It was still early, but the sun was already baking as it shined through the sheer drapes in the bedroom. Truthfully, as much as he loved growing up in Jersey he never found himself missing the humid summers of the east coast. On a really bad day the wind would change direction and the smell from hot, rotting trash would waft through the neighborhood as the wind carried it from the floating barrages. Jersey always found a way to add insult to injury, a one-two punch his older brother used to say. The dry heat of Los Angeles was no picnic, and in his older age he found that he couldn't tolerate the high temps as well as he used to, but it was still no comparison. He stared out the window for a moment longer as he toweled his hair and moved through the bedroom. Sharon, surprisingly, was no where to be found. Usually, she would be taking over the entire bed now that he had moved away, relishing his scent on the pillows and the freedom to stretch out. How a woman her size could take up an entire king size bed was still a mystery, but over the years they found a way to manage the his and hers sleeping routines. Andy wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped towards the dresser to find some boxers, when he noticed a box sitting on the top, with a little folded card. He flipped it open and it read #26, but nothing else. His mind began to race trying to figure out what exactly that meant. Dates? No. Anniversary? No. Kids? Definitely not? He grabbed his phone and flipped it on to check the date, it was the 25th not the 26th. He looked around the room for some other clue that she might have left for him, but the room was already mostly put back together.
Cautiously, he opened the lid on the small white box and pushed aside the tissue paper. Inside he found two tickets dated August 25th 7:10pm - today, tonight. He looked around again and slipped his glasses on and re-read the tickets. Brewers vs Dodgers. She got him tickets to the game. They only had one opportunity this season to go because of their work schedules, she knew that he wanted to take the boys the previous weekend but the universe conspired against that plan. He closed the lid and held up the tickets, turning when he heard the door open. Sharon stood in the doorway bare-legged in a Dodgers jersey, drinking a cup of coffee.
"I see you found the tickets?" She said taking another sip, but not moving away from the door.
"I did," he grinned, "They've been hot, maybe this is our year!"
"Hmm, maybe," she smiled back.
"But why the #26? Today is the 25th, and that's when the tickets are for?" He asked still confused about the message she left for him.
"Yes, that was a bit disappointing. I was hoping for nice symmetry there but my connection had tickets for tonight's game not tomorrow's, so I had to go with it," she said finally stepping away from the door, using her foot to give it a gentle kick closed.
"I think I'm still missing something here?" He said scratching his head.
"Oh, then maybe I should help the detective out a little? Give him a clue?" Her smile was entirely too mischievous, her eyes hooded as she set her mug down and slowly turned around so he could see the back of her jersey.
Silver Fox. Number 26. His mind quickly processed the information. It was clearly an authentic Dodger's jersey, but he couldn't tell if she had something custom made like her Packers "Mrs. Rodgers" jersey - that he secretly despised seeing her wear. The number, he tried to focus on that, who did that belong to. Utley. Chase Utley. He looked back down at the tickets and her jersey, momentarily forgetting or really caring about deciphering the clue when he noticed her bare thighs. "Player's Weekend," he said with a dirty grin.
Sharon spun back around, "Mmm, hmm, and this one just happened to fit. Imagine the luck."
"I'd say it definitely fits," he moved closer to her dropping the tickets back on the dresser," So Silver Fox is your guy?"
"He most certainly is," her voice low and full of intent as she closed the last of the gap between them. Her hands came up to his chest.
His hands slid up her arms and under the jersey to her shoulders, "You know he plays pretty well for an old guy?"
"He does, and he looks pretty good doing it. Can't wait to see it up close and personal tonight," she said with a playful wink.
Andy paused for a second trying to sort out whether she was talking about him or the actual Chase Utley, "Do I have to worry about losing you to yet another ball player?"
"No, it's why I got you this one. The only man you have to worry about stealing me is Aaron. You know he's single again—" she couldn't finish her sentence as Andy kissed her.
They pulled apart, "I know, but perhaps we could work out some kind of custody arrangement?" He pulled her into his arms, the warmth of his skin against the coolness of the jersey made his nipples hard. He could tell the friction was doing the same to Sharon.
He threw a quick glance over his shoulder to the clock, checking that they had time for some morning extra curricular activities. Sharon sensed his concern, "Don't worry, we don't have to go in today. Gabriel has gone through booking, the arraignment isn't until Monday. The paperwork can wait until then, we all need the day off. Robbery Homicide is on call if any cases come through."
No truer words could have been spoken at that moment. Arresting one of their own the night before, and not just a fellow officer but a someone who had been part of their family for many years had taken its toll. The thought about yesterday's events, and the fall out from their latest case made Andy pull Sharon even tighter in his arms. He needed that human connection. He hit a meeting last night and was planning on another visit this weekend, in the meantime Sharon gave him what he needed most, love.
After a minute, Sharon pulled away from his embrace. Andy was reluctant to let her go, but before he could say or do anything else she walked across the room into the closet and rummaged around for a moment.
"I may have another little surprise for you," she said walking out of the room with another box a bit bigger than the one left on the dresser.
She chewed on her bottom lip, looking entirely too guilty for Andy's liking. "What did you do?"
"I may have a found a few other things on the MLB shop that we needed," she replied playfully.
"Oh I see, well I have no problem with your shopping habits when they're used on anything Dodgers related," he returned the smile as he lifted the lid and found a pair of boxers nestled inside.
"I was going to wait and give them to you before the wedding, but I couldn't help myself," she said grinning as she took the box away from him and as he lifted out the boxers.
He smiled, they were nice boxers, from Stance and matched some socks Rusty got him for his birthday a few months earlier. He didn't know who Stance was or why he was making such a big deal out of this new partnership the MLB had with this company, but he appreciated the thought nonetheless. What he couldn't figure out was why Sharon was so happy about getting him a new pair of shorts. It wasn't like the first time she ever bought him underwear, but this reaction was very different.
She sensed his confusion and took them out of his hands and turned them around, "See?"
Across the butt she had "Mr. Silver Fox" screen printed, "Ah, well those are pretty special then!"
He leaned in for a kiss, "Thank you."
"That's not all," Sharon turned around and lifted her jersey slightly exposing a matching blue set of ladies bikini cut underwear also with words printed on the back - Mrs. Silver Fox.
Andy couldn't help himself he dropped to the floor and literally kissed her ass, "Now these are definitely a wonderful surprise!"
She turned around and pulled him up to her, "I think we can lose the towel. Don't you?" She gave it a tug and watched it drop to the floor.
"As much as I like these, I think they need to go as well," he said tugging at her panties. When Sharon began unbuttoning her jersey, his hands stopped her from removing it entirely, "This, I think can stay."
She giggled as she felt her knees hit the edge of the bed. For one moment, for one day within the sanctity of these four walls they could push out the world and just be Sharon and Andy. They needed it, hell everyone else needed them — they could only save the world together.
Friday August 24th
"Commander," Provenza stood up from his chair and grabbed his coat, "we should be the ones," he said gesturing to himself and Andy. It was just like Sharon to want to fall on her sword and take one for the team, but no matter how you sliced it sending her downtown to pick up David wasn't right.
Sharon thought for about it for a moment. He was right, she knew. There was no way she could send the newbies, or even Amy, he didn't know her and no matter what he was being accused of he deserved the courtesy to be in the company of someone familiar. She also knew it would help with the X factor, Brenda. She had tried to get a meeting with her all morning, but it seemed her calendar was full. No amount of "this is urgent" seemed to get from her assistant to Brenda, that or the woman really did still carry a grudge. She shook her head, knowing that not to be true, and gave a nod to Provenza. Her eyes caught Andy's, she hated sending him over there it was an awful job, an awful day that was continuing to worsen by the minute.
The squad remained quiet as they watched the two senior Lieutenants leave the room. Sharon followed them with her eyes until they finally disappeared, before turning to the team, "Mike, have we gotten the official report back from Forensics? I don't want to go into that interview room without it."
"I just got off the phone with them a few minutes ago, their sending it up, we should have it before they make it back," he replied. When her eyes didn't divert he caught on, "But I could go down there now and get it myself." He stood up and grabbed his things.
"Thank you," she replied before focusing her attention to everyone else. They were looking to her for direction. Sanchez and Buzz were the only two in the room with an emotional stake in the game. She knew that despite the improvements in his temper this could very well push Julio over the edge and she needed to find a way to keep him otherwise engaged. It was no longer just his career on the line, he had a family counting on him now.
Taking a deep breath, "Julio, I would like for you to take Nolan and Paige and execute the search warrant on Mr. Gabriel's home and car." He gave a silent nod, everyone knew what she was doing and while Julio might have disagreed he kept it to himself. He collected his service weapon and the warrant Tao printed earlier from the printer and walked down the hall, not waiting for the others. Sharon stopped Paige, "Keep an eye on him." The younger woman gave a nod and followed after Wes and Julio. The search should keep them well occupied for a few hours, hopefully long enough for them to either straighten everything out with David or not. She kept trying to refer to him as Mr. Gabriel, she needed to keep the separation, to compartmentalize her personal feelings from the case. Sharon already decided that she would stay out of the interview room for now, and let Andy and Provenza handle things. She tried to rationalize it by saying that she needed to be kept apprise of the search results, but in reality she couldn't sit across from this man and once again discuss Ann Mason. One single connection, one single relationship was proving to have the power to completely destroy a man's life — for a second time. The first time was unfortunate, the second time appeared to be truly tragic.
She turned on her heel and returned to her office. Amy and Buzz knew what they needed to do until their suspect arrived. From her desk she saw Amy pull the screen over the board and Buzz collect his equipment and head for electronics. She took a long deep breath before picking up the phone.
"Chief," she said after it rang once.
"Is he here?" Pope asked.
"No, I've sent Flynn and Provenza to pick him up," she replied, "he should be here within the half hour."
"Did you get a hold of Brenda?" he asked quickly moving on.
"No, she isn't answering my calls. I tried several times," she let out with a frustrated sigh.
"Did you try Fritz?" She could hear the inflection on the name, even after all this time and having the man work under his command he had trouble saying it.
"I sent him a casual text asking if she had gone back to work yet. He said yes, that was it," she answered.
"Okay, well let me see if I can give her a quick call before they get over there and at least give her a warning. Without it well all hell might break loose," he huffed and without another word he hung up.
She knew he was right, at least about Brenda. When it came to David she had a soft spot. It was like he was one of her kids, she could never stay mad at him and was a bit blind when it came to it. She sighed again and rubbed the back of her neck, knots were already forming at the base of her skull. It was going to be a very long day.
She picked the phone back up and called across the street. There was a least one person over there that she could warn and who would answer her calls.
"Hobbs," she heard on the other end.
"Hey Andrea," Sharon replied.
"Oh, sorry didn't check the ID before I answered, knee deep in these jury forms. You know I think some people write poorly on purpose just to get out of being selected. I think maybe I should just pick everyone with the worst handwriting. What do you think?" Annoyance dripped from her mouth.
"Well, I can't disagree that it sounds like a ploy, however, you could risk a dismal or appeal by getting a prejudiced juror," she stated the obvious knowing Andrea already knew all of this, but merely wanted to vent, "Or you could ignore all that paperwork, make your second chair do it and get your Donna Karen butt across the street."
Sharon could hear the thud of a file of papers being dropped on the desk, "Uh oh. What did you do?"
"Well, I'm not sure you're going to want to be in anywhere near the DA Investigative offices in the next 5 minutes. I just sent Flynn and Provenza over there to get Gabriel. It's time," her voice was resigned and full of disappointment.
"I'm on my way," the phone clicked as Andrea gathered her things and headed to PAB.
She leaned back in her chair. There wasn't much for her to do. Well there was always plenty of paperwork, and being Friday timesheets needed to be signed off. But in terms of the case they had a flurry of movement in the early hours and now it was back to the waiting for suspects, waiting for reports, waiting for more evidence. She could sense the shift in the air, clouds had begun to roll in, a rare summer thunderstorm was on approach. It was literally the calm before the storm. There could be nothing more fitting than having electrified air to hang around the murder room on today of all days.
Andy looked across the street before the walked into the building. It was the Cathedral where they were to be wed in a few weeks time. Our Lady of Angels. He shook his head, the way life worked sometimes baffled him. He tried to shake off the thoughts spilling into his head and focus on the task at hand. Provenza slapped him on the chest, "Would you get on with it already?"
"Yeah, yeah, let's get this over with," he said falling into step with his partner. When they reached the office building they pushed the button on the elevator to the third floor. The DA Investigative unit was located in a different building from the DA's office, it didn't make sense to him why everyone should be scattered around the place, but he supposed at the moment he was glad that this pending walk of shame was going to be minimized a bit. It was still going to suck for everyone involved, but not being dragged downtown in front of all the DAs and folks at city hall, well that had to make things just a percentage point better.
"Did she get a hold of you know who?" Provenza asked afraid to say her name now that they were in the building, as if the walls could talk.
"No, for whatever reason she isn't answering Sharon's calls, we're going in blind," Andy gave a slightly nervous shutter at the thought. He hated pissing off Sharon, that was scary enough, but Brenda was a whole different stratosphere of frightening.
"Great," he mumbled as the doors opened.
The two senior detectives strolled casually down the halls. It wasn't unusual for a member of law enforcement to stop by the office, after all they were often working similar cases. A few people nodded as they typed away on their computers and answered calls. When they reached the end of the hallway the turned and found a large office with a conference room next door, it wasn't unlike the one she had back at PAB. They peered inside and saw both Brenda and David talking to a few people. The loitered around for a moment, trying to make eye contact with someone inside, after minutes of failed and mostly awkward attempts they finally coincided that they were going to have to do this the uncomfortable way. Deja vu hit Andy as he watched Provenza go to the door, it was just like watching Sharon enter the interview room six years earlier. He knocked, but didn't wait for anyone to answer before pushing open the door.
"Yes?" Brenda cried as her back was turned, clearly annoyed at whoever was interrupting her meeting.
Provenza cleared his throat, "Uh Chi-" he started to say before realizing that she was still technically a 'chief' just not 'the chief,' in the time it took him to resolve this issue in his mind Brenda turned around.
"Lieutenant! What are you doing here?" She sauntered over to him, her pink sun dress flowing around her ankles as she moved.
Before he could reply Andy slid in next to Provenza to get a better listen to what was being said.
"Andy! You're both here, what a surprise! Oh and thank you for the flowers," She crooned as she moved in to give them both a hug.
Provenza and Flynn shared a mutual look of confusion, this was not going the way they expected. They stood awkwardly as their former boss gave them both a hug, knowing that things were about to get super uncomfortable when they explained why they were there.
"It's so good to see you both! I know Fritzi keeps telling me to stop by, but things just have a way of getting by me sometimes. Anyways, what brings you all the way over here? I don't think we are working any of Major Crimes' cases right now," she shifted her weight onto her hip and while most people would have read her tone as southern hospitality both seasoned detectives could hear the interrogation in her voice. It was subtle, but it was there.
Andy rubbed the back of his neck with one hand, using the other to gesture wildly, "Well you see Chief—"
"We're uh, here, to ah," Provenza sputtered.
The two looked at each other knowing they needed to calm the fuck down, they were here to do a job and while their old boss was intimidating as hell they needed to stay focused - and then run like hell.
Provenza cleared his throat, "Chief, we need a moment to talk to Gabriel. It looks like you're in the middle of something right now, but could you spare him for a bit?"
Brenda crossed her arms and shot a piercing glance at both her former detectives, clearly trying to get a read on why they were really here and what they wanted with her second in command. She shifted her stance, filling the room, "Well we are in the middle of something right now gentleman. Is this important?"
Gabriel looked up at his former colleagues and then back at his boss. She gave him a quizzical look, like Sharon and Andy the two managed to carry on conversations without words. He gave her a shrug clearly indicating that he had no clue why they were there.
Andy spoke up, "Yes it is, I'm sorry, but we really need to speak with Gabriel."
David stood up, "Chief, it's alright. You wrap up here and I'll see what our old friends at the LAPD need."
Brenda looked unsure about all of this, but turned her attention back to the case they were working, noticeably torn about what to prioritize in that moment, "Okay, but have him back soon. We are working on a tight deadline here."
Andy led Gabriel out. Provenza gave her a nod, "We'll do what we can," as he shut the door knowing full well that chances were David would be back any time soon.
It was no surprise that a few minutes after hanging up Sharon saw Andrea stride into the murder room. Sharon smirked at her friend's slightly disheveled appearance, knowing she must have really booked it to get over here so quickly. Andrea didn't share many qualities with Provenza, but one was definitely 'not running' she hated going to the gym. She went begrudgingly a few times a month, but really she got more of a workout pacing at the courthouse than she ever did at the gym.
Sharon pushed back against the desk, rolling her chair aside as she stepped up and walked out of her office. She glanced at her watch, they'd be back soon.
"Andrea," she said gesturing for her to join her down the hall. She didn't want them to be discussing the case when their suspect arrived.
"I heard through the grapevine that she's pissed. If I were you, I'd screen my calls for the remainder of the day," her eyes were wide and her voice was breathless.
"Duly noted," Sharon replied.
Before Sharon and Andrea made it into electronics they heard the unmistakable voice of Provenza filling the halls, "All will be explained shortly."
She peered around the corner and saw Provenza taking him down the hall into the conference room. Being not just a former cop or detective, but a member of this elite squad they knew there would be no fooling him if they brought him into an interview room, one question and she knew the jig would be up no matter where they put him. For now, a conference room was the best place. Andy stopped in the middle of the squad room and watched to make sure his partner had no issues, not that they expected it, but there were rules and he was now, apparently, a follower. Satisfied that they could hang tight for a few minutes he walked down the hall in the other direction towards Sharon.
"So how did it go?" She asked in a hushed voice.
"Well it was fine when we picked him up, but the drive was too long he got antsy and suspicious on the way over. Provenza tried to come up with an excuse, but he knows us too well. Might have been better to send the kids," he add the last bit with a shrug. No matter what they did they'd second guess themselves, it was just that type of situation.
"Pope finally got a hold of Brenda, she's been briefed," Sharon replied not to ignore Andy's point, but there was nothing to be done about it now. She played the card she felt was right at the time.
"So do you still want to go with the original plan?" He asked hesitantly, feeling uneasy about questioning a former friend and colleague.
"Yes, I think this is still the best way to go about it. Tao will be up here shortly with the forensics report. I'll have him bring it straight to you. Don't go too hard, he knows all the plays," she said knowing that he really didn't need to be told any of this, but feeling the need to fill the air.
"We got it," he said giving her arm a small pat before walking back down the hall towards his partner. When he reached the door he looked back, Sharon stood there staring at him they shared a silent nod before both taking a deep breath and walking through their respective doors.
"Okay, you guys are making me nervous. What's with all the subterfuge?" David asked, he looked calm but they'd known him long enough to see beyond the confident front he showed the world.
"We picked up a case last weekend. Has ties to some old stuff," Andy replied as nonchalantly as possible.
It seemed to work, David leaned back, "An old case? Oh okay, right."
"Yeah, so anyway, we just thought we could get you to help us out," Andy continued.
"Right, yeah help," Provenza grumbled in his usual manner.
"So you're finally running for office?" Andy jumped right to the point that would establish his location at the time of Ann's death.
David rubbed his head, "Yeah, you know, I like the investigative side of things over at the DA's office, but I miss what we did here the helping people side. And well, I've always thought I could give back more to my community. So after talking it over with my parents, and Jo, we decided as a family it made sense."
"So you really want to be a politician?" Provenza looked at him clearly skeptical and suspicious.
"What I want is to do good work and give back," his tone was a bit defensive and Andy decided to move the conversation slightly
"So you've just started the campaign I guess that takes like a lot of money right? Gotta get donations and whatnot?" Andy asked looking at Provenza and then back to David.
"Yeah, it does take a lot of money to pay for all the signs, staff, and advertisements, but we just held a big fundraiser over the weekend and that's made a big dent in our campaign finance," the man was proud and his voice was back to being positive and excited about his latest venture.
"Really a fundraiser, why weren't we invited?" Provenza inquired, knowing full well why they weren't.
"I don't think that's really your thing Lieutenant, besides when is the last time you donated anything to anyone?" He said laughing.
"Last month to my ex-wife, it's called alimony," he growled.
"Hardly a donation," Andy muttered under his breath.
David ignored the dig, "It wasn't a really big fundraiser, it was just a group of people might campaign guy invited up in Hollywood Hills to generate some buzz."
"Ah, so you were up in the Hollywood Hills last weekend?" Andy asked.
"Well last Thursday actually, but yeah they rented some house, I'm not sure. Jo handles most of these things for me while I'm at work," he replied with a shrug.
"Whose Jo?" Provenza asked. Andy stared at him with wide eyes causing Provenza to shrug, "What?!"
"She's my fiancé, we are getting married next April," David offered up.
Just then there was a knock at the door, Tao held up a folder and Andy stood up. David watched the two men talk for a moment as Mike handed Andy the folder and then gave him a concerned look before fleeing down the hall. Andy looked it over and then walked back into the room, and passed it to Provenza.
Sensing the shift David became defensive again, "So what case did you say this was regarding?"
"This is about Ann," Provenza said almost so softly that the words were missed.
It took David a split second to get who he was talking about, but the moment he did his face dropped, he gritted his teeth "What about Ann?"
"She's dead," Andy opened a folder and put a picture on the table. David didn't flinch, not that anyone expected him to he was a former homicide detective and now DA investigator, looking at crime scene photos for the last two decades made him numb.
"While that is sad and tragic, I'm not sure why you're telling me. I haven't seen or even thought about her in nearly six years," he said sliding the picture back towards them.
"Well you see, this report we have here," Provenza held up the file that Tao brought up moments ago, "says otherwise."
"What are you insinuating, that I had something to do with this?" David argued.
"If you didn't then how do you explain your DNA under the victim's fingernails?" Andy asked trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.
"Roll-up your sleeves," Provenza barked.
David hesitated before unbuttoning the cuffs and rolling them up. There were small abrasions to his forearms, they were faint and happened days ago, but they were still visible. David followed their eyes down, "This is from working in the park over the weekend. It was community service day, I helped plant some new shrubs."
Neither detective doubted the story, there would probably be campaign photos all over social media by now of the event, but it also made for a nice cover story one that a former cop would think to plan.
"We know you were across the street from where the victim's body was found around the time of death. Your DNA is under her fingernails and you two have quite the history. What did she want to try and blackmail you? Sabotage the campaign? Maybe she was going to confront your fiancé?" Provenza shouted as he slammed his hands on the desk causing Gabriel just jump.
"I want to place a call to my lawyer," he replied calmly.
It was never a question of if Gabriel would lawyer up, but when. There was no real point in questioning him, they knew they'd never get anywhere. They hoped to give him the chance to cooperate, but new it was a slim chance.
"Okay," Provenza closed the file, "You can have your phone call, but you're under arrest for the murder of Ann Mason."
Andy stood up and moved to the other side of the conference room table, removing the cuffs from his back holster as Provenza read him his rights. David silently bowed his head and put his hands behind his back, there was no point fighting. There was a process to everything, rules to follow and fighting it now wouldn't help.
Note there's a one-off add-on that fills in the "fade to black" moment for those interested - search for "Players Weekend" rated M.