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Every step I take… I’ll be missing you

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Oh, God. Oh, God she—Oh my God—I.” Deep breaths, Hobbs, deep breaths. “How,” she couldn’t keep her voice from breaking, “how did she die?”

 

“She collapsed after interrogating a suspect. They did all they could. But they couldn’t—” he cleared his throat, rushing the next sentence, “—they couldn’t save her. I’m sorry, I know you were close.”

 

“I’m sorry too, Louie.”

 


  

Andrea Hobbs took a deep breath. Today was the day , she kept telling herself, today was the fucking day , hoping that if she said it enough, it would be believable. Even though she remembered every word Provenza said on that goddamn phone call—remembered shaking in Emma’s arms for two hours, never crying because Andrea Hobbs didn’t cry goddammit, remembered feeling like her world was collapsing and the warmth of her girlfriend was the only thing keeping it together—it was still like a fever dream.

 

And yet now, even if Andrea refused to believe it, the world was moving on—with the ceremony, the will, everything—and she had no choice but to follow along. Oh, God, she’s really gone . If she, Sharon’s best friend, was still processing it, she couldn’t imagine how Andy and Ricky and Emily and— Oh, God—Rusty , how would they be coping. She had to stop thinking about it before she started having a breakdown. Think of the good times, Andrea, the good times .

 

Like how they’d get coffee during a case sometimes, when they needed a break from things. Sharon would always talk about the small things—Andy’s health schemes, Rusty’s college, sometimes even God—but she never talked about herself. Or how they’d make eye contact over Provenza’s head and roll their eyes, or how they’d grab a drink after hours sometimes—occasionally with Gavin, but after spending more time with him she found she couldn’t really stand the man.

 

“Andrea,” her girlfriend called from down the hallway, thankfully pulling her out of her thoughts. Emma always had excellent timing. She walked towards her wearing a deep blue dress that fell to her knees, her stressed greying hair—Emma didn’t want to dye it, too much effort, she had said—falling down in natural curls, and bags under her eyes no amount of makeup could hide. She looked more tired than usual, and Andrea knew she didn’t sleep well that night. Neither of them did. “Thanks for letting me stay the night.”

 

“You’re welcome to stay longer, sweetheart.”

 

Emma chuckled humourlessly, “You know I would, babe, if my protection detail would let me I’d stay here in a heartbeat.” Andrea knew she’d argued with her protection (and the DA) for hours just so she’d be able to spend a night with her girlfriend. In the end, she was able to compromise two nights—that was the minimum she would take. It had taken a while, but Andrea needed her, so that was the end of that. “But they’re paranoid so…”

 

The blonde’s small smile gave her some relief, glad she could still make Andrea happy after everything she’d been through the past few weeks. Wrapping her arms around her, Emma rested her chin on Andrea’s shoulder and said, “At least I’m here now. And I’ll be right here if you need me, babe.”

 

"Babe?" Andrea said, amused, "When did we become teenagers?"

 

"When I fell in love with you." Emma replied cheekily, hugging her girlfriend closer. 

 

Turning around, Andrea gave her a soft kiss. "You're cute."

 

"I know."

 

"And humble, too."

 

"You love it."

 

Andrea turned around in her lover's embrace. "I love you," she said, kissing her, "so much. For ever," another kiss, "and ever." It was the truth, all of it and then some. She loved Emma so much. Loved her for stubbornness, determination, her wit. For her loyalty and her awkwardness and her bravery. For her heart, for caring about everyone—even if she didn't know how to show it. She loved Emma because she changed for people—she did everything for people. So willing to do anything for people, that was her Emma—selflessness even when people didn't recognise it as so. "Te quiero no solo por como eres, sino por como soy yo cuando estoy contigo." It was a phase she learned a while ago.

  

The woman in question smiled serenely, running her lips down the side of the taller woman's face. "Are you ready for today?"

 

Not even close,  she thought .  "Not particularly," she said instead. "But I'll have to face it anyway, so today seems as good as any." She knew she sounded indifferent—like she didn't care in the slightest—but she also knew that Emma understood how difficult it was for her. Indifference was a coping mechanism for her, it always had been. She'd never been the type to scream and cry until angels could hear her up in fucking heaven—was that even a place, she didn't fucking know. Tears were always silent for Andrea, the few and far in-between anyway. 

 

"Okay, mi amor, but I'll be right next to you if you need me. Tardé una hora en conocerte y solo un día en enamorarme. Pero me llevará toda una vida lograr olvidarte."

 

The kiss they shared in parting was passion-filled and desperate, before Emma had to leave again.

 


 

She couldn't stop shaking. Her hands were cold and her mind was racing. She's fine, she's not in danger. She has a protection detail for a reason. 

 

About a half-hour ago, Provenza had called, voice frantic. "Andrea, you should get down here." Andrea had been dressing to start the day. Staying at home and taking leave was not an option, not anymore—she'd been off leave for far too long—so, even with the objections of her boss, she was to come in to work the morning after the funeral. 

 

"What? Is something wrong? Where are you?" She had asked, already putting on her shoes.

 

"Emma's house. There's something I need to tell you."

 

The woman stop dead in her tracks, heartbeat spiking. She narrowly avoided dropping her phone. Keys in hand as she stood at the doorway of her house, she asked, her voice low and frightened, "What? Emma?" 

 

"Don't enter the house. Just stay at the front and wait for me." Provenza ordered. "Do not go in that house, do you hear me?" Andrea hung up. 

 

Running down to the carpark, she hurriedly got into the car she and Emma had drove in only yesterday. It still smelled of her. She stomped her foot on the pedal and drove, not caring about her speed or how many road-laws she was breaking—all she cared about was getting to Emma, making sure she was alright. She needed Emma in her arms now, needed to know she was breathing. Needed to know she still had a reason to live.

 

Racing down the road, she started to cry slow, unfamiliar tears.

 


 

"One of you," Provenza said while he was handing out orders, "wait for Andrea at the front of the house please. And whoever it is, try not to let her into the house."

 

Before anyone could question why, Julio spoke up. "I'll go, Lieutenant," Julio said, voice even softer than it normally was. He had noticed both women's closeness to each other—a closeness that didn't come with just a friendship, but with a relationship that went deeper—and he had pieced the facts together. Knowing this, he'd thought he would probably be the most welcome to her right now—aside from Sykes, but she was going to be occupied. "I'll wait for her."

 

Provenza stopped him, "Just a second. All of you," he addressed the team, "make sure to exercise caution around her. She's lost two very important people to her in a very short time, and we don't want to distress her any further."

 

A chorus of "yes, sir" rang through his squad. No one dared question why, and all of them had some idea anyway. The DDA had never found it necessary to hide her bisexuality, and they all were damn good detectives, so figuring it out hadn't exactly been difficult. Amy sighed once they'd been dismissed, pulling on the latex gloves onto her hands. She couldn't imagine what it felt like for Hobbs. They were not the closest of people, of course, but her heart ached for the woman—to loose a best friend and a lover at such immediate times—she didn't dare think what she was going through.

 

Once they'd got started—and Emma's body had been carefully removed—Amy had become so preoccupied that she didn't notice DDA Hobbs making her way through the mass of officers and crime-scene investigators, nor did she notice Julio trying to stop her. She only started to notice when Lieutenant Provenza did, and when she turned around, the look on the woman's face told her that she already knew.

 

"Andrea."

 

She didn't seem to want to speak, but when she did, her voice shook and trembled, "Where is she?"

 

Provenza avoided making eye-contact with the distraught woman as much as he could, the guilt was already too much, "At the morgue. She was an officer of the court, and her body does not belong at the side of the pool." 

 

"What the hell happened?"

 

And when Amy explained the situation, and took her away while she broke down, she wondered how strong Andrea had to be to show up on the case the next day.

 


  

Two year later...

 

The was a knock on her door. Two raps, then stop, and repeat. She sighed.

 

"Kindly arrange a meeting at a later date."

 

The person knocked again, annoying Andrea greatly. But as soon as the offender spoke, her brows unfurrowed and she smiled—well, as much as she could. "It's me, Andrea. I brought alcohol, so, y'know. Let me in please, it's kinda cold." Even though she knew he couldn't see her, Andrea shook her head fondly at him anyway. Rusty really had grown on her, no matter how much of a pain he was (and still remains, occasionally.)

 

"Thanks," she called over he shoulder from where she was sadly seated on the sofa, "but I'm already well-stocked. You're welcome to come in anyway, though. I'm just watching a few things."

 

Rusty came in, padding quietly as if he were afraid of waking an animal of some sort. There were a few things in his arms. He had come bearing food and—as promised—wine. Seeing her eyeing it, he grinned, "It's from Andy. He thought you might need it, so don't worry, it was obtained legally." The groan he made while sitting down was completely for drama's sake, she was sure. She rolled her eyes again—no matter how much he grew, she'd still see Rusty as the obnoxious teen he was from time to time.

 

He took in the room as he sat, not paying any attention to the movie playing at all. Soon, his eyes landed on the framed picture of Emma and Andrea in one of the cabinets around the TV. "That's a nice picture." He said, pathetically—he didn't really know what to say, and that was the only thing that came to mind so...

 

"It is," Andrea said. Rusty raised his eyebrow, imploring her to continue. "We took it on her birthday. I took us around, did some things."

 

"Could you be any less specific?"

 

She smiled. "Yes."

 

Rusty sighed without irritation, but more in laughter. "So... Legally Blonde?" He said, gesturing to the movie playing, "A bit of a cliché, don't you think? I mean, if we're talking movies about law, I'd go with, like, Witness for the Prosecution or The Verdict."

 

"Aren't those a little old for you?"

 

"Hey, just 'cause I'm young doesn't mean I can't enjoy classics. Besides, I watched The Verdict with Emma one time. She didn't really like it though."

 

Andrea chuckled at that a little, "No, I don't imagine she would." There was a pause as both of them drew their gaze towards the screen again, "It was her favourite. Legally Blonde. A feminine, underestimated, female lawyer whose name also happened to begin with an E, of course she would love it." They both laughed at that—though Andrea's laugh seemed to be slightly more tearful.

 

"I miss her, you know." Rusty said, suddenly, breaking them both away from their thoughts. "That's why I spend this Saturday with you every year—"

 

"—it's been two years, Rusty—" 

 

"—yeah but still. Shush, I'm not finished making my point. That's why Andy let's me come here when I'm supposed to have family dinner with him and Emily and Ricky. He only gets weekends with me now I'm in College, so. Just—you know, I'm here for me just as much as I am for you." 

 

She looked at him, and he honestly wasn't surprised to see she was crying. Heck, he was too. "Thanks, Rusty."

 

"Yeah." He said, awkwardly, "Anytime." More silence. Jesus, this was kind of weird, for Rusty, at least. He didn't know if this was weird for Andrea. He was really glad she didn't try to hug him though.

 

"I'll let that jab about me being old slip, just once." She teased, her humor immediately putting Rusty at ease.

 

He laughed. "I have no idea what you're talking about, but we do have this bottle to finish. You want me to open it."

 

"Go ahead. I'll be here, waiting 'till you finally open it."

 

"That was one time, okay. The cork was in abnormally deep."

 

And as she spend the afternoon with Rusty—and many following afternoons—her heart hurt a little less every-time she smiled. And she thought, maybe one day it wouldn't hurt to smile at all. One day.