It would go beautifully with those white pants you've been meaning to wear for weeks."

Sharon flashed her a smile as she draped the blouse over her shoulder and Brenda sidled up beside her, their hands briefly touching. This relationship was still fairly new and some days they were both still so uncertain about what to do, how to act or even what to expect from each other. Sharon was far more reserved than Brenda but at the same time they balanced each other out perfectly. Sharon calmed the business inside Brenda's head, gave her a place to drop her guard. And Brenda knew Sharon had reached a new level of comfort when last week she'd taken Brenda's hand when they were walking in the park and she hadn't let go.

Sharon picked up another shirt and a dress from one of the racks before looking around for the changing rooms. They were on the other side of the floor and they cut themselves a way through the crowd of shoppers. Surprisingly there wasn't a line for the changing rooms and Sharon stepped in the second to last cubicle whilst Brenda leaned against the wall, arms crossed in front of her chest.

A couple of minutes later Sharon opened the door to her changing room. She had kicked off her shoes and was wearing the dark blue dress she had picked up. She indicated for Brenda to come over and pulled her hair aside.

"Zip me up?"

Brenda reached for the zip and as she slowly pulled it up, her fingers ghosted over Sharon's bare back. She wasn't wearing a bra anymore. Brenda could feel Sharon shiver under her feather light touch and the hint of a smile tugged at her lips when she reached the top and Sharon's hair fell back into place. Brenda ran her hands down Sharon's bare arms and could feel the goose bumps.

"You look stunning," she whispered as she leaned in. Her hands now rested on Sharon's hips, dug a little too firmly into the soft flesh. "You should get this one."

"You think?" Sharon asked and turned her head slightly. Her breath caught in the back of her throat. In the soft light in the changing area Brenda looked gorgeous.

"Yes," Brenda answered softly. She took a small step back, let her hands fall down the side of her body.

Sharon went to turn around and opened the door to her changing cubicle again. Before she had a chance to think about what was happening, Brenda had followed her in and snapped the lock behind her. Sharon blinked just as Brenda pushed her against the wall and eagerly captured her lips between her own. She felt Brenda's hands on her back, slowly unzipping her dress. The fabric began peeling away from her skin.

"Brenda," Sharon hissed when Brenda moved her lips down to the side of her neck, to the soft little spot just under her ear that would always leave her heart racing. "Brenda…!"

"Ssssh," Brenda hushed, dark eyes sparkling with mischief. She slowly pushed the dress down Sharon's waist, revealing her breasts. She took a dark pink nipple between her fingers and smirked in amusement when Sharon's eyes rolled back in delight.

"You have to be really quiet," Brenda whispered. She cupped Sharon's breasts with her hands and massaged them slowly. "You don't want anyone to hear us, do you?"

Sharon shook her head. "Nuh-uh."

Brenda hummed in pleasure as she lowered her mouth and closed it over the hardened nipple. Sharon's head fell back against the wall and her hands disappeared in Brenda's thick crazy curls. Her heart pounded in her chest.

Brenda dragged her teeth over Sharon's nipple before softly tracing her way across Sharon's stomach with her tongue. When she reached the dress still sitting on her hips, Brenda slowly peeled it down Sharon's legs before carefully placing it on the little wooden bench. She looked back at Sharon standing in front of her in nothing but her black panties, green eyes having darkened several shades.

Brenda rose up to her feet and hungrily attacked Sharon's mouth, effortlessly slipping her tongue inside. Eager hands roamed over Sharon's breasts, cupped them both, felt nipples harden, rolled them through her fingers. Brenda let her right hand slide down towards Sharon's panties, hooked her index finger behind the waistband and bit softly on Sharon's lower lip as she let her finger slide inside. She didn't even bother taking them off. Her fingers slipped effortlessly through the slick wetness that awaited her.

Sharon wanted to scream when Brenda entered her but her moan was muffled by Brenda's kiss. She clutched desperately at her lover's shoulders and whimpered when Brenda pushed firmly in and out of her in a quick but steady rhythm. Brenda's fingers were coated in wetness and she could smell Sharon's arousal. It only spurred her on. The idea that they could get caught at any second only made the whole thing more exciting and from the way Sharon's breathing became more irregular, Brenda could tell Sharon felt it too.

"Ooooh…," Sharon managed to utter.

She was almost embarrassed at how wet she was, at how badly she wanted Brenda.

Brenda curled her fingers slightly, seeking out that delicious soft spot she knew always left Sharon reeling, and pressed her thumb against Sharon's clit. The touch resulted in Sharon's eyes falling shut and Brenda trailed her tongue along the length of Sharon's neck. The skin was soft and warm and Brenda felt Sharon's racing heartbeat against her mouth.

"Oh God," Sharon sighed. "Yes…."

Brenda thrusted a little faster and rubbed furiously against Sharon's clit and crashed their mouths together when she felt Sharon hook a leg around her waist, pulling her closer.

"Don't… stop…" Sharon managed to sigh into the kiss, her voice robbed away by the start of her orgasm as it began to build up in the pit of her stomach. She rocked her hips harder, desperate for release, for anything Brenda could possibly give her, and her fingers dug deeply into Brenda's shoulders. Brenda felt the tension building in Sharon's thighs.

She was so close…. So close…

Sharon came just as Brenda kissed her again and she shuddered as the waves of pleasure ripped through her.

Brenda helped her ride out every last wave, her fingers deeply buried in Sharon's wetness, and she only pulled back once Sharon had become completely still and lazily opened her eyes. She smiled and Brenda returned the smile before slowly licking her fingers clean, not missing the way Sharon's pupils dilated a little as she watched.

"I had planned on doing this tonight," Brenda smirked and reached to tuck a strand of hair behind Sharon's ear. She leaned in and softly kissed Sharon. "I guess you got your present a little early. Happy Birthday."

"So, I don't get another present tonight?" Sharon pouted when Brenda pulled away.

The blonde stepped back towards the door and unlocked it. She opened it and stepped out, turning around before leaving. Brown eyes twinkled.

"Try on that shirt and we'll talk."

Chapter Text

Brenda placed her signature underneath yet another form and put down her pen. It felt like paperwork was all she was doing these days and it was in moments like this that she longed back to some of the more action packed days with the LAPD. Accepting the job at the DA's office had provided her with as graceful an exit as possible but now, almost a year later, the walls were getting uncomfortably close and some days Brenda felt like she couldn't breathe.

The phone on her desk began to ring and the number 1 was glowing. A smile tugged at her lips before answering and she leaned back in her chair a little, stretching her legs under her desk. Some of the tension that had been building in her shoulders melted away.

"Captain Raydor."

"Chief Johnson."

Brenda chuckled. Sharon insisted on calling her Chief, even though she was technically nobody's Chief anymore. Most of their phone calls started like this when they were both at work. It was a little play on the by now famous exchange they had once had in the Murder Room when Brenda told Sharon she had a complaint and Sharon asked her when she didn't have one.

Brenda twirled a blonde curl around her finger and fixed her eyes on a spot on the wall where the wallpaper had started to fade. It looked like someone had thrown coffee against the wall. Maybe her predecessor had lost their temper one day?

"What can I do for the most beautiful woman in the LAPD today?" she asked, her voice laced with mirth.

"I need a favour," Sharon sweetly said. There was a hint of humour in her voice.

"Do you remember what happened the last time you asked me for a favour?" Brenda reminded her, still smiling[KY1] .

"I believe that's when our relationship status changed." Sharon was smiling too now. Brenda could hear it in her voice. She imagined the Captain sitting at her desk, in that big leather chair. Sharon's voice dropped a little, hinting that she very clearly remembered the moment Brenda was referring to. "And I ended up owing you."

"Just makin' sure you remember," Brenda purred. She crossed her legs, grateful she had chosen to wear pants instead of a skirt today because it meant she could sit far more comfortably in her chair. "Now, what can I do for you?"

There was a knock on her door and Brenda beckoned whoever was on the other side to come in. Andrea Hobbs entered and Brenda just gestured at the chair in front of her desk. The blonde DDA silently sat down, dropped her purse at her feet and crossed her legs.

"It's Rusty's birthday tomorrow and I ordered a cake but we've just rolled out and I don't know what time I'll get home tonight..."

"I'll pick it up after work," Brenda promised. She felt her cheeks flush a little when she saw Andrea's smirk. The DDA found pleasure in teasing Brenda at every available opportunity about dating the woman she had once loathed. "I'll see you at home."

"Thanks, Brenda. I owe you."

"And don't think I won't collect," Brenda suggestively answered before ending the call. She fixed her eyes on Andrea as she put down the phone and her brown eyes darkened a little. "Not. A. Word," she hissed. "Or I swear I'll personally see to it you're reassigned to Fraud."

"I don't want to know how Sharon repays you," Andrea grinned. "And I wouldn't risk being reassigned to Fraud. No soul lasts longer than a month over there."

Andrea reached into the purse at her feet and pulled out a stash of paperwork. It was neatly held together with a paperclip and she leaned in to hand them to Brenda. Her blue eyes briefly found the former Chief's brown. "I only came to drop these off. I ran into Mark Winslow at the courthouse and I thought I'd spare you the trip. Fritz has signed the papers."

"Finally," Brenda sighed in relief. This marked the ending of a rather unpleasant few months. "Thanks, Andrea."

"You're welcome." Andrea stood up and headed for the door. Just before leaving she turned around. There was a twinkle in her eye. "Have a good night, Brenda."

"Get out," Brenda laughed and the blonde DDA closed the door behind her.

Brenda left a little earlier than usual and stopped at the bakery on her way home to collect the cake. The box had Sharon's name on it. Brenda carried it to the car and made sure to drive safely, avoiding any bumps and unexpected turns until she got to the condo. She parked in the visitor's spot next to Sharon's car, rode the elevator to the third floor and knocked the door.

When it opened and revealed Sharon, Brenda smiled in surprise. She had expected Rusty. "Oh! You're home."

"I'm only passing through," Sharon answered as she finished buttoning up her shirt. "I just came from the morgue and..."

Brenda noticed Sharon's hair was wet and she could smell the shampoo. She guessed Sharon had witnessed the autopsy of her victim. "Change of clothes?"

Sharon nodded. "Yes." It was one of those moments where she needed to say nothing more because Brenda understood. She eyed up the box in Brenda's hands. "Is that it?"

"Yep. I do hope it's all still in one piece."

"Thanks for picking it up, Brenda."

Brenda followed Sharon to the kitchen and placed the box on the counter. She was so used to being at the condo. It was where she spent most of her time. Now that the divorce was final she was planning on moving out of the apartment she was renting and buying her own home. She'd settled for the first place she could find after leaving Fritz and the apartment was small, overpriced and in serious need of some TLC. She needed a place to go, somewhere that didn't remind her of the failures of her job and her marriage. A new house would be her fresh start. A place to call home.

Brenda switched on the kettle and got two mugs from the cupboard. She selected a couple pf teabags from Sharon's large collection and waited for the water to boil before adding it to the mug. She left the tea to brew for a little while, the herbal scent filling the kitchen, and when she turned around to give one of the mugs to Sharon, she found the older woman watching her with an endearing smile.

"I love it when you do that," Sharon said softly.

"What?"

Sharon tucked a damp strand of hair behind her ear and shyly looked away. "When you're comfortable."

Brenda smiled and Sharon smiled too and right in that moment, Brenda realised she didn't have to find another place to go.

She was already home.

Chapter Text

Sharon's back arched off the bed and beads of sweat glistened on her forehead as her fingers clutched the bedsheets. Her heart pounded in her chest and her eyes opened long enough to catch a glimpse of Brenda's head between her legs. Sharon trembled when she felt her lover's tongue circle over her clit, felt Brenda's slender fingers push against her entrance. She shamelessly parted her legs even further, offering herself completely to Brenda, and cried out when Brenda entered her.

Brenda curled her fingers, sliding effortlessly through Sharon's slick, molten wetness. She pressed the tip of her tongue against Sharon's clit, tasted the arousal and the sweet desire, and hummed in delight as she sucked the hard bundle of nerves into her mouth. Sharon's hand flew down to Brenda's hair, tangled itself in her curls.

"Oh God," Sharon moaned. "Yes…"

Brenda's left hand cupped Sharon's breast, felt the nipple instantly harden against her fingers. She dragged her tongue over Sharon's throbbing clit, pushed her fingers a little faster and deeper into her heat, and found that sweet spot she knew would always push Sharon over the edge. The way the brunette sucked in her breath and held it for a couple of seconds told Brenda that she had found it.

Sharon's mind was reeling and she rolled her hips in a frantic attempt to find the release she so desperately craved. When she felt the first warm tingling in the pit of her belly, she let her head fall back into the pillows and hooked one of her legs over Brenda's shoulders. Her heart pounded in her head and she could feel the blood rushing in her ears.

"Don's stop… Please…" She pleaded, her words barely coherent. "Oh…. Yes…."

Sharon shattered when Brenda fucked her a little harder and sucked a little faster on her clit. The raw outcry that came with her orgasm bounced off the bedroom walls and slowly faded into nothing as Sharon's chest rose and fell rapidly, her skin glistening in the weak light of the bedside lamp.

Brenda licked Sharon for as long as the brunette would let her and only stopped when Sharon nudged her away. She sat up on her knees, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and looked down at the glorious display in front of her; Sharon naked on the cream coloured bedsheets, momentarily unguarded.

It was the most beautiful thing Brenda had ever seen.

"Fuck….," Sharon sighed. Her green eyes lazily opened when she felt Brenda lay herself down beside her. The mattress dipped slightly under the added weight and she rolled onto her side so she could look at the blonde.

Brenda tenderly brushed a damp strand of hair out of Sharon's eyes and let her eyes wander over her lover's naked body. Sharon showed her age in places and her skin had started to lose its firmness. There were lines around her eyes and mouth. Brenda liked to call them laughing lines, no matter how much Sharon insisted they were the cruel reminders of time going by. Sharon's skin was covered with a fine dusting of freckles in some places. Her breasts were still firm and could easily give a twenty year old woman a run for her money.

The C-section scar just above her pubic bone was nothing more than a fine silver line now and Brenda had lost count of the amount of times she had traced it with her finger. The scar was a part of Sharon, just as the scar on her back where she had fallen when she was five or the mark on her shoulder where she'd been clipped by a bullet but had a lucky escape as a beat cop.

Sharon watched Brenda looking at her. A little while ago, maybe even only a month, she wouldn't have dared to let anyone see her like this; so unguarded and totally exposed. But here she was, in the golden glow of the bedroom light, with Brenda beside her, allowing a woman who had only recently entered her life again to see her in a way no one ever had truly seen her.

"You're the only one I trust to do this," Sharon said softly. Her voice drew Brenda's gaze back to her eyes.

"What's that?" Brenda whispered. Her fingertips lazily drew circles on Brenda's arms.

Sharon smiled. "See me."

Brenda leaned in to kiss her and Sharon's arms snaked around her back, pulling her closer. She smiled just before bringing their mouths together and whispered, "And I'll never get bored of seeing you."

They lay like this for a little while, their bodies tangled up together, and bedsheets softly touching their skin. The warmth of their bodies lulled them into a quiet slumber and the silence lasted until Brenda softly said. "Can I say something?"

Sharon's eyes lazily opened and she blinked. "Hmmm? What was that?"

Brenda let her fingers ghost over Sharon's cheek when she realised the brunette was near enough asleep. "It doesn't matter," she whispered. "It can wait till morning." She pressed her lips against the side of Sharon's head, inhaled her lover's scent. "Go back to sleep."

And Sharon drifted off in Brenda's arms.

When she woke she found the bed empty. The pillow still smelt of Brenda and the sheets were still warm. She sat up, wrapped the sheets around herself, and was about to swing her legs over the side of the bed when the door creaked and Brenda appeared. Blonde curls were tangled in a frenzied mess and she wore light blue pyjama pants and a white singlet top. She carried a mug in each hand and smiled when she saw Sharon was awake.

"Hi."

"Hey."

Sharon eyed up the mugs in Brenda's hands. "What's that?"

"Tea."

Brenda sat down on the bed next to Sharon and handed her the mug. Their eyes met and Sharon remembered. "What was it you wanted to tell me?"

"Hmm?" Brenda sipped from her tea. "What?"

"Last night. You wanted to tell me something. You said it could wait till morning," Sharon said. Green eyes searched Brenda's face.

Brenda, once again struck by just how bright Sharon's eyes were when not partially hidden behind her glasses, reached out a hand and touched the side of Sharon's face. "Because I wanted you to be awake when I said it."

Sharon arched an eyebrow. "Say what?"

"I love you."

Chapter Text

Sharon walked into the condo, took off her shoes and breathed a sigh of relief to no longer be trapped in a pair of killer heels. It was two in the morning and after rolling out at seven pm, she was glad to be home. Barefoot she padded into the living room and paused at the sideboard. The light on the answering machine was flashing and she pressed the 'play' button. She carried on into the kitchen as the machine played her pre-recorded message.

"You have reached Sharon Raydor. I'm sorry I can't take your call right now but if you leave your name and number after the beep, I'll call you back."

Beep.

"Sharon?"

Sharon froze at the sound of the familiar voice and turned around, almost expecting the owner of the voice to be standing behind her but the condo was empty and quiet.

"Figures you don't answer the phone. Are you screening your calls?"

Sharon's eyes fluttered shut as a sharp sting of pain settled in her chest. She clutched the wine glass she had taken from the cupboard a little tighter. The glass felt cold against her hand. The ache in her chest didn't subside and only grew stronger when the voice began speaking again.

"I probably shouldn't even be calling you but… Oh well, there are lots of things I shouldn't be doing and frankly, I don't give a damn anymore. I just wanted to say that you're a bitch, Sharon Raydor. A cold hearted bitch who doesn't give a damn about anyone else's feelings."

Sharon shuddered at the bitterness she heard in Brenda's words. It had been a while since she'd last spoken to the blonde former Chief. Not since the night that Sharon told her they couldn't carry on the way they had been for months. She was no longer prepared to be the other woman, she was no longer willing to be the lie Brenda chose to tell every single day. Sharon no longer wanted to be a secret. And a secret was all she was ever going to be to Brenda.

"Did you ever think about what it meant for me? What 'us' meant to me? You told me you loved me, Sharon. And then you fucking left. Who does that? Who tells someone they love them and then leaves? Did you get some kind of sick kick out of twisting the knife a little deeper? Because that's what you did to me, Sharon."

Sharon put down the glass and covered her face with her hands. The tears burnt behind her eyes and she was angry at herself for feeling this way. She had done her best to keep a distance from Brenda, had done the best she could not to think about her, not to allow any memories to catch her in those unguarded moments. She hadn't allowed herself to remember the nights of laughter and blind passion they had shared, the way Brenda's hand fitted so perfectly in hers or the way her hair smelt when she first got out of the shower in the morning.

"I love you, Sharon. I fucking hate myself for it now but it's true. It's slowly destroying me and it has done for a long time. I can't fucking think straight, Sharon. Every single damn thought is about you. What the hell are you even doing in my head? Why do I still let you be there? You're like a ghost… you just keep haunting me. And Fritzi…"

Sharon's breath hitched and she lifted her face out of her hands. It was obvious that Brenda was drunk. There were short pauses between her sentences, she was swearing and she was slurring her words a little but somehow everything she said still sounded clear as day.

"…Fritzi guessed. He guessed it was you. Sometimes I think he always knew it was you. So he's gone now. Don't know where. Florida or somethin'. And now there's just me in this mess and I'm sure you're doin' just fine out there on your own but I…. I fucking miss you and it hurts, Sharon. It hurts."

A single tear fell down Sharon's cheek.

"I won't be callin' you no more. I just wanted you to know… You were never just a secret. You were always more than that, you always will be. Cross my heart and hope to die… Fuck, that makes me sound like I'm eight but…. It's true. I love you, Sharon. Goodbye."

The line went dead and the sound of the dial tone echoed through the condo for a few seconds before the machine switched itself off.

Sharon felt sick. She slowly walked back into the living room and held still by the answering machine. The light was still flashing. Her finger hovered over the 'play' button again before moving to the button next to it. She felt like she was being torn apart, like someone had reached into her chest and ripped out her heart.

She pressed the button and the machine beeped before an automated voice said, ''Message deleted.'

Then Sharon sank down on the couch, pulled her knees up to her chest and cried.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

"I don't know why I even let myself be talked into this. I'm hardly known for my brains!"

Sharon wanted to counter that Brenda was actually known for her brains more than anything else but she knew better than to try and remind her of that when Brenda acted like this so instead she watched as an exasperated Brenda paced through the kitchen, hands on her hips and blonde curls bouncing around her head with every step. She'd walked through the door moments earlier and dropped her bag on the counter, kicked off her shoes and had huffed something that sounded an awful lot like, "Oh! That woman!"

Sharon had just smiled at those words because for once, they weren't aimed at her.

"Who does she even think she is suggestin' I do this?! I work for the DA's office. That don't mean I need to know everythin' there is to know about law! That's why they have lawyers!" Brenda raised her hands in mock surrender. "I don't even know how I'm gonna do this."

Sharon circled around the breakfast bar and softly placed a hand on Brenda's shoulder. Almost instantly the blonde stopped pacing and she turned around slowly, facing Sharon. The older woman could see the frustration on Brenda's face.

"I know you can do this," Sharon smiled. "I know how good you are."

Brenda shook her head. "I was never really good in school."

Sharon frowned. "Then how did you get into the CIA?"

"My charmin' wit and my good looks."

"Very funny, Brenda, but you and I both know that you were hired because you are a smart and intelligent woman, which is why I know you can do this," Sharon countered. "So enough with the talking yourself down, alright? I won't have it." She cupped Brenda's cheek with her hand. "And just so you know, I find brains attractive so you wouldn't be standing here if I didn't think you're intelligent."

"Now you're just bein' nice to me because you like the idea of me studyin' law," Brenda smirked. "You realise I'll be lecturin' you on everythin' once I'm finished, right?"

"You already do anyway." Sharon took a quick step back when Brenda playfully hit out at her. "And they don't want you to become a lawyer, Brenda. They just want you to go on a course and take an exam to broaden your knowledge about the law," Sharon reminded her. "I'm hardly going to find myself dating a lawyer." She grinned. "I have a bad track record there."

Brenda leaned against the counter and heaved a sigh. "It just feels like I'm settin' myself up to fail."

"You won't fail," Sharon reminded her. "I know you're nervous about trying; this whole new thing but it'll be good for you. Who knows what kind of opportunities this opens up for you? You said yourself you'd like to leave the DA's office. Maybe this is your ticket out."

Brenda chewed the inside of her cheek and looked up at Sharon. She had always felt Sharon was the one far more suited for anything related to the law than she was. Not only because she had once been married to a lawyer but because she had actually considered going to law school. Everything Brenda had done had always somehow landed in her lap whereas Sharon had deliberately followed a particular path in life, had set herself goals. Brenda had always just done whatever came her way but this pushed her out of her comfort zone.

And Brenda was rather set in her comfort zones.

"You can do this," Sharon reminded her again. "And I'll help you study."

"All you'll do is distract me," Brenda smiled as she leaned in to steal a kiss. Sharon's hands landed on Brenda's hips and she pulled her closer. "But I don't mind a little bit of distraction."

"No?" Sharon arched an eyebrow, her fingers creeping up under Brenda's shirt, ghosting over soft, warm skin. "And what kind of distraction do you like, exactly?"

Brenda took Sharon's hand and led her out of the kitchen towards the bedroom. She turned in the doorway, brown eyes sparkling.

"I'll show you."

Chapter Text

It shouldn't have come as a surprise that it had ended like this. It had seemed inevitable that Brenda would eventually cross paths with Philip Stroh in a way that would damage at least one of them. Sharon would just never have guessed that it involved Brenda shooting him in her kitchen before calling Sharon and asking for her help. Seeing Stroh carted off to the hospital with his wrists chained to the side of the stretcher felt strangely satisfying but the image that haunted Sharon the most was seeing Brenda sitting in the back of the ambulance, her hands and shirt covered in blood, and her ghostly pale face lit up by the red and blue flashing lights.

Never before had Brenda Leigh Johnson seemed so small.

Sharon had only been able to think of one thing she could do when the doctors gave Brenda the all clear and, with her arm wrapped around the blonde, Sharon had led her out of the Emergency Room and towards her car. Brenda's clothes had been taken for evidence and she wore a pair of light blue scrubs given to her by one of the nurses. The colour made her look even paler and the dark circles around her eyes had aged her by almost ten years. Sharon's heart ached at seeing the lost look in Brenda's eyes.

She'd held the door to the condo for her and Brenda had walked inside almost appearing skittish. Sharon had flicked on all of the lights, sensing that the darkness and shadows were not Brenda's friend right now, and she'd offered her some coffee. Brenda had accepted and climbed on one of the stools at the breakfast bar. From there she had watched Sharon move around the kitchen because Sharon could feel Brenda's eyes on her. When she eventually turned around, she was greeted by a tired and weary smile.

"When will Agent Howard be home?" Sharon asked, remembering Brenda telling her that her husband was in Washington for work.

"The earliest flight leaves Dulles tomorrow afternoon," Brenda answered as she gratefully accepted the mug Sharon offered her. The heat warmed her sore and tired hands. She felt the strain in her muscles after her fight with Stroh, had seen the bruises beginning to form when she had stripped off her bloodied clothes and put them into evidence bags.

Observing some of the dried blood on the side of Brenda's face, Sharon sighed. "Do you want to take a shower?"

"What happened to Rusty?" Brenda asked, her brown eyes seeking out Sharon's green.

"Social Services took over," Sharon explained. "He was fully checked at the hospital and the doctors treated his leg. He was placed with an emergency foster family where he will stay for the foreseeable future." She cocked her head. "You did a brave thing tonight, Brenda."

"I should've killed him," Brenda answered. Her voice was cool, almost emotionless.

Sharon knew she didn't mean it, at least not entirely. She leaned against the counter but was careful not to come too close. Brenda's adrenaline was still high and she didn't want to spook her. "What you did tonight means Philip Stroh will stand trial. It means he will go to prison for what he did." She put down her own coffee mug. "He will pay for his crimes because of you."

"This is Stroh. Nothing is ever easy or simple when it comes to him." Brenda's words carried a darkness Sharon had never heard before. "You watch, Sharon. That asshole will weasel himself out of this somehow the same way he's always done." She shook her head. "This ain't over."

"For tonight it is," Sharon interjected, causing Brenda to look up. "Because tonight Philip Stroh lies chained to a hospital bed with a police guard around him. He won't be able to hurt anyone else." When she felt sure Brenda wasn't going to reject her, Sharon covered the younger woman's hand with her own. Green eyes found brown, held them longer than what was strictly necessary. "For tonight it's over, Brenda."

Brenda cradled her head in her hands. The headache had been building since she pulled the trigger and ever since it had continued to grow. She could barely remember going through the FID interview with Sharon after they got to the hospital, didn't recognise most of the words in Sharon's handwritten statement as she placed her signature underneath. The world just seemed to have faded into some kind of blur that made little to no sense.

"Brenda, honey," Sharon softly said, rousing the blonde from her thoughts. "You should go shower." She didn't think Brenda was aware of the blood on her face and she didn't want to directly tell her. "It won't wash it away but it'll make you feel a little better." She straightened herself up. "Bathroom is down the hall. I'll go find you something to wear."

Without protesting Brenda slipped off the stool and followed Sharon down the hall to the bathroom. The door was slightly ajar and Sharon switched on the light before turning around. "There are some clean towels in the cupboard. Just throw the scrubs in the hamper."

Sharon quietly closed the door behind her and Brenda peeled the scratchy fabric away from her skin. Dropping the top in the hamper, she noticed the smudge of blood along the sleeve. She then took off the pants and dropped them on top of the shirt and eventually her panties and her bra. She stepped into the shower and switched it on, gasping when the warm water pounded down on her. She tilted her head back and let the flow rain down on her face; the water rinsed off the dried blood and the physical remnants of shooting Philip Stroh vanished down the drain.

Brenda used Sharon's shampoo, some expensive salon brand, to wash her hair, and then Sharon's shower gel to wash her skin. It felt like she was surrounded by Sharon, wrapped up in her scent, and Brenda's eyes fluttered shut as she let the sensation overwhelm her.

After switching off the shower, Brenda found the towels in the cupboard and wrapped one around herself whilst using the other to dry her hair. Wrapped up in the fluffy white towel, she stepped out of the bathroom and found the door to Sharon's bedroom open and the room brightly lit. She hesitated momentarily but then entered the room. Sharon sat on the end of the bed but looked up when she heard Brenda come in. She smiled and pointed at some simple grey sweats and a t-shirt.

"I'll leave you to it," she excused herself and headed for the door. Before leaving she turned around. "Brenda?"

"Yes?" Brenda was surprised by how comfortable she felt. She stood in front of Sharon in nothing more than a towel but she didn't feel self-conscious.

"Where will you go tonight?" Green eyes reflected worry.

"LA is full of hotels," Brenda answered. "It won't be the first time."

Sharon shook her head. "No. Not after tonight. You're not sleeping in a hotel." She saw the surprise etched across Brenda's face. "Stay over."

"I don't want to impose," Brenda objected.

"You're not imposing! I just…." Sharon smiled a little. "I just want to make sure you're alright. Besides, Agent Howard will never forgive me if I let you leave to stay in a hotel tonight." Her cheeks had reddened slightly. "Please. Stay."

Brenda nodded. "OK. Thank you, Sharon."

"I'll wait for you in the living room," Sharon said as she went to close the door. "And I think I have a bottle of Merlot somewhere. Maybe we can turn this night into something better after all."

Slipping the t-shirt Sharon had given her over her head and feeling even more surrounded by the brunette's smell, Brenda thought that the night had already improved. She was literally surrounded by Sharon.

She really didn't need anything else.

Chapter Text

There were things in life Sharon Raydor had never expected to happen and coming to home to find Brenda Leigh Johnson with her hair tied back in a messy bun wearing ripped jeans and a ratty t-shirt was one of them. Added to the fact that the house Sharon walked into was the house she and Brenda and Rusty shared together and it couldn't possibly be more out there but it was the truth and as ridiculous as it sounded, and looked, Sharon loved the new turn her life had taken.

She dropped the keys on the table by the front door where they kept all their keys, almost tripped over Brenda's discarded shoes in the middle of the hall because the blonde had once again not bothered to put them away after taking them off, and wandered into the living room to find Brenda balancing on a chair with a bright pink feather duster in her hand.

"What on Earth are you doing?!" Sharon giggled.

"Cleanin'," Brenda answered triumphantly. "What does it look like?"

"You don't want me to answer that," Sharon grinned.

She looked around. The room did look surprisingly tidy. Had Brenda mopped the floors? There wasn't even a single candy wrapper or newspaper on the coffee table. All she saw were Brenda's reading glasses on top of the coasters. The pillows looked like they had been plumped up too.

Brenda less than graciously jumped off the chair, nearly losing her balance when she landed, and she put the duster down before crossing the room. She pecked Sharon on the cheek and Sharon detected the faint scent of furniture polish on Brenda's clothes when the blonde walked away from her. She shook her head as she followed Brenda into the kitchen. Housework wasn't exactly Brenda's forte, Sharon had known that when they moved in together, and she'd gotten used to finding Brenda's pumps in the hall or under the table and her pyjamas on the bedroom floor.

"I did the dishes," Brenda announced when they walked into the kitchen and Sharon saw that she was telling the truth. The cereal bowls that had been left in the sink earlier that morning when three people all hurried out of the house to get to class and work on time had been washed and put back in the cupboard.

"What's brought this on?" Sharon curiously asked and she turned to look at Brenda. She smiled when she saw one of the blonde's crazy curls had freed itself from the bun and danced in front of her face. She gently tucked it behind Brenda's ear.

Brenda was blushing now. "I just wanted to do something nice."

"Cooking dinner is nice," Sharon chuckled. "This…" She pointed at the dirty t-shirt Brenda was wearing. "This is something else." Green eyes held brown. "What's going on?"

Brenda's face fell a little and she wiped her hand across her forehead before sighing. "I…" There was hesitation in her voice. "I guess I just didn't want you thinkin' I couldn't do it."

"Couldn't do what?" Sharon frowned. Suddenly she sensed that this was about something else entirely. Brenda had never been good at sharing her feelings the more conventional way, something Sharon had struggled to get used to. But now she knew Brenda better than anyone and it was easy to see through the blonde's little quirks. "What are you talking about, honey?"

"Fritz always said I made a lousy housewife," Brenda quietly admitted. "And I know I am nowhere near as good as my Mama but…" Brown eyes reflected something that made Sharon just want to hug Brenda. Her divorce from Fritz had been nasty because he'd turned it into a mudslinging match when Brenda had just been eager to move on.

"Oh honey," Sharon softly said, cupping Brenda's cheek. "How many times do I have to tell you that I love you just the way you are? So you leave your coffee mug in the sink every morning and I just almost broke my neck over your shoes…" She let her index finger slide down Brenda's cheek until it slipped under the younger woman's chin. "Don't feel you have to change who you are now that we're living together, Brenda Leigh."

"I know that," Brenda answered. "But sometimes I just feel that you can do…"

"Don't you dare finish that sentence," Sharon interrupted and shook her head. "That's it. Enough. No more cleaning." Her green eyes pierced into Brenda's. "Come on." The corners of her lips curled up into a smile as she glanced up at the clock on the kitchen wall. "I have a better idea."

Brenda arched an eyebrow, sensing the change in Sharon's tone. "Really?"

"It's Thursday…"

The penny dropped for Brenda and her eyes widened. "Rusty won't be home till nine so we have all night…."

"Yes, we do," Sharon said as her fingers closed around Brenda's wrist and she led her out of the kitchen and toward the stairs. "And there's something else we can do…"

"Is there now?" Brenda grinned.

"Oh yes," Sharon smiled. "And there's still a drought so you know what they say…. Shower together to save water."

Brenda laughed as she followed Sharon up the stairs. "I like the sound of that."

They reached the landing and wrapped up in each other's arms, kissing and laughing as they stumbled their way to the bathroom.

Chapter Text

Things were meant to end this way. It had been a long time coming and in one way, it felt like a relief to be walking away from it all. But on the other hand she still so desperately wanted to cling on… But Brenda knew that things were slipping through her fingers faster and faster and writing the goodbye letter she had just read out to the members of her division had only confirmed that. There was no way she could come back to this. Sometimes the only right thing to do was to leave.

Instead of taking the elevator down the lobby, Brenda pressed a different number and whilst biting into the Ding Dong, watched as the doors slid shut. The elevator started moving and only moments later the doors slid back open, revealing another corridor. She stepped out into the by now very familiar space and looked around for a moment before turning right and heading towards the glass double doors at the end of the hallway.

She swiped her key card, she would have to give it back to the security officer downstairs when she left the building, and the doors swung open revealing a bright and airy bullpen. Without thinking Brenda crossed the open space towards the office on the other end of the floor and felt a sense of relief when she saw the door was partly ajar. She tapped her knuckles against the doorframe and behind her desk, Sharon Raydor looked up.

"Hi," Brenda smiled.

"Brenda," Sharon sounded surprised and put down her pen. "Hi."

"May I come in?"

"Please," Sharon answered and gestured for Brenda to close the door behind her. She then watched as the blonde walked over to one of the chairs across from her desk and sat down. For a few moments neither of them spoke. The air between them was thick with things left unspoken and eventually it was Sharon who broke the silence.

"I'm so sorry it had to come to this."

"I would say I'm sorry too but I'm not sure that I am," Brenda admitted. "Maybe some things just naturally find their ending, one way or another." She looked at her hands, neatly folded in her lap and twisted her wedding ring around her finger. Then she peered up at Sharon through her eyelashes. "I came to say goodbye. And to say thank you."

"Brenda…"

"Please, don't," Brenda said softly, shaking her head at the interruption. "Let me finish. I probably will only get one chance at this and…" She swallowed. The lump in her throat was unexpected. She hadn't come here with the intention of getting emotional. "I don't want to leave here never havin' said the things I want to say."

"I just wanted to say thank you for everythin' you've done for me. I know I wasn't always appreciative of your efforts and for that I am truly sorry," Brenda continued. She looked up slowly and found Sharon looking back at her. Green eyes were intently studying Brenda's face. "I know it wasn't easy for you to do the things you had to do and… I want you to know that I truly appreciate the effort you put in to make things work out for me."

"You're a stubborn woman, Brenda. I think we can both agree on that," Sharon said slowly. "But like I said before, I think the secret of any good relationship comes down to the things you're prepared to overlook." She leaned in a little, resting her elbows on her desk. "You made mistakes, Brenda, but you were not bad at what you did. In fact, the LAPD is going to have one hell of a time finding someone to replace you."

Brenda smiled knowingly. "I wouldn't be too sure of that." She shifted in her seat. "There's somethin' else… Something I think we should have talked about some time ago and…."

Sharon's eyes fell shut when she realised where this conversation was going. "Oh Brenda…"

"About that night…"

"We said we were just going to forget about it," Sharon reminded the younger woman. "What we did…"

"Was a mistake, I know." Brenda sighed. Something felt heavy in her chest; the feeling of having held on to this for far too long. "For you."

"What?" Sharon's eyes snapped open again.

"It was a mistake for you." Brown eyes glanced at Sharon before looking away. She couldn't bear looking at the brunette because she knew that what she was about to confess, would change everything. "It wasn't for me."

"Brenda, maybe we shouldn't…" Sharon began but Brenda shook her head.

"I think I knew for quite some time that what I feel, is something completely different. I'm not sure if I just tried to deny it or not but that night… that night I knew. And I've known ever since." Brenda forced herself to look up at Sharon, to look into the green eyes that had both healed and broken her soul. "I love you, Sharon." The words rolled off her tongue so effortlessly, Brenda was a little surprised. "But I know that's not how you see me and today, for the first time, I realised it doesn't matter. It's ok. I'm ok. And leaving here…" Brenda wiped at the stray tear that slid down her cheek. "Is also leaving you and maybe that's why I feel this is the right thing."

"That's why you objected to the reprimand," Sharon concluded. She felt a sense of shock as the pieces slowly began to fall into place. It hadn't made sense to her that Brenda had so fiercely objected to the reprimand for attacking Stroh. It was minor compared to what could have happened. "You didn't want to come back."

"I think it's more a case of I can't come back," Brenda smiled sadly. "I always knew that this was just somethin' only I felt, Sharon. And I never expected it to become this…." She tried to find the right word but nothing came to her. "I just… I felt you had the right to know. More so than anyone else." She pushed herself out of the chair and started for the door, only turning around when she heard Sharon say her name.

"Wait," Sharon said as she circled around her desk and walked over to Brenda. She held still a couple of inches away from her. Just like the night where they had kissed each other, and eventually found themselves in a hotel room Sharon had paid for, the room filled itself with a tension they couldn't put into words.

"I should go," Brenda said softly. "I just wanted you to know that I really am grateful, Sharon." Brown eyes held green. "For everythin'."

"Are you ok?" Sharon asked before realising it was a stupid question.

Brenda nodded. "I will be. You didn't have to ask."

"I know," Sharon softly answered. "But I wanted to." She took a step closer towards Brenda and hesitated before leaning in and softly kissing the blonde on her cheek. "I'm sorry."

Brenda shook her head. "I'm not." She let her fingers ghost over Sharon's hand and then reached to open the door. "Goodbye, Sharon."

Chapter Text

Sharon walked down the by now so familiar corridors of the DA's office. Elevator to the fourth floor, first right, down the hall and second left and then the office at the end of the corridor. She could do it with her eyes closed if she needed to, having lost count of how many times she had made this particular trip. But today she walked with an urgency unlike any other day, her heels clicking against the lino, echoing through the nearly empty corridor.

Sharon's heart pounded in her chest and she clutched her phone in her hand. It had been ringing non-stop for the last hour with a variety of phone calls and an endless string of text messages. Most of them weren't even meant for her, they were meant for Brenda but no one could get hold of her. A quick call to the office had told Sharon Brenda had been in meetings all morning meaning her phone was switched off and when she reached Brenda's office, she remembered that Katherine, Brenda's secretary, was on vacation and the phone was unmanned.

The door leading to Brenda's office was closed and Sharon knocked, hoping to hear the other woman's voice on the other side and she sighed in relief when she did. She opened the door and found Brenda standing next to her desk gathering up a pile of paperwork and shoving it in her bag in her usual Brenda-style.

"Hi honey," Brenda smiled, taking a moment to turn around so she could kiss Sharon on the cheek. "I'm off to another meeting." She glanced at her watch. "Were we supposed to meet for lunch?" Brown eyes widened in horror. "Did I forget again?"

"No," Sharon answered. Her voice sounded a little hollow. "You didn't."

"Did you have to be here for work? I think Andrea is in court all day."

"I came here to see you," Sharon continued, still clutching the phone. It vibrated again. Another message popped up. The feeling of dread in her chest intensified and she tried to calm herself, tried to find a way to break the news to Brenda gently. Sharon sighed. "Brenda, listen to me for a moment…"

"Talk to me while I pack this," Brenda grinned. "I can multitask."

"I think you should look at me," Sharon said slowly and now Brenda turned around, her eyes fixing on the older woman. Sharon could see the questions flash through them, could almost hear the wheels in Brenda's head spin as she was trying to sense what was happening. The initial humour that had been etched across Brenda's face faded. Sharon knew Brenda now knew she wasn't here to deliver good news.

"What?" she asked, breathless. "What happened?"

"There has been an accident," Sharon slowly answered, realising she sounded like the professional version of herself who delivered bad news to a relative. In a way she was, Brenda was her family, but in this moment she wasn't a police officer, she was a lover and a friend. She took a shallow breath and then added, "It's Charlie."

"Oh my God, what happened?" Brenda wanted to know. Panic filled her voice. "Is she ok?"

"She's in surgery," Sharon explained. "Your brother called." She didn't specify which one. "He said he'd been trying to call you but couldn't get hold of you so I came here." She closed the distance between her and Brenda and wrapped her arms around the now shaking blonde. Sharon's mouth was close to Brenda's ear.

"They think it may have been a drunk driver running a red light. What saved Charlie's life was her seatbelt. She's in surgery and she'll be there a while still. She's quite badly injured." She reached for Brenda's hand. "The doctors did say they had np idea how bad the damage was until they operated on her. I wish I could tell you more but this is all I've got for now."

Brenda's eyes swam with tears. "I… I need to so see her. I need to book a flight…" She turned around towards her desk but Sharon took her arm and stopped her. Green eyes found brown.

"I bought you a ticket," she said softly, her thumb drawing little circles over Brenda's hand. She felt the tension slowly drain from Brenda's fingers. "Your light leaves LAX in four hours."

"Oh Sharon..."

"I've packed your case. It's in the car. Right next to mine."

Brenda looked up, surprised. "What?"

"I'm not leaving you to handle this on your own. I'm coming with you," Sharon reassured the younger woman. "We're in this together, Brenda, and I'm going to be right there beside you when you need me."

Brenda nodded. "I love you."

"I know you do," Sharon softly answered. "I love you too." She smiled a little and then checked the paperwork on Brenda's desk. "Let's get this sorted out and then we'll leave for the airport. I want Charlie to see your face when she wakes up."

Brenda laced her fingers through Sharon's. "Thanks to you, she will."

Chapter Text

She felt absolutely rotten. The cold chills, the thumping headache and the horrific nausea had knocked her about and Sharon lay curled up on her side in bed, the covers pulled up to her chin. Every so often she would kick off the sheets when she felt hot only to yank them back up moments later once she became cold again. It had been years since she'd been sick. Sure, she'd had a cold but this…this was Andy Flynn's fault and Sharon had vowed that if the flu didn't kill him, she would.

It had started with just the signs of a cold but it had quickly turned into full blown flu, complete with aching bones. Her fever had spiked a few hours earlier and had left her almost delirious but now it had come down a little, she felt a little less worse for wear. But the cold chills kept ripping through her and in the darkness of her bedroom, Sharon just wished for it to end.

The door to the bedroom opened slightly and a faint beam of light fell across the bedroom floor. The door opened further then and Brenda padded into the bedroom. She was barefoot and wore black yoga pants and one of Sharon's button down shirts and had tied her hair into a ponytail. Her reading glasses perched on her head, tucked into her curls. In her hand Brenda held a mug and she carefully placed it on the nightstand. The faint smell of herbal tea filled the bedroom. She then perched herself on the end of the bed and softly touched Sharon's forehead. Concern flickered behind her dark brown eyes.

"You're warm," Brenda said softly when she felt Sharon's hot clammy skin against her hands. She brushed some damp hair out of Sharon's eyes and then let her hand slide down to Sharon's; shoulder. The touch was feather light and loving.

"You're going to get sick too," Sharon muttered, her eyes still closed. "You should go."

"And leave you? Sharon, honey, I ain't goin' anywhere," Brenda shushed. "Besides, I've been here all day. I've probably already got what you have anyway."

Sharon tried to turn her head to look at her girlfriend but her stomach turned and she retched, then gagged. An hour ago she'd been sick; the first time since having been pregnant with Emily. Even after brushing her teeth, Sharon could still taste the sourness and now the world began to spin and she recognised the distinct feeling of her stomach turning.

Brenda got up when Sharon kicked the covers off and the brunette rushed across the bedroom before landing on her knees next to the toilet bowl. Sharon retched again and then vomited. Her stomach clenched and tightened and then the next wave came. She desperately tried to catch her breath and her eyes watered. Her body trembled and only stopped when she felt Brenda's fingers in the back of her neck as the blonde held back her hair.

Sharon leaned back into Brenda as the painful churning of her stomach stopped. She felt dizzy and light headed and sighed when she felt Brenda draw small circles on her back. She took a couple of deep breathes and then she stood up, somewhat unsteady, and switched on the tap. She brushed her teeth and washed her face and when she looked up into the mirror, she found Brenda watching her.

"Come," Brenda said softly and extended her hand. Sharon took it and Brenda guided her out of the bathroom and back to bed. Sharon wore only a t-shirt and a pair of panties and bloodshot green eyes glanced up at Brenda as she crawled back into bed. There were dark circles under her eyes and she was pale as a ghost.

"Try and drink some tea," Brenda encouraged before circling the bed and crawling under the sheets next to Sharon.

Sharon glanced at the mug but couldn't find the strength in herself to push up and take it. Instead she sunk back down into the pillows and released her breath. Brenda's arm snaked around Sharon's waist and she pulled the brunette a little closer to her. Sharon shivered, suddenly feeling cold again, and she relaxed a little when she became aware of Brenda's lithe body pressed against her own.

Her body aching and her eyes heavy, Sharon sighed and in Brenda's arms, she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Did she really have to wear pencil skirts that were so tight Brenda could see the perfectly round shape of Sharon's behind through the grey fabric? She let her eyes linger on the luscious curves for a moment longer before trailing her eyes down those impossibly long, gorgeous legs. Sharon wore those black stiletto heels Brenda liked so much and she had to stop herself from licking her lips at the thought of what Sharon would look like wearing nothing but those shoes.

She had done this many times before; shamelessly watching the FID Captain as she walked around the Murder Room. Normally Brenda was a little less obvious but she felt daring today and Sharon did look particularly good in her grey pencil skirt and dark red silk button down that revealed a hint of cleavage whenever she leaned over a desk. Brenda couldn't help but wonder what colour Sharon's underwear was.

She fantasised about taking Sharon's underwear off about as often as she fantasised about kissing her and running her fingers through those thick, brown locks. Brenda had imagined kissing Sharon in the middle of the Murder Room or an interview room, she had fantasised about taking her on a desk or in a car. She wondered what Sharon sounded like when someone touched her intimately and Brenda couldn't stop thinking about it. She wanted to touch Sharon.

What had started as a simple crush had grown into an infatuation of epic proportions that was now influencing every aspect of Brenda's life. Most of her thoughts were preoccupied with Sharon and Brenda was pretty sure she had a new found obsession; one that she didn't want to give up. She liked the thrill and she liked the state it put her body in. It was as if she was permanently high. If Sharon Raydor was a drug then Brenda was an addict and she had no intention of ever getting clean.

"Chief Johnson, is there a reason why you've been staring at me for the last five minutes?"

Brenda snapped back into reality instantly and felt her cheeks turn red when she became aware of Sharon's bright green eyes fixed on her. She shifted in her seat, acutely aware of the twitching feeling she felt between her thighs as she did so, and folded her hands in her lap. She managed to steady herself long enough to answer and looked up, brown eyes open wide with confidence. She met Sharon's green orbs and held them.

"No," she said, her voice cool. There was a faint hint of something else in her voice. The hint of a challenge. The tip of her tongue wet her lips. "No reason."

Brenda could have sworn she saw a hint of disappointment flash through Sharon's eyes before the brunette nodded, readjusted her glasses and turned back around. She was standing by Tao's desk and Brenda watched how Sharon placed her hands on the cool metal surface and leaned in a little. The fabric of her skirt tightened even more and Brenda's heart pounded in the back of her throat. The dampness between her legs only increased.

Ten minutes later, ten of the most uncomfortable minutes Brenda had ever spent on a chair, and the meeting was over. Brenda hadn't heard a word Gabriel had said about the finances and the Terrorist Division or anything else for that matter. But she did remember just how amazing Sharon's ass had looked in that skirt. Her head felt heavy and she swayed a little when she walked towards the ladies' room. Closing the door behind her, she found Sharon standing by the sink and their eyes met in the mirror. Something shifted in the air.

"Hello," Sharon smiled.

Brenda swallowed. "Hi."

"I think you and I need to talk," Sharon said softly and turned off the tap before turning around to face Brenda.

"Do we?" Brenda squeaked. "Why?"

Sharon smiled knowingly as her eyes lingered on Brenda. "No reason," she smiled as she watched Brenda move a little closer. "No reason at all."

Chapter Text

This was just sex. Nothing more, nothing less. Neither of them wanted to be in a relationship but they both craved the physical presence of another person from time to time. A warm body to wrap around and chase away the loneliness and the demons of their work. A soft voice that sometimes whispered good morning or goodnight before leaving, someone who made coffee on their way out. But not someone they shared their days with, or went on dates with. They would go their own way and not talk about anything else. They were each other's comfort, safety and shelter. Wrapped up in each other, the shadows of the night felt a little less daunting. And sometimes it was just nice not to be alone.

That was the way Brenda reflected on her relationship with Sharon. They would sleep together once or twice a week and that was it. No strings attached. They didn't see each other outside those moments. It wasn't the kind of arrangement either woman was used to – and certainly not one Sharon was proud of – but to look at anything beyond their moments together was simply terrifying.

Brenda looked at the dark haired woman asleep beside her. Sharon looked peaceful in the early morning sunlight, strands of hair falling in her eyes. Their clothes lay discarded on Brenda's bedroom floor, Sharon's panties at the end of the bed. The sheets barely covered her naked body and Brenda, like so many other times before, couldn't help but admire the view. Sharon was truly gorgeous and she couldn't deny the pang of longing she sometimes felt when she watched her get dresses before leaving. Sometimes Brenda wanted her to stay.

She lazily trailed her hand across Sharon's stomach. Her skin was warm and soft and would probably taste of a mixture of salt and sex. Brenda moved a little closer and pressed her lips against Sharon's shoulder. She observed the faint fluttering in Sharon's eyelids and smiled against the warm flesh before leaving another kiss, this time closer to Sharon's collarbone. The slight twitch in Sharon's hand that lay close to Brenda betrayed that the older woman was awake but Sharon's eyes remained closed.

Brenda let the tip of her tongue trail from Sharon's collarbone up along the length of her neck until she reached the soft little spot just below her ear. Sharon sighed and arched her back slightly. Brenda's hand, fingers splayed out across Sharon's abdomen, dipped a little lower and she could already feel the lingering heat from the night before.

"Hey," Brenda breathed into Sharon's ear and let the fingers of her other hand dance across her lover's face, gently tucking the hair behind her ear.

Sharon didn't open her eyes but she smiled and Brenda softly kissed her. Sharon eagerly answered the kiss and parted her lips, inviting Brenda inside. Brenda couldn't help but groan a little when she felt Sharon's warm tongue against her own and kissed her deeply. Sharon reached up, tangling her fingers in Brenda's wild curls, and pulled her closer until their bodies were pressed against each other.

Never breaking the kiss, Brenda slid her hand between Sharon's thighs and found her as wet as the previous night. Sharon willingly spread her legs a little to give Brenda more room and groaned into the kiss when Brenda teased her with her index finger before slowly and softly sliding inside. Brenda whimpered when Sharon's teeth sank into her lower lip but the jolt of pain was intoxicating too.

Sharon tilted her hips a little when Brenda's thumb grazed over her clit and her breath hitched. Brenda's left hand gently cupped Sharon's breast and she felt the nipple harden underneath her touch. Sharon's eyes were still closed and she kissed Brenda even more furiously as the blonde slowly pumped her finger in and out of her lover, increasing her pace and pressure with every gentle thrust. Sharon's arousal coated her fingers and Brenda loved it.

Sharon scraped her nails across Brenda's shoulder, drawing a delighted moan from the blonde's lips. She pulled away from the kiss and lowered her head until she captured Sharon's hard nipple between her lips. She circled her tongue over it, flicking it gently, and Sharon let her head fall back, her mouth open and moaning softly in rhythm with Brenda's thrusts.

"Oh…." Sharon cried when Brenda pressed her thumb against her clit and circled it. Her hips bucked up, seeking a little more friction, and Brenda moved her mouth to Sharon's other breast, kissing and licking as much of her lover's glowing warm skin as she could find. She would never be able to get enough of Sharon. She was like a drug and Brenda was addicted. She cupped the breast she had just left with her free hand and softly bit down on the swollen nipple on the other.

"Brenda… please….."

Those two words…. Brenda would never get tired of hearing them. She had found out that she had a way of making Sharon Raydor come undone, a way to see beyond the mask of the calm and collected Captain, and the woman she saw so open and exposed every time they shared the bed together, was the most beautiful creature Brenda had ever seen.

Brenda steadily increased her pressure and her speed, pumping harder and faster, and Sharon's breaths became more laboured. Brenda recognised the familiar sounds; the way Sharon's breath caught in the back of her throat, the way her fingers dug into the bedsheets and her eyes were closed tight.

"Oh God…. Yes… please…" Sharon's voice was but a hoarse whisper now.

She relished in the feeling of Brenda's touch. The blonde made her feel things she had never felt before; in a way Brenda got under her skin unlike anyone else had ever done. Her heart pounded in her throat as the familiar tingling feeling in the depths of her stomach grew stronger until they reached their peak and Sharon cried out when she hit her orgasm. Her hand shot out, grabbing Brenda's wrist and stilling it, keeping it in place as her hips rocked and she rode out the waves of her climax.

Smiling, Brenda leaned in and kissed Sharon softly on the corner of her mouth. She softly brushed damp strands of hair out of her lover's eyes and for the first time that morning, Sharon's eyes opened and she looked up at Brenda. Brenda lost herself in those stunning green depths and when Sharon smiled, her stomach did a double flip. She cupped Sharon's cheek.

"Good morning."

"Hmmm," Sharon sighed. "It sure is."

The comfortable silence between them, Sharon still drifting somewhere in the bliss of her orgasm, was disrupted by the sound of Sharon's phone ringing. She sat up and didn't bother to cover herself. She slipped out of bed and found her phone on the floor underneath her skirt. The caller ID flashed Lt Provenza and she knew without answering that it was a call out.

"Lieutenant," Sharon said and she turned around to face Brenda.

The blonde lay sprawled out in the bed, the sheets only covering her legs. Her rosy nipples were hard and Brenda's breasts looked amazing. In the faint morning sunlight her face looked peaceful but Sharon recognised the look in her eyes. It was the look of a woman who understood what kind of call Sharon was taking right now and who understood she would have to leave.

She always had to leave.

"Text me the address and I'll meet you there," Sharon said. She hung up and sighed.

Brenda looked at her. "Homicide?"

"Looks that way, yes."

"You should go."

"I know…" But Sharon made no effort to pick up her clothes. For the first time she didn't feel the urge to leave. She wanted to stay. She swallowed. "I was thinking…."

"Do you maybe want to go for dinner tonight?" Brenda blurted out. The question had been bouncing around in her head for a couple of weeks but she'd been too hesitant to ask, afraid Sharon would say no and the relationship they had would change.

"I… I have plans," Sharon quietly answered and she watched how Brenda's face fell. She crossed the room back to the bed and sat down, found Brenda's hand under the sheets. "But I'll meet you halfway." Green eyes found brown. "Lunch?"

Brenda smiled. "I'd like that."

"Ok."

Sharon stood up and began gathering her clothes. She would need to go home and get clean clothes and it would delay her arrival at the crime scene but right bow, she didn't care. She got dressed and slipped her feet back into her high heels and then turned back to the bed. Brenda was still watching her but had pulled the sheets up now, covering herself.

Sharon leaned in and quickly kissed Brenda chastely on the lips. "I'll see you later?"

Brenda nodded. "Yes, you will. Have a good day. Bye."

"Bye."

When she closed Brenda's front door behind her, Sharon knew that when she would meet Brenda later that day, everything was going to change. They had taken the next step. And she felt happy.

Chapter Text

Critical Missing cases always came with a particular kind of feeling. A feeling of dread, of fear and of sadness. A missing child was every parent's worst nightmare but, as it turned out, the family Sharon was investigating felt a little different about that. The man and woman currently sitting in two separate interview rooms talking to her detectives were the worst kind of parents she had come across in a long time and she struggled to let go of her anger and resentment. Neither the man nor the woman had noticed that their fourteen year old son had been selling himself on the street. They were either too high or too drunk to care and it was only when a teacher raised the alarm that the police became involved. The boy had been gone for as long as sixteen hours and time was running out.

"Captain?"

She turned around at the sound of Fritz Howard's voice. SOB had offered their help and she and Chief Howard were running the investigation together. Thanks to Fritz's former FBI involvement they had gotten all the help they could get and Sharon was grateful for the assistance and support.

"Anything new?" Fritz asked as he let his eyes trail over the Murder Board.

Sharon shook her head. "Nothing."

"I may have someone who can help," Fritz carefully suggested and Sharon cast him a sideways glace. Fritz had aged well, she thought. It had been almost five years since she took over Major Crimes and still Sharon had to get used to seeing him in uniform instead of a suit and tie. She didn't think that was ever going to change.

"Oh?"

"Brenda's back in town."

Sharon raised her eyebrows. "Well that's news to me."

"I only heard this morning. Apparently she's been back for a couple of weeks." Fritz heaved a sigh. His divorce from Brenda Leigh Johnson had been fodder for the rumour mill in Parker Centre and Sharon had felt sorry for him. The decision had been mutual but people in the building still seemed more loyal to Brenda than they were to him, even after all these years.

"She should be here any minute. Apparently Taylor roped her in to help. I think she's working for the FBI now," Fritz commented. "I thought I'd give you a heads up."

Sharon nodded. "Thank you."

The words had barely died out when the sound of high heels approaching made her look up. Brenda Leigh Johnson walked into the Murder Room, her blonde curls an untameable mess and clad in an elegant black dress that reached to her knees. Her trusted tote hung over her shoulder and a pair of sunglasses balanced precariously on her head. Her reading glasses had been tucked into her dress and she froze for a second when she saw Sharon and Fritz.

"Hi," Fritz said and Sharon detected the nerves in his voice. "Brenda…"

"Fritz," Brenda greeted him in return. She sounded a little reserved. Her eyes then drifted to Sharon. "Sharon."

"It's good to see you, Brenda," Sharon smiled. "Chief Howard says you're here to help?"

"I'll leave you two to work things out. You know where to find me if you need anything," Fritz said to Sharon and left the Murder Room. Almost instantly the tension subsided and Brenda took a deep breath, then smiled.

"Well, that wasn't awkward at all."

"Can you blame him?" Sharon retorted. "He didn't know you were back until today."

Brenda eyed Sharon up. "You didn't tell him?"

"You told me not to so I didn't," Sharon answered. "You could have texted to let me know you were coming in."

"And have you throw me a surprise party? I don't think so." Brenda shook her head and turned to the board. "My bosses filled me in a couple of hours ago so I'm up to speed. What are we looking at?"

"I'm beginning to think along the lines of kidnapping instead of a runaway," Sharon mused. She leant over Provenza's desk and picked up three more files. She pulled out three pictures and hung them next to the picture of their missing boy. Four sets of eyes, all still way too young, now looked back at her and Sharon felt a pang of sadness.

"Three more boys went missing in the weeks leading up to Daniel's disappearance. All were vulnerable. Underachievers in school, a couple of minor drug arrests. All boys spent a lot of time on the streets. Amy and Mike are collecting their cell phone records right now. They don't seem to be connected other than by the fact their family lives were not great."

"Which made them high risk, easy targets," Brenda concluded. She studied the pictures a little more closely. "Serial?"

"You tell me. You're the one now working with the Behavioural Science Unit," Sharon answered and looked at Brenda over the rim of her glasses. "How is that working out for you?"

"They're all a bunch of geeks and they don't know what do with a woman in charge but I'll straighten them out," Brenda smirked. "Do we have last known whereabouts for all these boys?"

Sharon checked the paperwork before picking up a red marker and drawing four small circles on the map of Los Angeles next to the headshots. She wasn't surprised to find all their last known locations were on or near Sunset Boulevard. It was a well-known hangout for street workers. It wouldn't be hard for a perpetrator to find a high risk victim in that area, especially at night.

Sharon turned to look at Brenda. "What's your guess?"

Brenda's eyes narrowed. "All I can do right now is give the most basic profile. Male, probably in his thirties. Whatever he does with these boys, he keeps them or disposes of them somewhere where they haven't been found yet. And he isn't short of places like that around here." She turned to look at Sharon. "I know where your mind is going."

"Don't tell me yours hasn't," Sharon answered and Brenda nodded. "This area isn't too far from where Rusty picked up his last client on the night he crossed paths with Stroh. I don't think about it often but when I see these boys…" She looked at the four lost boys on her board. It was hard not to imagine Rusty, even if he was now doing so much better than he was back then. "I can't help it."

"I know," Brenda said and put her hand on Sharon's lower back.

The touch startled both of them a little and Sharon's eyes found Brenda's. Neither of them said anything. A look said more than any words ever could. Silent words hung between them, a conversation shared only by their eyes. Brenda's gaze dropped to Sharon's lips the way they had done so many times before. She still remembered how they felt, how they tasted… even after all these years.

"Stop," Sharon said softly and averted her eyes. Pain was etched across her face. "Please."

"Sorry," Brenda apologised and pulled her hand back. Before she had a chance to say something else, Sharon had caught her wrist and they both looked down at their linked hands. The last time their fingers had laced together like this, Brenda had woken up to see the morning sunlight kiss Sharon's auburn hair for the last time. The day they decided their relationship, their affair, had to end.

It had been five years.

It might as well have been yesterday.

"I've missed you," Sharon confessed softly and her thumb traced circles over the back of Brenda's hand. They'd stood like this before, alone in the Murder Room, in a quiet stolen moment where they found some comfort with each other. "I'm glad you're here."

Brenda's eyes fluttered shut under Sharon's soft touch and sighed. "I've missed you too, Sharon."

"Hey Chief!" Mike Tao's voice belted across the Murder Room and Sharon took a step back. Her hand slipped out of Brenda's and the two women effortlessly slipped back into their professional roles, their minor indiscretion quickly erased. Brenda spun on her heel and hugged the Lieutenant when he reached her.

"Good to see you, Mike," she said with a smile when she let go of him and patted him on the shoulder. "Although I wish the circumstances were less sad. How's Kevin?"

"Great. Can't believe he's going to graduate college soon."

"Do you have the phone records?" Sharon wanted to know and watched as behind Mike, Amy picked up another marker pen, approached the board and drew a black circle a few miles away from where their four boys had been last seen.

"All their cell phones pinged on the same tower before going off the grid," she said and prodded her index finger against the circle. Determined dark brown eyes focused on Sharon. "Right here."

"Your suspect probably lives in that area or this is where he takes his victims," Brenda stated. She turned to look at Mike. "I want as many pictures of the surrounding area as possible. Buildings, houses, anything. Start canvassing the neighbourhood."

Mike nodded and he and Amy left the Murder Room together. Sharon turned back to the Murder Board and shivered.

"Cold?" Brenda asked softly and the older woman nodded. The blonde moved a little closer until their hips touched. A rush of heat coursed through Brenda's body.

"My blazer is in my office," Sharon said without taking her eyes off the board.

Brenda reached down and pulled something out of her tote. She gently nudged Sharon. "Take mine."

To her surprise, Sharon found Brenda handing her the oatmeal coloured cardigan she had seen the blonde wear on several occasions. She'd always thought it was damn ugly but Brenda had seemed rather fond of it. How had she even managed to hold on to it for the last five years? It hadn't faded or worn out at all. She flashed a smile.

"You still have this?" she asked as she slipped the cardigan over her white blouse and tied it in front of her. It was a bit bigger on her than it was on Brenda and the scent of the other woman's perfume filled her nose.

Brenda's eyes lingered on Sharon, struck by the image of the brunette wearing the cardigan. "Some things I just can't part with." She took a deep breath. "So where do we go from here?"

"There is only one place I can think of," Sharon said, her eyes darkening as she stared at the four pictures and the map spread across the murder board.

"Where's that?" Brenda asked. The brunette turned slightly and their eyes met. Sharon's emerald orbs had darkened to a shade of green Brenda had never seen before. She pointed at the black circle on the map.

"Where the bad men go."

Chapter Text

Brenda Leigh Johnson wasn't exactly known for her ability to share. Even as a child she had never been good at it. She wouldn't let other children play with her toys and often even claimed her brother's cars and trucks as her own. As she grew older, that trait had grown too. She hadn't liked having to share Will Pope with his wife but she was also too selfish to give him up. Well, until the time came when she did of course. She wasn't exactly ashamed to be the selfish type, though often she was oblivious to it even when people pointed it out to her. She just had a different way of looking at things, Brenda thought.

So having to share cases, resources and information wasn't something Brenda enjoyed. In fact, she loathed it. Unless she benefited from it herself of course because then it became useful. But she most certainly didn't like having to hand stuff over so that someone else could solve their case or, worse, take the credit for her hard work.

The fact she found herself standing across from one Captain Sharon Raydor this rainy Monday morning before nine am already irritated her to no end. The fact that Will Pope had called for this meeting and had summoned Brenda to his office only made it worse. Plus she'd gotten wet walking from her house to her car and her hair was falling down her shoulders in messy strands of damp curls and there was a wet patch on her pink skirt that she'd tried to cover by placing the folder she carried in her lap.

From the corner of her eye she sized up Sharon Raydor. Head of FID, most likely one of the most disliked people in this whole building, the brunette Captain looked every bit as perfect as Brenda looked dishevelled. The contrast between them was unmistakeable. Sharon's brown locks were brushed neatly into place and fell wavy down her shoulders. Her black pinstriped suit didn't have a single crease or stain and her black stiletto heeled shoes looked so shiny, Brenda was convinced Sharon had polished them that morning. Ten years her senior, Sharon still looked formidable and Brenda was briefly drawn to those intense green eyes. Green eyes she knew would flare up the minute she defied Sharon's wishes in a way that would always leave Brenda feeling a little strange.

"Chief Johnson, Captain Raydor here tells me that there is a possible overlap between your double homicide and an ongoing FID investigation. Not to mention that Lieutenant Flynn fired his weapon at a suspect yesterday and has so far avoided his mandatory FID interview."

Brenda opened her mouth to speak. She'd learned to think before letting the words fall out whenever she was around Sharon Raydor and those two extra seconds she bought herself were all she needed. "I don't need to remind anyone that durin' the course of this altercation with the suspect, Lieutenant Flynn suffered head injuries and needed to be kept for observation in hospital overnight?" She glanced at her watch. "He should be released this mornin'."

"Two of my officers as well as myself went down to the hospital to speak to Lieutenant Flynn," Raydor interjected. "He refused to talk."

"Can't imagine why," Brenda muttered and she looked up to meet Sharon's gaze. Those piercing green eyes looked straight through her, to some part of Brenda she had lost touch with a long time ago, and she felt something coil in the pit of her stomach. She looked down, back at her hands where her sparkling wedding ring glistened in the bright light of Will Pope's office. A hot flush rushed up her cheeks. "I'll see to it he becomes available once he is released from the hospital, Capt'n."

"Thank you, Chief Johnson," Sharon replied, her voice soft and almost delicate. "I know Lieutenant Flynn got the rough end of the stick yesterday. I am not doing this to pester him or you but he did fire his weapon. See it as a way of me trying to make sure nothing worse happens."

"And with Lieutenant Flynn's reputation, I couldn't agree more with the Captain," Pope chimed in. He sank down into his oversized leather chair and folded his hands on the desk. "Now, about the case overlap. Chief Johnson, do you or do you not have files that could help Captain Raydor in her investigation?"

Brenda begrudgingly looked down at the folder in her lap. She knew her investigation would help Sharon but giving over the information almost felt as frustrating as when she was six years old and being told by her Mama that she had to share the last piece of chocolate cake with her brothers. Slowly she looked up, avoiding looking at Pope and she fixed her eyes on Sharon instead. The brunette was leaning back slightly in her chair now. She had uncrossed her legs and unfolded her arms. Her toes were pointing at Brenda and so were her knees. Her shoulders were relaxed and everything about her body language screamed that she was open and inviting to Brenda. The blonde swallowed hard before taking the file and giving it to Sharon. The shock of electricity that coursed through Brenda's hand when her fingers brushed against Sharon's startled her but she didn't show it.

Instead, something else took over. Something a little more daring. Something altogether… Brenda didn't have a word for it. But her brown eyes held Sharon's green ones and for once she didn't seek for them to be blazing with anger. She liked them like this; soft and kind, with amazing warmth. Her lips curled up into a smile.

"We can share," she said and Sharon arched an eyebrow in surprise but then smiled in return. Something changed in her demeanour and for a second Brenda saw something in those emerald eyes she had not seen before. Something other than anger or kindness. A flicker of something… something that could only be described as hunger.

"I'm sure we can, Chief Johnson," Raydor said as she stood up and started for the door.

Brenda shamelessly followed Sharon with her eyes, her gaze lingering a moment too long on the curve of her hips in the tailored pants she wore before lowering further and focusing on the shape of Sharon's behind.

Sharon turned around in the doorway and caught Brenda's gaze. "I look forward to sharing more in the future, Chief Johnson."

With that, Sharon closed the door and Brenda realised she'd been holding her breath. Her heart pounded in her chest and without looking back at Pope, she stood up, rushed to the door and when she stepped out into the hallway she watched Sharon disappear around the corner.

And in that moment Brenda realised she wanted to share a whole lot more with Sharon Raydor than just the occasional file.

Chapter Text

Working late was part of being a cop. Brenda had learned that lesson many years ago and it was now second nature. This week alone she had spent three long nights in her office surrounded by case files and, in one case, the dreaded annual performance reviews of her detectives. Tonight was another late night and besides the usual paperwork she was now also surrounded by Ding Dong wrappers, two empty cans of Coke and a packet of Twizzlers she had just opened. It wasn't much of a dinner but she couldn't be bothered to walk to the Chinese a block away to actually get something more substantial.

She tapped her pen against her desk as she scanned the papers in front of her, her reading glasses balancing on the tip of her nose. These performance reviews were going to be the death of her and what the hell was she going to write about her detectives? They were all good at their jobs and although some could use a little improvement in other areas, Brenda genuinely adored the team of people she had around her, even if she didn't always make it all that clear to them.

The soft knock on her door made her look up. The unexpected guest let themselves in before she could say anything and in the light of the small lamp on her desk, Brenda watched as Sharon closed the door behind her and turned back to look at her.

"I was just thinking about you," Brenda smiled as she leaned back in her chair. She dropped the pen and let her eyes trail over Sharon's slender frame.

She wore that purple jacket Brenda liked so much. Combined with a white silk blouse and black pencil skirt, Sharon looked like she had walked straight out of a fashion magazine. Brenda had no idea how the brunette managed to look this good after a twelve hour day.

"Were you now?" Sharon asked as she walked over to the desk and perched herself on the end. She glanced at the paperwork. "Well, I can see why…"

"What are you doin' here?" Brenda asked softly. Her eyes fluttered shut when Sharon tucked a strand of stray blonde hair behind her ear and she eagerly leant in to the other woman's touch. She had missed this.

It had been going on for months now. Something had driven them into each other's arms, something Brenda hadn't dared to define as anything other than lust, even if she knew it wasn't. Because it was no longer about lust. It was comfort and warmth and shelter they found in each other. It was no longer just sex, no matter how mind-blowing it was. It was more than that. It had become more than that when secret quickies in the back of a car or a locked up office had turned into long evenings in Sharon's condo or a hotel room somewhere in the city. It had become more when they shared dinner and breakfast, went on dates and walked hand-in-hand along the beach. What had started as a dirty little secret affair had become, in a way at least, the healthiest relationship Brenda had ever had.

But she was still married.

"I've missed you," Sharon whispered into Brenda's ear as she moved closer before carefully straddling the blonde in her office chair. Brenda's arms eagerly wrapped themselves around Sharon's waist and pulled her closer. Her body responded with almost instant arousal. The effect Sharon had on her Brenda still could not explain.

Kissing Sharon, Brenda could taste the faint hint of coffee on her lips. Sharon too had been working late. Softly she teased the older woman with the tip of her tongue before Sharon parted her lips and allowed Brenda in. Lazily Brenda's tongue circled around Sharon's and she moaned softly when the brunette's hands threaded her hair.

Sharon's fingers fumbled with the buttons on Brenda's cardigan as she moved her lips from Brenda's mouth to her neck, softly kissing the most sensitive spot just below Brenda's ear. Brenda whimpered softly as her head fell back. Sharon's fingers grazed over the swell of her breasts through her clothes.

"Come home with me tonight," Sharon whispered as she circled Brenda's earlobe with her tongue. "I don't care anymore."

They had a rule that Brenda would only ever stay the night if Fritz was away. He was home tonight, probably waiting for her. He had texted her twice already. Brenda had ignored them both.

"I…" she started but the words of protest died on the tip of her tongue when Sharon pulled back and their gazes locked.

"I mean it, Brenda. I don't care anymore."

"Are you sure?" Brenda's eyes widened.

"I'm sure." Sharon let her fingers trail down Brenda's jaw and she cocked her head a little. "I have finally found someone who makes me happy and I'm prepared to fight for it, if that's what it takes." She kissed Brenda softly. "Come home with me. I want you to stay tonight."

Brenda swallowed. She knew that if she went home with Sharon tonight, she would trigger something from which she could not return. The fleeting moment of hesitation disappeared almost instantly and she reached for the lamp on her desk to switch it off. Darkness engulfed the office but she didn't need the light to see – and sense- Sharon's smile on her face.

Sharon stood up and Brenda followed. She threw her phone into her purse and followed Sharon out of her office and towards the elevator. When they reached the parking lot and Brenda followed Sharon to her car, she could feel and hear the phone vibrate in her bag. As she got into the passenger side, she fished the phone back out and Sharon turned to look at her. Their gazes locked as the light of the phone screen lit up Brenda's face.

The text was from Fritz.

Without opening it, Brenda switched off her phone, dropped it back in her bag and turned to Sharon.

"Drive."

Chapter Text

There were moments in a person's life that changed everything and Brenda Leigh Johnson had found herself in one of those moments only a few months ago. Losing her Mama had changed everything and after leaving the LAPD, leaving behind the people she had come to consider family, she left behind the one other thing that still tied her to her old life; her husband.

Now she was a twice divorced woman about to turn fifty in a city that still carried some of her demons and shadows. But amongst those shadows she had found a flicker of hope when Sharon had reached out to her, drawing her back into the light and eventually onto a different course in her life. The friendship they had formed around the time Brenda left the LAPD intensified rapidly and it hadn't taken them both long to understand that the inevitable had happened; they had fallen in love.

Now, six months since that first realisation and with her divorce papers freshly signed and with her lawyer, Brenda found herself hauling the last of the boxes into Sharon's condo. The brunette turned around when she heard Brenda huffing and puffing and curiously inspected the content of the box when she opened it. "What on Earth is in here, Brenda Leigh?"

"Fragments of my life," Brenda deadpanned and looked up at Sharon with a bemused smirks. "Don't worry, it's just books."

"You read?" Sharon arched an eyebrow. "I don't think I've ever seen you read anything other than a case file."

"Yes, I read," Brenda defended herself. "In fact, I have read every book in this damn box."

Sharon pointed to the bookcase. "I guess we'll have to find some room for them."

"And for that collection of shoes I nearly broke my neck over on my way in here," Rusty chimed in. He walked into the living room and smirked.

So much had changed in these last few months, Brenda thought. She'd always had an aversion to change. It made her uncomfortable and restless. She liked the predictably of things and yet here she was, in the midst of moving into the condo of a woman she'd hated on sight almost three years ago. Now Sharon was the only person she could ever imagine spending her life with. Any doubt and fear she had felt, just vanished. With Sharon, everything felt right. Like she had finally come home.

"I'm just going to take these to the bedroom," Brenda said as she reached into another box and took a few things out.

She walked down the hall to Sharon's bedroom, their bedroom, and pushed the door open with the tip of her toes. There, on the bed, lay a pile of Brenda's clothes and in the bathroom her purple toothbrush stood next to Sharon's in a porcelain cup. With a sigh Brenda sank down on the bed and lay the things she carried in her arms down beside her. When she looked up she found Sharon leaning against the doorframe.

"I still can't believe we're really doin' this," she said softly.

"Neither can I," Sharon answered. "Within six months I took in a confused and angry foster child and got myself a girlfriend." She sat down next to Brenda and put her hand on her lover's knee. "But I'm not worried."

"Neither am I," Brenda said quietly. "This feels right."

"It does," Sharon agreed. Considering she wasn't the type to take risk or break the rules, this whole thing with Brenda had been everything she had never expected. It had stirred something inside her she had either forgotten about or never knew existed and it had brought a sense of life back to her. Sharing the same space with Brenda on a daily basis only felt like the logical next step and considering she was used to living on her own, and hadn't shared her space for years, inviting Brenda into the safety of her condo had been a huge step. But Sharon didn't regret a thing.

Brenda picked up one of the small jewellery boxes that lay on the bed. She'd never been the type to keep her jewellery in neat little boxes; she was more the kind of person who lost an earring two days after buying it only to find it again under the bed a year later. But some things she did keep in a box. Because she didn't want to lose them, ever.

Brenda carefully opened the little silver box and took something out. She held the ring between her thumb and index finger and showed it to Sharon. It was unmistakably a wedding ring. Made of yellow gold with what looked like a few small diamonds set in the middle. It looked delicate and fragile, as if it could break at any moment.

Brenda took Sharon's hand and placed the ring in her open palm. Their eyes met. "I want you to have this," she said softly and gently closed Sharon's fingers around the ring. "It was my Mama's wedding ring. I wore it for maybe a week after she died but then I put it in a box. I know she always wanted me to pass it on to my daughter. When I didn't have children she just told me to give it to someone who meant the world to me. Someone I love more than anythin' else in this world."

"Brenda…"

So I'm givin' it to you. As a promise. That what we have is special and that I will do my best to cherish it. I ain't got the best track record when it comes to relationships but this time it's different," Brenda continued and tears welled up in her eyes. "This time it's right."

Sharon opened her hand and took the ring. Without breaking eye contact she slid it on the ring finger on her right hand. It was a little tight but not uncomfortable. "And I will cherish this ring, and you Brenda Leigh, with everything I have."

Brown eyes continued to hold green. "I love you, Sharon."

"I love you too, Brenda."