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witness for the prosecution

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It’s almost eleven at night. Sharon is still at work, in her office with her head in her hands, staring down at autopsy photos even though they make her stomach churn. There’s no identifying these girls yet, not until the dental records come back. That’s how little they know so far. They don’t even know who’s dead. 

They know the MO fits with a potential spree killer in Hollywood, who’s killed several regulars of a popular lesbian bar. Except the last three times he only killed one victim, and this time he killed three in one night. He used something like a tire iron, Morales said. The victims were beaten to death and their faces battered beyond recognition post-mortem. Their bodies were found within hours, left out in the open in well-trafficked alleys amongst stacks of cardboard boxes, trash, and used needles. 

The squad's been going over the files that got handed over. It’s been nearly five hours of listening to them through her open office door. She contemplates closing it. 

“These are the worst notes I’ve ever seen,” Flynn says for the tenth time. 

“I’m starting to get the funny feeling Hollywood cops just don’t care about these gay kids getting beaten to death,” Provenza says, throwing down a file. 

The first three crime scenes were sparsely documented, and the cases investigated superficially at best. 

Around seven, Taylor stormed through the Murder Room shouting, “Not a hate crime! Please, oh please let the killer be gay too!” He didn’t stop, he just barreled through and out another door, leaving everyone staring after him. 

Around nine, Tao leaned into her office. “Captain, I just got an email I thought you should know about.” 

She motioned for him to go on. 

He rubbed his hand over his head, uncharacteristically awkward, and cleared his throat. “It was from Chief Taylor. He said if this is a hate crime, we’d better, uh, find someone gay to do the press conference.” 

“He emailed that. To you,” she said, her eyes narrowing. 

He gestured vaguely to his lapel and said, “I think maybe he got the wrong idea. Back in June.” 

“Now he thinks you’re some kind of gay community liaison.” 

“Right,” he said. 

“For God’s sake, he doesn’t know any gay people in the building he can ask himself?” she asks rhetorically, rubbing a thumb over her temple. “Do me a favor?” 

“Ma’am?” 

“Delete that email and just… pretend you never saw it.” 

Sharon is supposed to be on a date right now with her church friend Roger. 

“With Roger again?” Emily said on the phone last night, “That’s not a date, it’s a booty call.” 

Sharon typed “booty call” into Google on her laptop and bristled as she read the supplied definition. “That’s not true. We’re going out to dinner and then having a drink.” 

“And then sex.” 

“Emily!” 

“Mom, please, I’m almost thirty.” 

Sharon was silent. 

“Did you go get your toenails done?” 

She had. She looked down at her feet, propped up in front of her on the couch. Her toenails were bright red. Fuck me red, she thought. Maybe she wouldn’t tell Emily the color. 

“And you shaved your legs?” 

Sharon bit her tongue. 

“And you’re gonna ask him in for coffee but never make coffee.” 

“How is that not a date?” she finally asked. 

“Are you trying to be Roger’s girlfriend?” 

“Well—” 

“How about his wife?” 

“No,” she said emphatically. 

“But you’re still going to have sex with him.” 

“What is this, confession?” 

Emily laughed, took a sip of something. Maybe it was wine. Her little girl was a grown up woman now. She had been for a long time. Sharon tried to push down the sudden sentiment. It was always awkward when she cried on the phone to her kids. 

“I’m not judging!” she said. “I’m just saying you’re not dating this Roger guy. You’re just getting what you want from him and sending him on his way.” 

“Yes, but—that’s what he wants too,” she defended. 

“Exactly, Mom, that’s what makes it a booty call. Now say two Hail Marys.” 

Sharon had been perfectly fine for the last three years without a man in her bed. She’d thought maybe Jack had finally put her off sex for good. Not that she hadn’t had a libido; she had, one satisfied by her fingers and a bullet vibrator. 

Then back in June, Chief Howard came to her office and fucked her over the desk and sparked something inside her. Some long-lost craving. She found herself staring at men on the street again. She found herself unable to concentrate during meetings with her colleagues. Even when Chief Howard wasn’t there, treating her with a very cool, distant respect, she found herself staring at mouths, lips, fingers. She felt like she was nineteen again, finally in college and away from the oppressive eye of her parents. Like she was drunk on tequila and being felt up in the backseat of a station wagon. 

She’s seen Roger several times since then, has ridden his cock on her couch and in her bed. 

At work, she leaves some nights with Flynn as the others giggle behind their hands and speculate about him getting lucky. She only feels a little bad that she turns him away after dinner without even letting him accompany her up on the elevator, that she shuts him up with a kiss intended to make him lightheaded. “I’m sorry,” she always says, “Tonight’s not a good night.” 

And she goes upstairs and she calls Roger and says, “I need to see you tomorrow.” 

Sharon wants to want Flynn, she does. But she can’t help but think of the misogynist jerk from Robbery-Homicide, the Flynn from before he stopped drinking, when he and Jack would pal around together. Flynn encouraged Jack to gamble, and Jack encouraged Flynn to cheat on his wife. 

He’s not that guy anymore. He’s been sweet, he’s been gentle. He’s been patient. 

Chief Howard was none of those things. He waited in her office, he propositioned her, and then he fucked her. He cleaned off his cock and declared he needed a meeting, just like her deadbeat husband had. Flynn would never do that. 

But she still doesn’t want him. And she’s been denying him for so long she can’t give in and fuck him now just because she’s been turned on by someone else. It seems wrong, dirty. So she calls Roger, fucks him instead. That feels wrong too, it all does, and she thinks, hopes maybe that’s just the Catholic school talking. 

Still, she doesn’t mention it in confession. She never brings up the sex with Chief Howard, either, the sex she thinks about when she comes. She doesn’t bring up Brenda, her breathy voice on the other end of the call, the way she said, I’d ride your face. She said it just like that, so casually, like it was something she did all the time. Ride Chief Howard’s face. The way he called his wife baby when he was right on the edge, and made Sharon feel almost like a voyeur. 

No. 

She brings up Flynn, and she calls him “Andy” like she’s supposed to. But she can feel the priest’s heavy gaze on her. He knows her too well, realizes she’s holding back. She wonders what Roger says in confession. Does he say her name? Does he talk about the way she’ll fuck him, but won’t kiss him on the mouth? 

“Yoo-hoo!” a voice calls, “Special delivery!” 

Sharon looks up, away from the autopsy photos. She hates that she’s let her mind be drawn away from the case by her personal life—and her sex life, at that. She hates that the person who just intruded on their Murder Room at eleven at night is one of the people she’s been thinking about for months now. 

She never called Brenda, and Brenda never called her, just like last time. And so life moved on. 

But that night, God. She can’t deny she’s grateful to at least have a new memory of sex blissfully free of Jack. 

Outside her office, everyone has hopped up excitedly (except Provenza, who Sharon is sure doesn’t hop). Not just for Brenda, but for the four pizzas and two donut boxes she’s carrying. Sharon watches Buzz take them from her, watches Brenda give him a kiss on the cheek. 

“Chief!” Sykes says, reaching out her hand eagerly. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.” 

“You must be Detective Sykes; I’ve heard so very much about you,” she says sweetly. 

Sharon wonders who exactly is telling Brenda about the division. Her husband, she supposes. But he doesn’t spend that much time with them, and least of all Sykes. 

But Sykes looks over Brenda’s shoulder toward Sharon, gives her a big smile. She thinks Sharon’s been talking her up. Sharon gives her an uneasy smile back. She stands up and moves towards the open door of her office, leaning up against the frame and watching Brenda interact with the squad. They all call her “Chief” and she reminds them all in turn they don’t have to. 

She shakes hands with Sykes and then Provenza, then Tao. She hugs Sanchez, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Flynn says with a goofy smile, “Thanks for the pizza, Chief. You remembered my vegetarian.” And his hands are on her waist, light and casual. 

“How could I forget?” Brenda asks, and she hugs him, too, before breaking away. 

That seems like the exact kind of thing Brenda would forget, Sharon thinks uncharitably. 

Brenda reaches into one of the donut boxes and plucks out a glazed jelly donut. 

“Just getting one for your fearless leader. Now, get back to work,” she says sternly. “Don’t get too close to me now or you’ll catch a subpoena, go on.” 

She waves Sharon back into the office and follows. She turns back one more time and says cheerfully, “I have to talk a little shop with the Captain. I know y’all are working real hard here, but unless it’s an emergency, won’t you please leave us to it?” 

They’re quiet for a moment, perhaps wondering what the two of them could possibly have to talk about at this point that’s work-related, and then there’s a dutiful chorus of “Yes, Chief”s. Brenda shuts and locks the door, draws all of the blinds without so much as a look at Sharon. 

“I’m not a huge fan of donuts,” she says. 

“Of course you’re not,” Brenda says dismissively, waving her hand. “It’s for me.” 

Brenda doesn’t say anything for a while, so Sharon just watches her eat the donut. She thinks it’s probably illegal in some countries, the way Brenda eats. Scooping up a glob of raspberry jam on the tip of one finger, sucking it off and making those indecent moaning noises. 

Aside from the donut and the lascivious way she’s eating it, she looks surprisingly professional. She has on nude lipgloss and just the lightest traces of peach blush, and she’s wearing a smart box-pleated navy skirt with a matching blazer. 

Finally, Sharon says, “Isn’t your husband in Virginia for another week, Chief?” 

She adds the title as a courtesy. She expects Brenda to tell her, like she told everyone else, to call her by her first name, but she doesn’t. The corners of her mouth just quirk up a little. 

“He is.” 

Most of SOB was sent out for a counter-terrorism training last week. Sharon didn’t stick her nose too far into it, but she assumed Chief Howard would stay with his wife while he was over there. 

“So what are you doing here?” she prompts. 

“Testifying,” Brenda says shortly. 

“Oh,” Sharon says. She knows as well as anyone else how court cases can drag on. No matter how many miles Brenda runs away from Los Angeles, they’ll claw her back and make her talk. 

“By the time I’m done, he’ll be on his way here and I’ll have to fly back,” she says. 

“I’m sorry,” Sharon says awkwardly. The donut is gone now, and her desk is covered in sticky crumbs. She fishes out a bleach wipe from one of her desk drawers and comes around the side of the desk, leans over to clean it off. She expects Brenda to move away, but she just sits very still. She smells like sweet perfume and alcohol. 

She tosses the wipe into the trash, and sits back down. Brenda is staring at her, and she’s not sure what to say next, so she blurts, “Are you wearing perfume?” 

“Um,” Brenda says. She blushes, reaches up and touches her curls nervously. They’re pulled back into a tight ponytail. “One of my lawyer friends at work says women should wear perfume when they go to court.” She makes a face. “She said it influences the judge and the jury and the lawyers, makes them subconsciously remember our femininity or something. Load of bull in my opinion.” 

Sharon says, “But you did take her advice.” 

“Yeah,” Brenda says, avoiding her eyes. 

“Well, you look...” she says. The words hang there for a moment, until Brenda glances back at her. “You look good.” 

“I look like I’m wearing something you’d wear.” 

They get the requisite conversation about Brenda’s new job out of the way within just a few minutes. She evades every question and gives only vague non-answers, so Sharon decides to take a different tack before she’s learned much more than that Brenda is “consulting” and one or more law enforcement agencies are involved. 

“How did you know we’d be here?” she asks. 

“I went to your place to see you,” Brenda admits. She has the grace to look a bit sheepish. Sharon wonders if she got her address from Chief Howard or some other way. “I ran into Rusty, and he told me you rolled out—” 

“You talked to Rusty?” she asks incredulously. 

“Sure,” Brenda says, looking away again. 

“How did that go?” 

“Well, I’d charmed my way into the building. Figured once I was at your door you’d have to let me in. Very bad security at that place, you know. You should probably write a letter.” 

Sharon rolls her eyes. 

“Anyway, I knocked and he looked out at me and he asked what I was doing there, said I’m a bitch for never answering his emails.” 

They’re silent for a moment, and then Sharon says, “I’m sorry, he shouldn’t have—” 

“No!” Brenda interrupts, pulling agitatedly at her ponytail. “No, he’s right. I was a bitch to him, to you, to the whole squad.” 

Sharon stares.

“I told Rusty I’m sorry, that I didn’t forget about him. That when I worked at the DA’s office I asked Fritz about him all the time, which is true. Of course Fritz cares too, but when he’d poke around for more details from you or Provenza it was for me, because I felt so guilty the way I left things. I had to know things turned out okay. And I knew he would be all right, when I heard—” her voice catches a little, “—when I heard it was you taking care of him. I never could have done what you’ve done for him, any of it. I couldn’t even write him an email.” 

Sharon wants to reply, even opens her mouth to say something. Maybe to reassure Brenda that it’s okay, even though it’s not, really, or to thank her for the compliment. But nothing comes out. And it doesn’t matter because she’s not looking at Sharon anyway, she’s looking down at her tightly clasped hands. 

“He tried again,” she says in a wretched little whisper. “Maybe a year ago. He was telling me about these letters he’d gotten. I could tell he was really scared because he tried calling—I guess he kept my number. And he texted me, trying to get me to call back. And I tried, but I—I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face all of it again, couldn’t go back to dreaming about Stroh every night, sleeping curled up on the bathroom floor with my gun, thinkin’ if he slashed through the screen maybe I could catch him by surprise. 

“Then I got a letter, too, like the ones Rusty described. I never—never found the right time to tell Fritz about it. I never told him, or anyone, never reported it. I burned it. Then I got another one, and I burned that one, too. I didn’t even read it. I know—I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I thought maybe if I just ignored it, the—” she cuts herself off here, releases a great shuddering breath, “—the flashbacks would stop again.” 

She looks up at Sharon and her eyes are wide and wet and honest (and glossy, and her pupils are hugely dilated). 

“I started seeing a shrink,” she says, the words spilling out. “When I quit this job, I also skipped out on the counseling after shooting Stroh—I guess I was just trying to run away from everything that happened that night. When I saw myself ignoring Rusty, deleting the voicemail he’d left without listening to it—it was like I was watching someone else do it. Someone I hated. I didn’t want to be her.” 

It seems like that’s it, like she has nothing else to say. Her face is earnest and it’s asking, Are we okay? Is my trauma reason enough for all I’ve done? 

Sharon licks her lips. She says, “You told Rusty all that?” 

“Well, more or less,” Brenda says cautiously. “I glossed over some parts. Wouldn’t want to be the one to give the kid nightmares if he doesn’t have ‘em already. He let me in after that, told me he was seeing a shrink too. Seemed kinda excited to hear someone else he knows is getting their head examined. He helped me order the pizzas on his phone, and I left him a couple hundred dollars of credit on his little food app.” 

“Hmm,” Sharon says thoughtfully. “That kind of makes it sound like what happened is that you bribed him to forgive you.” 

Brenda gasps. “How dare you impugn my character like that? There was no bribery involved. Maybe I did give him some dirt I have on Emma Rios, but that’s not a bribe either, that’s just good old-fashioned gossip.” 

Brenda leaves the door to the office wide open when she goes to grab herself a second donut, and Sharon steadfastly ignores the curious stares from her squad. She checks her text messages to see if she’s missed anything from Rusty, but there’s nothing. If Brenda made him uncomfortable or seemed erratic when she saw him, he would have texted, probably something vague like, i just saw brenda?? she was being super weird

The second donut is chocolate with sprinkles, and Brenda eats it voraciously, unselfconsciously. 

“Were you drunk when you spoke with Rusty?” Sharon asks, trying to keep her tone light. 

Brenda looks at her defensively. She’s jammed half the donut into her mouth and it’s a minute before she can speak again. She says, “I’m not drunk. After court, Andrea and I got dinner and I had a couple glasses of wine.” 

“And then?” 

“… Then we met up with Chloe at a bar and they told me about their commitment ceremony coming up—they’re not getting married, now that they can?—so we had a margarita to celebrate before I took off.” 

“Andrea says Chloe doesn’t believe in marriage,” Sharon says off-handedly. “Something about having been burnt once.” 

Brenda thinks for a second and then says slowly, “Can’t really argue with that.” 

“No.” 

They look at each other in silence. 

“Listen, it takes more than three drinks to get me drunk these days,” Brenda scoffs at last. 

Relatable

“Anyway, I took an Uber everywhere,” she gripes, and she stuffs the other half of the donut in her mouth inelegantly, saying as she chews, “I thought you got less uptight when you took this job, not more.” 

Brenda still hasn’t broached why she’s here, right now, in Sharon’s office. Why had she wanted to see her on a Friday night, gone so far as to go to her condo, then all the way to PAB? Not to mention distracting the squad with food. 

After Chief Howard came back in July to start his new job, the few times their divisions worked together he treated her with a cool professional distance, almost too cool—as though he bought into the old rumors about her. But whenever she can catch his eye, she sees the desire still there. Two weeks ago they were standing in the command tent during a critical missing, and he put his hand on her elbow for just the briefest of seconds when no one else was looking, rubbing his thumb along her forearm and setting her body on fire. It’s hard to think this surprise visit doesn’t have anything to do with him, but he hasn't been brought up except in passing. 

Brenda’s licking the chocolate frosting from her fingers, and she doesn’t seem eager to speak again. 

“Listen, Chief,” Sharon says carefully. “As much as I enjoy having you here in my office eating donuts, I can’t help but think you’ve got something on your mind.” 

After a beat, Brenda leans forward. She says, her voice almost a purr, “I do, Sharon. That night.” 

That night

Sharon swallows. “I certainly hope,” she starts, “what transpired between myself and Chief Howard hasn’t made things awkward.” 

Brenda says, “Because y’all work together now? Is he actin’ funny? You know, I told him not to take this job. He already couldn’t look half my squad in the eye, and now you—” 

Sharon wants to clarify, to say she meant she hopes things weren’t awkward between Brenda and Chief Howard. But instead she says, “Your squad?” 

Brenda huffs. “Sorry, your squad.” 

“No, I mean—” Sharon shakes her head impatiently. Maybe, hopefully she misunderstood. “You two—with the squad?” 

But the guilty expression on Brenda’s face answers her question well enough. 

“Oh my God.” 

“You don’t have to say it like it’s—” 

“Scandalous? Unethical? A breach of your sworn—” 

“Whoa now,” Brenda says, holding her hands up. “We never did a thing, not one thing until after I quit. There’s nothin’ unethical about that. And anyhow, what about you and Flynn?” 

“I—We—I haven’t—” 

Brenda stares with a faint, curious smile on her face. 

“We’ve never—He and I are just friends.” 

Letting out a low whistle, Brenda shakes her head. “That’s not what I heard.” 

Sharon wants to get away, as far away from this topic as possible. She looks at the door to her office, says, the words tumbling out, “Which—Who did you…?” 

Brenda smirks, tilts back her chair a little. “I don’t kiss and tell.” 

Fine. Good. She really doesn’t want to know. Definitely doesn’t need to picture that when she looks at her team. 

Chief Howard does kiss and tell, though. At least, he tells his wife. 

“That morning after, when he flew in…” Brenda says, giving a little shiver, “He normally always looks so put together, even when he’s getting off a plane. But he came home and I was waiting for him. He staggered through the door and looked like he'd gotten hit by a tornado. At first I actually thought he'd been drinkin', that's how it seemed. But no, he was sober.” 

Sharon remembers how he’d left, flustered and sweaty. 

“I could smell you on him.” 

Brenda worries at one of the buttons on her blazer, darts her tongue out to moisten her dry lips. Sharon’s eyes follow the movement attentively. 

“He held me and kissed me. He was talking, telling me how sexy you were, how good you felt around him.” 

They’re looking into each other’s eyes. Sharon can see what Brenda wants. She knows now why she came, and it wasn’t to absolve herself. 

“Yeah?” she says dumbly. 

“We did it right there,” Brenda says. Her voice is so soft, so sweet. “Up against the door.” 

“Oh.” 

“He was whispering in my ear the whole time about what he had done to you, what he hadn’t had time to do, what he still wanted, what we should do to you together.” 

She swallows. Together. 

Brenda leans a bit further over the desk and says in a little whisper, “It was the best sex we ever had.” 

Christ. Sharon’s eyelids flutter closed. She’s holding hard onto the armrests of her chair and squeezing her thighs together tightly. Brenda is silent for a while, and when Sharon opens her eyes again, she’s sitting back in her chair and regarding Sharon with amusement. 

“How’d he get you to go along with it?” she asks innocently. 

“He didn’t tell you that part?” 

“No, his retelling skipped right to the action,” Brenda says. “Believe it or not.” 

Sharon can’t help but crack a smile at that. She feels heat flood her face when she says, “He started by rubbing my shoulders.” 

“Oh no. You didn’t fall for that old trick, did you?” 

She says, “He told me it was your trick.” 

Feigning outrage, Brenda says, “Ooh, he’s a dirty liar. He tried it out on me back at Parker Center when we first started sleeping together, but he didn’t think to close the blinds first. Twenty minutes in he leans down and asks if I’m wet, and I say, ‘No, Provenza’s been staring at us from his desk the whole time.’” 

Sharon snorts. Brenda eyes her keenly. 

“So then what happened?” 

Embarrassedly, she prefaces, “Listen, I swear this line didn’t work on me. I made fun of him after he said it.” 

Brenda keeps staring at her with those dark eyes. 

“He said I seemed tense, and an orgasm could help.” 

After another moment, Brenda breaks into peals of laughter. Says, “Bless his heart. I guess he didn’t realize that line works better on men.” 

According to Brenda, Chief Howard has brought up Sharon’s name several times since June. “But he’s real uptight with his ‘don’t shit where you eat’ policy. Tells me he never once ‘liaised’ with anyone else at the FBI. Not sure I believe him. Almost 30 years at the same job and you’re gonna do at least one of those people. Guaranteed.” 

Brenda is the reigning expert between them on workplace affairs, so Sharon doesn’t argue. 

“He does fantasize about you, though,” she sighs, sounding wistful. “It makes the sex real good.” 

Sharon feels that familiar warmth pooling low in her belly. “Do you two often talk about his—other partners?” 

A lazy grin spreads across Brenda’s face. “Not really. If it’s someone we both know, sometimes. If they’re my type too.” 

Sharon can see Brenda’s eyes slip away from her gaze, trail deliberately down to her lips, then her cleavage. She lingers there for a long time, much longer than any man dares to. It takes everything in Sharon not to squirm under that look. 

Finally, Brenda tears her eyes away and looks back up. She says, breathlessly, “It’s not just him, I’ve been thinking about it too. Have you?” 

Has she thought about that night? Has she thought about sex with Chief Howard? Has she thought about sex with Brenda? She thinks about all the nights with Roger and the sexless dates with Flynn and she says, “Yes. All the time.” 

Brenda reaches out and grabs Sharon’s wrist. Her fingers are sticky, but Sharon doesn’t seem to mind right this second. She holds her there, leans over the desk, and kisses her. It’s not a sweet, demure kiss. It’s a sloppy, wet, demanding one. She’s holding Sharon’s wrist so hard her fingers are digging into the skin. But Sharon can’t feel it, can’t feel anything but Brenda’s lips, her open mouth, her tongue and teeth. 

After Brenda’s pulled away, leaving her breathless, she says, “I thought we weren’t supposed to kiss.” 

At first, Brenda doesn’t seem to know what she means, but then she ducks her head and laughs. “No, that’s my rule for Fritz. He doesn’t care who I kiss. In fact, I think this is something he’d like to see for himself.” 

“Oh,” Sharon says. Her eyes wander back down to Brenda’s wet lips, shimmering with spit and gloss. 

Brenda leans forward again. Sharon’s eyes close in anticipation, but Brenda doesn’t kiss her. 

“You know what really got me off that night, Sharon?” she asks. Her voice is husky, she breathes the words right into Sharon’s ear. 

“What?” 

“The way you cried out Chief.” 

Sharon can’t reply, because Brenda is sucking on her neck. She wonders if Chief Howard told Brenda she likes this, if he whispered it to her as they fucked up against their front door. She shudders, raises her free hand to thread her fingers through Brenda’s hair. 

“I have to admit I was a little jealous of him,” she mumbles, moving to suck on a spot right at Sharon’s throat. “I never got to make you moan my rank.” 

She moves again to another spot. Sharon manages to choke out, “Didn’t know—that’s something you wanted.” 

Brenda smiles against her skin for a moment. She says, “God, yes. I hated you, but I wanted you. I’d go home real riled up, angry and horny.” 

“Oh,” Sharon says, sounding a little strangled. 

“I’d corner him wherever he was and I’d give him this kiss—” 

Brenda kisses Sharon again, needy and desperate and all tongue. She moans into Sharon’s mouth and Sharon tingles all over. 

“I’d say, ‘Right here, right where we’re standing,’” she murmurs against Sharon’s lips. 

“Oh,” Sharon says again. This time it’s more like a whimper. 

“He’d say, ‘Did you see Captain Raydor again?’” 

She sucks on Sharon’s lower lip. Her fingers are undoing the buttons on Sharon’s blouse. 

“He’d say, ‘Did Raydor give me this pussy today?’” 

Sharon feels Brenda’s words go right to her core, clenches her thighs. “Jesus.” 

Brenda dips, she kisses the new skin, sucks in a breath when she sees Sharon’s bra, the lacy red number she wore expecting to be on a date right now. Or maybe getting fucked senseless, by this time of the night. 

Her blazer and blouse are pushed off, and they bunch behind her on the chair. 

“I s’pose after all that talk about you, he wanted to try for himself,” Brenda says. She palms Sharon’s breasts lightly through her bra, a sweet teasing touch. She says in Sharon’s ear, “Was he good?” 

She doesn’t hesitate. She says, “Yes.” 

“He made you come.” 

It’s not a question, but she says again, “Yes.” 

“You think about doing it again?” 

Brenda is licking her ear now, making it impossible to concentrate enough to answer. 

“Think about going down to his office and bending over his desk too?” 

“Ah,” she says inarticulately. 

“Tell me what you wanna do to him.” 

“I want—” She licks her lips. “I want to suck his cock.” 

Brenda laughs, can probably feel how warm, how embarrassed, how turned on she is. Her nails are digging hard into Sharon’s sides. 

“I want you to tell him.” 

Sharon listens to her heart thump as Brenda dials Chief Howard’s cell number. She’s come over to Sharon’s side of the desk and is perched on it daintily. Not a hair has escaped her perfect ponytail. 

They can hear it ring, and then he picks up. Brenda shoves the phone into her hand. 

“Captain,” he says coolly. “Do you know what time it is here?” 

Sharon’s eyes flick up to Brenda’s face. Brenda is examining her nails interestedly. They’re painted blush pink. 

“I’m sorry, sir,” she says, and almost bites her tongue. “I hope I didn’t wake you.” 

“No,” he says. But he sounds tired. She can imagine him scrubbing his face with his hand. “What can I do for you?” 

“Um,” she says. “I’m here with your wife.” 

“Oh,” he says. Then his voice drops. “Oh. I didn’t realize it was that kind of call.” 

She doesn’t say anything. 

“Listen, I’m in a hotel room with three other guys from my division,” he whispers. “After Brenda left I came back to stay with them. Taylor said this was supposed to be some kind of team-building thing, so I wanted to set a good example.” 

“Um,” she says. 

He goes back to speaking at normal volume, to that terse tone. 

“Captain, I advise you to make this quick,” he says. 

“Chief,” she says. Brenda is watching her face now, nodding. “Your wife wanted me to tell you that I’ve been thinking about you.” 

“Is that so?” he asks, “Anything specific?” 

She says, “I have this fantasy about going down to SOB. Maybe in the morning, when all your people are still wandering around the bullpen trying to wake up.” 

“Mmm,” he says. 

“I’d come into your office and lock the door,” she says, “and drop to my knees.” 

“Ah,” he says, a little roughly. Then he clears his throat, says a little louder, “That sounds like an excellent idea. I advise you put it into action immediately.” 

He lowers his voice again, says, “Listen, I’d love to keep talking to you. Believe me. But the guys want to sleep. Be a good girl now and give the phone to Brenda.” 

Sharon feels like maybe she should bristle at this, but instead she feels a flush and a flood of wetness on her thighs as she hands the phone over. 

“Hi honey … Really, the LAPD can’t do better than four to a room? My God, Will is such a tight-ass … Are they cute at least? … Okay, well, we can’t be loud anyway since the squad is here … Call me when you can get back to the condo for a few hours, no matter what time.” 

The squad is here. Those words mean something normally, something important, but Sharon can’t think about that right now. Brenda is staring at Sharon while she speaks, and Sharon is staring at Brenda’s lips, at her pristine blazer and skirt, at the silky white blouse. She reaches out and runs her fingers along it, feels Brenda shiver under her touch. 

Sharon is distracted by the way Brenda’s free hand is moving, stroking along her own body. Brenda thumbs her nipple and makes a little noise. Sharon wonders if this is for her or for Chief Howard. 

Brenda’s hand slips down now, all the way down to the hem of her skirt. She grasps it, starts slowly pulling it up. Sharon watches Brenda reveal her bare legs inch by inch. The skirt is almost there, almost all the way up, she can see the way Brenda’s thighs dip— 

She realizes Brenda has been speaking to her, and she looks up, says distractedly, “What?” 

“I said, can you eat pussy, Sharon?” 

They stare at each other for a long moment. “Um,” she says, “It’s been a while.” 

Brenda puts the receiver back to her mouth, says, “She does, honey.” Her hand resumes moving then, blissfully. Sharon catches just the briefest look at Brenda’s white panties before she’s pulling them down and off her legs all the way, kicking them onto the floor. Then she leans back against the desk, her skirt fluttering down. 

Sharon lets out a little groan of disappointment. Brenda is still speaking into the phone, but she can’t hear that at all. All she can hear is her blood rushing in her ears. Brenda is touching her face now, with that same hand she used to take off her panties. She’s holding onto Sharon’s jaw, forcing her to look up. 

Is she saying something to Sharon? She’s staring, talking low into the phone. 

They’re talking about her, Sharon realizes. 

“Red and lacy,” Brenda murmurs. She tweaks Sharon’s erect nipple through her bra. “You think she’s got on a matching set?” 

“I do,” Sharon admits breathlessly, even though she isn’t asked. She wants Brenda to know, wants them both to know. 

“Let’s see.” Brenda says. She licks her lips, adds, “But leave on the heels.”  

“Yes, Chief.” She stands shakily, watching Brenda breathe hard into the phone. She imagines Chief Howard on the other end. Is he holed up in the hotel bathroom trying to stop the other guys from listening in? Is he on one of the beds, his legs crossed uncomfortably, trying to stave off an erection? 

Sharon reaches back, unzips her skirt. Roger has a thing, a big thing, for lingerie. But this isn’t for Roger anymore. She pushes the skirt down to the floor and steps out of it. 

“Uh-huh,” Brenda says into the phone. “Pretty tarty for work, but maybe she had better plans tonight.” 

There’s nothing Sharon would rather be doing, she thinks, than standing here with Brenda’s eyes raking over her. 

“Turn around,” Brenda says, and when she obliges, “God, that’s sexy. She’s got on a garter belt, with thigh-highs … Black … Yeah, you should see the way the straps fall across her ass … It is, isn’t it?” 

Sharon squirms as Brenda evaluates her aloud. 

“Makes me want to bend her over and eat it,” Brenda purrs into the phone. 

She feels her knees turn to jelly, and she braces herself against the wall. She’s suddenly sure she’ll do anything Brenda wants, let Brenda do anything she wants to her. Sharon looks over her shoulder and catches Brenda’s eye and says without thinking, “Send him a picture.” 

It takes Brenda longer than Sharon expects to send Chief Howard the picture with her phone. She’s relatively competent with the camera, but attaching the photo to a text message seems to be slightly beyond her. Sharon resists the urge to snatch the phone and do it herself, but she does come closer and lean over just to make absolutely sure Brenda is sending it to the right person. 

At last the message has been sent off to Chief Howard, and Brenda shoves the phone back into the depths of her purse without waiting on a reply. She plops down into Sharon’s chair and looks up at her and says, “On your knees.” 

Sharon drops down to her knees without thinking and settles between Brenda’s legs. Brenda leans down, kisses her hard. Once, twice. She’s sloppy, some of her kisses hit the side of Sharon’s mouth, her cheek or her jaw, and she still tongues there, scrapes with her teeth, still groans hotly against her skin. 

“You’re gorgeous,” she whispers, tracing her fingers ever so lightly across the lace of Sharon’s bra. 

Sharon covers Brenda’s hand with hers, places it more firmly on her breast until Brenda squeezes. “All for you,” she says. She’s forgotten who else she would ever wear this for, who else she would ever want to touch her like this again. 

Her face is wet with Brenda’s spit. Maybe she should feel degraded, but instead she feels irresistible, feels like it’s okay if she can’t control herself because Brenda clearly can’t either. Brenda’s sucking on her chin, her jaw, her collarbone, leaving hot wet trails of saliva behind. 

Brenda’s breathing so fast now, she’s clutching a handful of Sharon’s hair and pulling towards her lap and saying urgently, “Need your mouth.” 

“Yes,” Sharon says. She feels Brenda’s hand leave her, sees those perfect pink nails as she clutches the armrests of her chair. 

Sharon places her hands on Brenda’s knees, slides them gently higher. Her legs are smooth and bare and soft. She kisses Brenda’s inner thigh. Not like the needy, demanding kisses Brenda gave her. Just a sweet venerative brush of her lips. Brenda lets out the barest whisper of a sigh, and spreads her legs. 

In an instant, Sharon’s transported back to spring 1978, to the sorority house, drunk on wine spritzers and lying in a bed with Joanne Fuller. It’s 94 degrees and they’re topless and she has long, long blond hair that Sharon can’t stop touching. Joanne asks her if the rumors that she’s a dyke are true, then kisses her. Sharon is 21 and this is the first time she's kissed a girl, but not wanting to seem inexperienced, she puts her tongue in Joanne’s mouth and a shaking hand on her thigh. 

“Oh,” Sharon sighs as she pushes Brenda’s skirt up past her waist. Her pussy is glistening and bare except for a wispy blond landing strip. 

They meet eyes. Sharon brushes her thumb against Brenda’s swollen clit, listens to her breathe in sharply. Brenda’s hand is there in an instant, circling again around Sharon’s wrist. 

Eat,” she says. 

They stare for one second more, and Brenda tightens her fingers. Sharon dips her head down, licks a long stripe up Brenda’s pussy. The grip on her wrist is gone immediately, and there’s Brenda’s hand in her hair, holding her down. Brenda has one foot planted on the floor, and she’s pushing up, grinding into Sharon’s mouth. The taste, the smell is heady and thick, and Sharon willingly loses herself in it, moaning against Brenda’s skin. 

“That’s it,” Brenda says. “Just like that.” 

Sharon whines, she clutches Brenda’s thighs as she laps at her, she lets herself be used. She lets Brenda pull her head up, jerking her hair painfully and pushing her clit into her mouth instead. 

“Suck,” she says. 

Fastening her lips around Brenda’s clit, she flicks her tongue against it experimentally. The fingers in her hair pull hard. She can hear Brenda’s breath, loud and wet and ragged. It quickens when Sharon tongues her clit, catches when Sharon sucks it. Her thighs feel so loose, so pliable under Sharon’s fingers. 

Sharon pulls Brenda closer to the edge of the chair, urges Brenda’s knees over her shoulders. Before she can be instructed she leans down, places a line of chaste kisses up Brenda’s slit. She follows this with a soft lick, then sucks Brenda’s clit into her mouth again, laving the underside with her tongue. This draws out a little whimper, and she can feel Brenda’s thumb stroking her temple softly, encouragingly. 

Suckling Brenda’s clit, Sharon grazes her fingertips across Brenda’s trembling inner thighs. Brenda is squirming now, trying to make her vary up the pressure. 

She pulls her mouth away, replaces her fingertips with her lips, kissing Brenda’s left thigh, then the right. 

“Sharon—” 

Sharon sucks on the skin of Brenda’s inner thigh, nips it with her teeth. 

“More.” 

Brenda’s pushing down on her head again, but she’s not trying to move it. So Sharon bites the same spot again harder, feels fingernails digging hard into her scalp, hears the shudder of Brenda’s breath. She sucks the skin again. She won’t be the only person marked this time. 

She switches sides, kisses Brenda’s right thigh and sucks on the skin there. Brenda tenses up then, expecting the feeling of Sharon’s teeth, but Sharon dips her head back down and begins tonguing her again. She’s dripping wet, Sharon can feel her cheeks and chin and eyelids are sticky but she doesn’t care, doesn’t care about anything now but making Brenda into a screaming, sobbing mess. 

“Chief,” she moans, her lips still pressed against Brenda’s heat, “You taste so good.” 

They catch eyes; Brenda’s are so dark they’re almost black. 

“Make me finish,” she says. “I wanna touch you.” 

Sharon feels a hard hot throb between her legs and clenches them together. She wants so badly to reach down and touch herself, but instead she strokes Brenda’s clit with her thumb, hard and fast, holding onto her hip with the other hand. She gives a few more gentle licks, then hardens her tongue and slides it inside. 

“God, Sharon. That’s it, fuck me.” 

Throb

She pistons her tongue in and out erratically, unable to match time with the thumb she’s rubbing against Brenda’s clit. She can’t think anymore, just move on pure instinct, edging Brenda closer and closer until— 

The pull on Sharon’s scalp hurts in a wonderful, perfect way. She can feel Brenda contracting around her tongue and she keeps it pressed inside, wanting to feel, wanting to taste everything. 

“Fritz is a real idiot,” Brenda murmurs. “Not even undressin’ you right.” 

Sharon’s up against the desk, and Brenda is kissing over the bare skin of her shoulders, her collarbones, her cleavage. She’s unhooking Sharon’s bra and tossing it away and staring, cupping, nuzzling, sucking a nipple into her mouth and flicking it with her tongue. Sharon is gripping the edge of the desk, arching into Brenda’s touch. 

She presses a kiss on Sharon’s sternum, says, “He’s always doing it to me, too. Bending me over and just pushing my skirt up.” 

There’s an attempt at making a coherent reply, but instead Sharon just lets out a groan. 

Brenda sucks on her other nipple now, trails fingers over her lower stomach. 

“I want to see all of you,” she says, and she pushes Sharon’s panties down. She drops to her knees and ever-so-gently helps Sharon step out of them, sliding an exploratory hand up her stockinged leg and over the strap of the garter. 

Then she steps back, and the contact is gone. She’s looking at Sharon, and for the first time since they kissed, Sharon feels self-conscious. A flush is spreading across her chest. Brenda is so small, so smooth, and Sharon can’t even remember the last time she’s shaved anything but her legs and armpits. 

Brenda must realize she’s been quiet a second too long. “Sorry, I was just thinkin’—” she looks down, lets out a laugh, “I was thinkin’ when I looked at you, ‘Damn, I gotta start exercising.’ Because you look so… tight, and I’m so…” 

She makes a blah gesture. 

Sharon raises her eyebrows. Brenda is skin and bones as far as she remembers, but then she is still wearing all her clothes now. Maybe her metabolism is finally catching up with her. 

“I’ll write out my regimen for you,” she says dryly. 

Brenda’s eyes narrow, she comes closer again, sets her hands on either side of Sharon’s on the edge of the desk. “You wear those panties to work often?” 

Sharon looks at her evenly. “I was supposed to have a date tonight.” 

“With…?” Brenda jerks her head towards the office door. 

“No,” she says, and cringes only a little. “A guy from my church.” 

“Hmm,” Brenda says. She leans down, drops a kiss to Sharon’s shoulder. “That what you wear for bible study?” 

Brenda spends an inordinate amount of time exploring Sharon’s breasts with her fingertips, her palms, her lips and tongue, like she wants to memorize them. Sharon’s nipples are so hard they hurt, and her thighs are slippery wet, but Brenda won’t touch her there. 

“Not yet,” she says, and she pins Sharon’s hands down onto the desk, she tongues a long hot stripe up her sternum. 

She kisses down one of Sharon’s breasts, sucking the nipple back into her mouth. She lets out a little groan of pleasure that sends a jolt straight to Sharon’s clit. 

“Please, Chief.” 

Sharon grinds her hips forward, trying to find some friction, but Brenda leans away with a little laugh. She kisses Sharon’s lower stomach, just barely brushing Sharon’s curls with her chin. She ghosts her fingertips over Sharon’s thighs, over her hips, lingers on her breasts. 

“Hold my skirt up,” Brenda says. She rolls Sharon’s sensitized nipples between her fingers and says, “I want my hands free.” 

And Sharon wants Brenda’s hands free, too. She reaches down and grabs Brenda’s skirt in both hands, dragging it up her legs. She holds it bunched up at Brenda’s waist with one hand, and she plants the other on the naked curve of Brenda’s ass, pulling her closer. 

Brenda wedges her smooth thigh between Sharon’s legs, into her slick heat, and they both rock forward. One of them lets out a gasp, or maybe they both do, and they fall into a quick rhythm. Sharon’s setting it with the hand she has on Brenda’s ass—Brenda’s letting her set it, letting her grind them together as she plays with Sharon’s chest single-mindedly. 

“So sexy,” she murmurs, flattening her tongue and dragging it over Sharon’s nipple. They’re dark now from being pinched and sucked. “So perfect.” 

Sharon shivers, rocks Brenda against her harder, feels her swollen clit pulse against Brenda’s thigh. She wants Brenda inside her, but she doesn’t want her to stop what she’s doing, doesn’t want Brenda’s hands anywhere but her breasts ever again. 

But they’re gone a second later, Brenda is wrapping her arms around Sharon and kissing her, grinding against her. Sharon’s nipples drag against Brenda’s starchy blazer and it hurts and it feels incredible and she can feel herself gushing on Brenda’s skin. It feels electrifying when their tongues touch, they both instinctively fit themselves even closer together, they both want to feel all of each other. 

“So close,” Sharon says breathlessly, finally breaking their kiss. Her mouth is slick with Brenda’s spit and lipgloss, her own lipstick long-since smeared. “Harder.” 

After a few long, slow thrusts of Brenda’s hips she can feel herself peaking, can feel— 

A phone in the bullpen rings shrilly. One, two rings and it’s being answered, someone’s speaking in a low voice. 

Sharon stills, stares at the door. 

“Sharon…” Brenda breathes hot on her neck. “There’s nothing out there.” 

She rolls her hips forward again. 

“Be with me here.” 

She tilts Sharon’s head back and sucks at her throat, and Sharon can’t help giving a little cry. 

“We’re the only two people.” 

Her lips touch Sharon’s ear. 

“Just you and me.” 

Sharon groans. 

“Making each other come.” 

They meet each other thrust for thrust until they at last settle at the perfect angle, just grinding, rotating their hips in tight little circles. 

“Come for me, baby,” Brenda says. 

“Oh God, Chief—” she cries, “Don’t stop.” 

“Come with me.” 

Sharon digs hard into Brenda’s skin with her fingers as she spasms, as Brenda moans into her neck, they rock hot and sticky against each other. She can’t hear anything anymore, she can’t see, all she can do is smell sex and feel that incredible aching pleasure radiating from her clit and feel Brenda’s beautiful quaking body, Brenda’s smooth wet pussy pressed against the strap of her garter belt. 

“So good,” she realizes Brenda is saying once her hearing starts to return. She’s stroking Sharon’s hair. “So good. So good.” 

“How do you still look perfect?” Sharon grumbles, staring at Brenda over the top of her compact. After fixing just her lips, Brenda looks like she walked out of court five minutes ago. Walked out of court and pounded two tequilas, but still better than Sharon. 

Sharon looks like she just got fucked. And kinda like she likes it rough. 

She uses a wipe to remove all of her makeup. It’s beyond fixing, and nobody in the Murder Room will notice it’s gone except maybe Sykes, and hopefully she’ll be tactful enough not to mention it. Or at the very least, enough of a suck-up. 

They might notice the rumpled clothes, but they’ve all been here for way too many hours. God knows they’ve got some rumples of their own by this point. 

Brenda is up again before Sharon can say anything, heading for the door. 

“What are you doing?” 

“Getting another donut,” Brenda says. And then, “If only I had a cigarette… Flynn still smoke these days?” 

“Not for a few years now.” 

“Shame,” Brenda says wistfully. “He smoked my old brand.” 

And she slips out, leaving the door wide open behind her. Sharon can see some people are packing up, and it looks like Tao has already gone. 

“I’m so sorry if y’all heard any of that,” Brenda says, sounding far too chipper. “We really try to be friendly these days, but it can still get a little heated sometimes. I promise we kept our hands to ourselves.” 

Sharon bites her lip. 

“I guess there was no big break in the case?” Brenda asks sweetly. She’s holding another donut. It looks like an old-fashioned. 

“The goddamn morgue called us at 11:55 to say we’re not getting any results tonight,” Provenza says. 

“Ya think?” Flynn says. He’s got a toothpick in his mouth. Sharon wonders if he’s missing alcohol or cigarettes. Maybe he’s missing sex. She wonders if he’s seeing anyone else. It would be good if he were. 

“I don’t think Dr. Morales shares Chief Taylor’s priorities in this case, ma’am,” Sanchez says, nodding his head in the vague direction of Taylor’s office. 

“I watched the interview Hollywood did with the second victim’s parents,” Buzz adds, raising his hand halfway into the air. “They were very… churchy. The father kind of implied his daughter deserved what she got for, uh, turning her back on Christ.” 

Brenda nods slowly and says, “Well I suppose y’all can get along then. Sounds like your day starts bright and early tomorrow. Go on, bye now. Bye-bye.” 

She herds out the team. Most of them allow it to happen, and Sykes says, “Yes, Chief.” Flynn pops his head in the doorway to her office and Sharon waves him off. 

“Tomorrow,” she says, and they both cringe at how dismissive she sounds. 

He follows everyone else out. “Chief,” he says to Brenda as he passes, giving a mock salute. 

Brenda returns to the office. She’s finished off her donut already. 

“I’ll walk you out. We can take down the rest of the food. Give it to the boys at the desk or you can take it home for Rusty.” 

They stand next to Sharon’s car for a few minutes chatting. 

“Do you want a ride to your…?” It occurs to her that she doesn’t know where Brenda is staying. Surely they don’t still rent that place where she shot Stroh. 

“No,” Brenda says. “Our apartment is the opposite way from your place.” 

“Okay,” Sharon says. They linger there for a few moments in silence, looking at one another. Then, she blurts, “How’d he get you to go along with it?” 

Brenda snorts, ducks her head. “You mean how’d he get me into bed for the first time?” 

“Mm,” Sharon says agreeably. 

When Brenda looks up again, her face and neck and chest are bright pink. She mumbles, “We were kissing outside my door, saying goodbye after a date.” 

“Uh-huh.” 

“Then he told me he has a big dick.” 

It’s hard, really hard, but Sharon bites her lip and manages not to laugh. 

“How was I supposed to let him just leave after saying that and not make him prove it?” Brenda asks heatedly. 

“My God, you’re easy.” 

Brenda looks like she wants to be mad, but they both let out a few giggles. Then Brenda leans up and gives Sharon a kiss on the cheek. Sharon turns her head, catches Brenda’s lips. It’s a sweet closed-mouth goodbye kiss, like one between freshmen on a first date. 

“Bye,” Sharon says. 

“Bye.” 

Sharon watches Brenda walk to the stairs. She turns before going down, giving Sharon a little three-finger wave. 

I will never see that woman again in my life.