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Endear You To Me

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It was Tuesday morning and Sharon Raydor was walking on air.  Her weekend had been excellent - a Saturday afternoon Russian film double feature where Brenda Leigh had kept her in stitches with alternate translations for the onscreen subtitles (much to the consternation of the other filmgoers), and then sushi at Haru, which they had drawn out into coffee and some light petting on the couch at Sharon’s. 

Sunday, they spent much of the evening on the phone after Brenda had called Sharon: “cuz I needed to hear your voice,” Brenda had said. 

Sharon had been happy to oblige, and they talked about nothing - the pernicious mold in Brenda’s shower, what sort of car Sharon might get now that the lease on her personal vehicle was up, where Brenda wanted to go to dinner this week - before sitting down to mutually view and tear apart a crime procedural.  When the show was over, Brenda confessed that her cell phone was making her ear sweat and that the next time it was a weekend and she wanted to hear Sharon’s voice, she was going to get in her car and come over.

“Yes.” Sharon had said.  “Yes.” Then she paused, considering.  “Why don’t you come over for dinner again tomorrow.  Just let me know what time to expect you.”

“I’d really like that.” Brenda shyly admitted.  “You’ll let me know if anything changes; if you catch a case?”

“Of course.”  Sharon paused again, not ready to say good night, so she listened to Brenda breathe for a few moments.  “Goodnight, Brenda Leigh.”

“You too, Shari.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Dinner Monday night had been as lovely as all the other meals they had shared, though Brenda had been rolled out to a crime scene in the middle of their make-out session.  The blonde actually growled and bared her teeth at her phone as she pulled her hands from where they were cupping Sharon’s breasts to answer it.  Even left panting on her couch as Brenda Leigh stomped out to her car, Sharon couldn’t help but smile. 

Despite being distracted by a murder, Brenda had thought to dash off a text message shortly after 11:


Lunch tomorrow?  I’ll need to see your face after this one.  I might even need a hug.


Certainly.  Leftovers in my break room whenever you can manage.


You’re sweet.  I’ll see you then.  And can we make plans for this weekend?  If you want, I’d really like to have a day or two free to spend in bed with you.


Would you be offended if I told you that was a stupid question, Brenda Leigh?  I’ll take myself off the rollout list for the weekend first thing tomorrow.


Brenda Leigh Johnson never asks a stupid question, Sharon Raydor.  I’ll do the same for my communications list.   


Sharon had just set her bag down on her desk when every phone in her bullpen began ringing.  Her first thought was: shit, there goes lunch.

Elliot answered his phone and pursed his lips at whatever he was hearing.  He said something, and listened some more, then jotted something down and hung up before shuffling into the door of her office.

“Non-fatal OIS down in Major Crimes, Captain Raydor.”  Double, triple, quadruple shit.  She sighed.

“Bring everyone in here before we head downstairs, please Lieutenant.”  He nodded and turned away to gather his colleagues.

Sharon perched on the edge of her desk, her people arrayed in front of it.  She looked each of them in the eye, deliberately.  “This is nothing I haven’t said before, but I wanted to reiterate the importance of maintaining decorum and a modicum of distance from our investigations.  I know our last OIS was difficult for everyone, but keep your calm and let me handle any issues.”  They all nodded and began to file out. 

“Lieutenant Elliot,” she intoned softly.  He waited.  So well trained.

“I need you to take point on this.  Keep me informed, and let me handle the Chief - I assume she wasn’t the shooter?”

“No, Sanchez double tapped a raging suspect in the knee.”  Sharon made a frustrated noise.

“Don’t they keep tasers or stun guns down there?”

“From what Flynn just told me, the suspect managed to pull open a link on his handcuffs, shrugged off two hits from a taser and no one could get close enough to try to uh…disable him bodily, m’am.  Sanchez took the shots from close range, but that’s all I know.”

“Ok, Lieutenant, let’s get down to Major Crimes.”

When they arrived in the murder room, chaos reigned around the stretcher that was parked in the middle of the desks.  On it, a massive man in an orange corrections issue jumpsuit was laying on his back, and despite an immobilized and ice packed left knee, he was straining with very little leverage against what appeared to be full body chains. 

The paramedics were arguing strenuously with Lieutenants Flynn and Provenza about whether or not the shooting victim was secure enough to safely transport.  The paramedics were scared, and Sharon couldn’t blame them.  Elliot left her side, probably to begin his interviews, and Sharon waded into the verbal altercation.  Where was Brenda Leigh?

“Enough.” She said, just loud enough to be heard over the argument.  “Can you not sedate this man long enough to get him to the hospital?”  Flynn bobbed his head, apparently that had been his question, too.  Provenza just scowled at her.

“No m’am, Captain Raydor.”  One of the paramedics piped up, an older man.  “He’s got something else in his system.  He’s not responding normally to painful stimuli; his pupils are dilated.  I can’t sedate him without knowing what he’s taken, and he’s not talking.”  Sharon pursed her lips.

“Is he stable enough that you could transport him in a paddy wagon with a couple of officers?”

The paramedic shrugged.  “It’s against regs, but I don’t want this guy to smear me against the inside of my bus if he breaks those chains.”

“Let me make a call to prisoner transport and you can meet them in the parking garage.”  She turned to Flynn and Provenza.  “Gentleman, can you see to it that the paramedics and uh, Mr….”

“Hulk,” Flynn deadpanned.  Sharon bit her lip to keep a smile from showing. 

“Bowers, his name is Bowers.”  Provenza growled.

“Can you make sure that everyone makes it down to the garage in one piece, please?”  The Lieutenants nodded.  Sharon stepped away from Flynn and Provenza to use the phone.  She arranged for a paddy wagon and two transport officers armed with lethal and non-lethal weapons to accompany the prisoner to the E.R. of Cedars and remain there with him.  Sharon eyed Mr. Bowers’s knee.  God only knew what was going to happen with that.

“All set.”  The paramedics began wheeling the sweating, struggling man out of the murder room.  Flynn and Provenza made to follow.  “Lieutenant Flynn, a word, please.”  Flynn narrowed his eyes at Sharon and stepped closer.  Sharon kept her voice low.

“Is the Chief in her office?”  The look on Flynn’s face was openly questioning now.

“Yeaaa,” he said slowly.  “She’s in there with that dirtbag’s daughter.  We’re pretty sure that he beat his child’s mother and stepfather to death with his bare hands last night.  That damage to his knuckles didn’t come from what happened just now.  It’s all documented, too.”  Sharon nodded and then pushed her glasses up a bit and massaged the bridge of her nose.

“And they’re ok?  The Chief and the daughter?”

“Lucy’s her name.  A little shaken up, but unhurt.  Chief Johnson was talking to the daughter when the guy hulked out.  She put herself between the two of them.”  Sharon could feel the blood drain from her face.  Of course she did.  Brenda Leigh never hesitated to put herself between a victim and danger.

“Ok.”  Sharon pulled off her glasses completely.  “Ok.  Go catch up with the paramedics.  Make sure you and Provenza do your interviews with Elliot and Markham ASAP, please.  I would really like the focus off of this incident and back on your murders before the end of business today, alright?”

“Uh, ok, Captain.  I’ll keep that in mind.”  She smiled grimly at him, and turned to march towards Brenda Leigh’s office.

The blinds were all drawn and Sharon couldn’t hear any noise from within.  She knocked softly on the door and pushed it open.  The lights were off; Brenda was in her desk chair, cradling a sleeping girl of 6 or 7 in her lap.  Sharon slipped off her heels and crept on quiet feet to Brenda’s side.  Brenda looked absolutely shattered.  She was pale and her eyes were red rimmed, tension furrowed her brow and thinned her lips.  She bent to the blonde, who tilted her chin up and kissed Sharon fervently.  When she pulled away, Brenda’s eyes were shut, and Sharon could see tears well out from under her lashes.

“I’m so glad you’re ok, Brenda Leigh.”  Sharon whispered, as she threaded her fingers through the honeyed strands of hair at Brenda’s temple.  Brenda gulped and nodded, afraid she would start to sob if she spoke.

“Did your team locate Lucy’s next of kin?”  Brenda nodded again and then she took a few deep breaths.

“She has an aunt - the step-father’s sister, that we’ve not been able to reach.  And her maternal grandmother is flying in from Boise.  She’ll be here this afternoon.”  Tears were streaming down Brenda’s face in earnest now.  “She lost both her parents last night, Shari.  And this morning had a front row seat to a man getting tasered and shot.”  Sharon knelt next to the chair and slid an arm around Brenda’s shoulders.  God, she wished she could gather the blonde in her arms.

“Do you want to keep her with you, Brenda?”

“Yea.  Yea.  It’s only for a few hours, but I don’t want her to have stay here.  And I think I might need some time, too.  To check my head, you know?”  It was hard for Brenda to admit this; that she needed to step away from a case for a bit, that she was too emotionally invested.  Brenda knew in her gut, just like she knew when someone was lying, or holding something back, that Sharon Raydor could, and would help her with this.

“Ok, Brenda Leigh.”  Sharon’s voice was that husk that Brenda loved so much.  “Why don’t we both take a little lost time and get Lucy across the street for a check-up?  She’ll need one before we can release her to a family member, anyway.”  Sharon said softly.  “And then we can take her to my house, if you want.  To get her out of the murder room?  My team should have this OIS cleared up by the time her grandmother arrives.”

“I think I would like that, but don’t you have to deal with Sanchez?”  Brenda asked in a small voice. 

“Elliot is in charge of the investigation, Chief,” Sharon said rather tonelessly.  Then her voice softened; “I think you know why.”

“I feel selfish saying this, but I’m glad.”  Brenda smiled gratefully up at the brunette until a realization sobered her expression.  “It’ll probably have to be like this from now on, won’t it.  Elliot in charge of things if my squad is involved with an OIS or use of force?”

“I think so, yes.”  Sharon was wary; she wasn’t sure how Brenda would react to this realization.

“And you’re ok with that, Sharon?”  Brenda grabbed for one of Sharon’s hands.  “Your job is already hard enough.  Is this - are we, I mean - going to make your life worse?” 

Sharon leaned in for another kiss and said softly, “Brenda Leigh, whatever problems our relationship might cause at work, I am positive you are worth it.”  She trailed a finger down Brenda’s cheek and over the collar bone exposed by Brenda’s unbuttoned twinset. 

“We can talk about it more later,” Sharon said before standing and sliding her feet back into her shoes.

“Let me take Lucy.”  She lifted the girl from Brenda’s lap easily.  Lucy didn’t wake, just shifted her weight in Sharon’s arms and buried her face in the brunette’s neck.  Brenda stood and stretched, taking in the sight of her Captain cradling a child to her. 

“You don’t have your bag Sharon,” Brenda observed.  Sharon twisted her lips in a moue of distaste. 

“I didn’t think I’d need it.  Can you run up to my office?  I’ll meet you in the lobby.”  Brenda nodded, but before she gathered up her own purse, she pressed her body into Sharon’s back.  Sharon felt the blonde’s nose in her hair, heard her inhale deeply, felt Brenda’s palms slide along her blazer from shoulder blades to the outside of her thighs, then felt Brenda’s lips on the back of her neck.

“I know, Brenda Leigh, honey.  I know.”  Sharon cooed.  Brenda stepped back and sighed and scooped up her bag, striding out of the office.  Sharon took a deep breath and backed through the door to keep from disturbing the sleeping girl.  Elliot approached as soon as she exited the office.

“I hope you have things in hand, Lieutenant.  I’m going to be unavailable until this young lady’s next of kin comes to collect her.”  Elliot looked at her oddly but didn’t object.

“Ok, m’am.  I will contact you if we encounter any surprises, and I still need to interview Chief Johnson and Lieutenants Flynn and Provenza.”

“Chief Johnson will be unavailable till later as well, maybe until tomorrow.  The Lieutenants will be back as soon as transport has taken custody of the prisoner.”

“Yes m’am.  Should I contact Chief Johnson later today, or will you take her statement.”

“You or Markham can take it whenever she returns to the office.  If you can’t get a complete picture of what happened without it, call me and we’ll get it done sooner.”  Elliot nodded and returned to his duties.

Sharon stepped off the elevator in the lobby at the same time Brenda Leigh exited one of the other elevators.  She stepped close and they paused, alone together despite the hustle of Police HQ around them. 

“Is she still asleep, even with all this noise?”

“Playing possum, I think.”  Brenda gave her a wry grin at the expression. Flynn and Provenza approached from the entrance that lead to the HQ parking garage.

“Let me talk to them a minute and then I’ll pull the car around, Shari.” 

“Chief!” Provenza called; loud even over the usual hubbub of the lobby.  Flynn smacked him in the arm, hissed, and pointed to the sleeping child in Sharon’s arm.  Provenza shrugged and shuffled rapidly their way.  Brenda moved to intercept him.  Sharon’s arms were getting tired.  She widened her stance and shifted the girl around to her other hip.

“Chief, where are you going?” Provenza was whispering urgently, like they were in some sort of secret huddle.  “Is Captain Raydor taking you off the case?  What about Sanchez?”  Brenda narrowed her eyes at him.

“I wouldn’t want to insult your steel trap of a memory and remind you of the conversation we had in my conference room a few days ago.”  Provenza averted his eyes and shook his head.  “Captain Raydor and I are taking Lucy for her mandatory physical.  I won’t be back until later.  You both will report for your FID interviews as soon as you get back upstairs.”  Provenza spluttered and looked like he was going to protest.

“No, Lieutenant.  It will be done, and there will be no complaints or shenanigans, or there will be consequences.”  Provenza scowled, threw up his hands, and shuffled off to the elevator.

“I’ll keep an eye on him, Chief.” Andy supplied helpfully.  “Will you be available by phone today?”

“Yes, certainly.  I’m just going to get Lucy out of the office until a family member comes for her.  I need your first priority after your interview to be getting in touch with that aunt.”

“I’ll do what I can, Chief.  According to her secretary, she took a few vacation days with her partner while their house was being tented for termites.  Neither the aunt nor the partner have their cell phones on, and I have no probable cause to pull their financials to find out where they are staying.”  Andy shrugged his shoulders.  “They’re supposed to be back at work tomorrow, so hopefully sometime today they’ll re-enter reality.”

“Ok, Lieutenant.  Let me know if there are any changes.”  She effectively dismissed him and turned back to Raydor, who was still cuddling the child to her chest.

The Chief stepped close to Raydor and murmured to her in a tone Andy couldn’t overhear.  Raydor nodded and said something back, and then smiled a sweet smile at his Chief.  Brenda smiled back with her eyes - her lips were pressed together - and briefly grasped the Captain’s elbow, before turning towards the parking garage, rummaging in her bag for her car keys.

Andy had never seen a smile like that on Sharon Raydor’s face - not in two decades of professional association.  Raydor was still watching the Chief as she walked away, her face still soft, though her gaze on the twitch of the Chief’s hips was somewhat…proprietary.

Oh.  Andy tried very hard to school his face into placidity.  Office scuttlebutt had pegged Raydor as a lesbian in the early nineties, when she had been tied up in court trying to keep her kids after her ex had found out about her sexual orientation.  A dick move by the ex, to be sure.  Despite his dislike for the woman at that point in his career (at every point in his career, he was somewhat ashamed to admit), he couldn’t imagine her as anything other than a conscientious and devoted mother; Sharon Raydor was much too upright to be anything else.

But Raydor and the Chief?  It would certainly explain the Chief’s secretive texting and the staring off into space with a goofy grin and her impassioned defense of FID and Raydor’s job.  It would also explain why Raydor was letting her Lieutenant run point on this investigation and Sharon herself (Andy felt like this was the first time he’d ever seen Sharon the woman) was here, with a sleeping child resting on one hip, looking rather pleased about spending the day with Chief Johnson.

Andy was too intrigued with his sudden flash of insight to get on with his day, so he lurked and watched Raydor, who was staring out the doors, across the plaza.  When she started moving towards the doors, Andy took a few quick steps and opened the door for her.  Sharon quirked her lips up, nodded an acknowledgment, and strode off, her gaze already fixed on the silver unmarked pulling up to the curb in the distance.  He watched her progress, still lost in thought.  Were the neurotic Chief and the prickly Captain romantically involved?  Andy’s instincts were saying that they were.

Sharon unlocked the front door to her house and looked back to where Brenda Leigh was half in the back seat of her Crown Vic, extracting Lucy from a borrowed car seat.  The girl was awake, but DCFS’s pediatrician had recommended a long sleep as the best medicine for the trauma of last night and this morning.  So Brenda and Sharon had been instructed to get her to eat as big a meal as she could manage and if Lucy couldn’t sleep on her own (she had been awake for nearly 36 hours at this point), they had two tiny sleeping pills to help her along to dreamland.

Brenda deposited Lucy on the ground and bent to speak to her, pointing at Sharon on the porch.  She nodded her little brown head and tripped up the walkway.  Sharon smiled at the child and extended a hand to her.  Lucy stomped up the stairs and took Sharon’s hand.  She led the little girl into the house.

“So little Lucy, what would you like for lunch?”  Sharon hoped she had food that would appeal to a potentially picky six year old.  She was also cursing the fact that she’d left the tupperware that contained her and Brenda’s lunch in the office refrigerator.

“Ummm, what kind of fings do you have to eat, Miss Sharon?”  Lucy inquired in her piping voice that had utterly charmed everyone from detectives to doctors to Sharon herself.

  “Well, why don’t we go have a look, kiddo.”  She pointed through the living room to the kitchen.  “The kitchen is right in there.  I’m just going to take off my pointy shoes, ok?” 

Lucy headed into the kitchen and Sharon was toeing off her heels as Brenda came through the door, shutting it behind her.  The blonde gave her a weak smile and dropped her purse next to the door, slipping out of her own footwear.  Sharon placed her keys on the entryway table and wrapped the blonde up in the first real hug they’d been able to share during the whole interminable morning.  Brenda melted into her body and Sharon was sure that the only thing holding the blonde upright was her locked knees and Sharon herself.

Brenda made a choked noise, and Sharon rubbed her back soothingly.  “Shhhhhh, honey.  Let’s get her fed and asleep and then I’ll hold you for a few hours, ok?”

“Yes.  Please.”  They stepped apart and Brenda scrubbed her hands across her face.  In the kitchen, Lucy had the refrigerator open and was peering intently into it.

“Can I have some of those noodles, Miss Sharon?”  Lucy pointed at the linguini Sharon had fixed to go with some sautéed shrimp and vegetables Sunday night.  Sharon reached over the girl’s head for the container.

“Just pasta, Lucy?  Would you like something on it?”

“Um, the green bottle powdery cheese.  And I haf to haf a fruit or veggible at every meal.  Momma says.”  Brenda slumped herself into a kitchen chair, and Lucy, oblivious to the grief etched into the blonde’s face, climbed into her lap and tucked her head under Brenda’s chin.

“I have crunchy green beans, some cantaloupe, grapes and baby carrots.  Which would you like?”

“Can I pick two?”

“Sure you can.”

“Green beans and cannalopes please.”  Satisfied with her choices, Lucy snuggled tighter into Brenda’s chest, and the Brenda looped her arms around her little body.  Sharon snagged the fruit and vegetables and the slightly embarrassing green bottle of sprinkle cheese. 

Brenda’s eyes tracked Sharon’s efficient movements in the kitchen.  Pasta and green beans on a plate and stuck, covered into the microwave.  Cantaloupe in a bowl, cut into smaller pieces before the microwave even beeped. 

“Lots of cheese or a little cheese?”  Lucy was watching Sharon, too.  She weighed her options.

“Lots.”  Sharon nodded and sprinkled a generous helping of parmesan cheese onto the steaming noodles, then sliced them into smaller bites.  She cut up the green beans too, for good measure.  It had been a long time since Sharon had prepared food for a child this age.

She put the plate and bowl in front of Lucy, who shifted in Brenda’s lap.  “Blow on the noodles and beans; they’re still hot.”  Lucy poked a green bean with her fork and blew on it obediently before popping it into her mouth.  She beamed up at Sharon.

“Fanks, Miss Sharon.” 

“You’re very welcome, Miss Lucy.”  She smiled at the little girl and then turned her attention to her girlfriend, who was looking very small and sad cuddling Lucy in her lap.

“Are you hungry yet, Brenda?’  Brenda shook her head.

“I actually ate breakfast.  Lucy and I did.”

“We had French toast!” Lucy chirped happily.  Brenda blushed.

“That sounds delicious.  Do you think you can take a nap after you eat your lunch, little Lucy?”

“I fink so Miss Sharon.  I’m pretty sleepy.”

“Ok.  I’m going to get some comfortable things to rest in, then.”  She squeezed Brenda’s shoulder as she left the room.

Sharon tucked little Lucy, clad in a gigantic t-shirt into her own bed under a soft throw.  Her eyes had begun to droop before she could even finish her meal, and it had been a race to get her changed and in and out of the bathroom before she dropped off to sleep.  Brenda was in the bathroom now, changing into a pair of Sharon’s sweats, and Sharon was pulling on sweats of her own.  She unhooked her bra and slipped it off from under the tank she had pulled from her drawer.

Brenda stepped out of the bathroom with her clothes in her arms.  She took the clothes from the unresisting blonde and guided her to the bed.  “Why don’t I go throw these into the dryer with a sheet so they’ll feel fresh when you have to put them back on.”

“Lay down, honey.  I’ll be right back.”  Brenda and Sharon had decided to nap with Lucy - the doctor had told them not to let the girl wake up alone in an unfamiliar place.  Brenda crawled onto the bed and curled up on her side, watching the sleeping child.

When Sharon reentered the room, Brenda was facing the door.  She caught Sharon’s gaze and extended her arms, and Sharon took the invitation gladly, making sure both their phones were on the bedside table before removing her glasses and embracing Brenda Leigh, holding her close.  The blonde cried soundlessly into Sharon’s shoulder - Sharon could feel the tears moistening the skin of her neck and chest and dampening her tank-top.

The ringing of a cell phone brought Sharon out of her pleasant dream.  Brenda was still pressed against her, their legs twined together.  Sharon twisted an arm around to snatch up the phone before it could wake Brenda and Lucy.

“Raydor,” she whispered.

“Oh.  Captain Raydor.  I was looking for Chief Johnson.”  It was Andy Flynn.  She bit back a sigh.

“She’s asleep.  Can it wait?”  Brenda stirred in her arms.

“Shari baby, whosit?” She mumbled, tilting her chin up.  Miles away, at HQ, Andy Flynn bit down on his lip to hide a grin and spun around once in his desk chair.

“I’m sorry Captain, but the aunt and her partner are here and they want to see Lucy.  They’re pretty freaked out.”  Sharon let herself sigh audibly.

“Lucy is completely conked out and the doctor told us to let her sleep for as long as we could get her to.”  She worried the insides of her cheeks with her molars.  “Could you bring them to my house, Lieutenant Flynn.  It isn’t protocol, and if you aren’t comfortable, we’ll wake her.  But I’d rather…”  Flynn cut her off.

“No, Captain, it’s fine.  The girl’s been through enough.  I’ll bring them myself.”

“Yes.  I’d prefer that.”  Andy could hear a little trepidation in the Captain’s voice.

“Captain, you don’t have to worry about me, not about protocol or anything else, understand?” He tried to reassure her.

“Understood, Lieutenant  Thank you.”

“We’ll be along in a thirty minutes or so.”  Sharon hung up and tossed the phone to the bed.

“Brenda Leigh, honey.”  The blonde groaned and fumbled her lips along Sharon’s neck in sweet, sleepy, open mouthed kisses.

“We have to get up and get dressed, Brenda Leigh.”  She kissed Brenda’s forehead and nuzzled along her temple.  “Come on, honey,” she cooed.  “Lucy’s aunt is coming and we don’t want Flynn to see us cuddling.”  Brenda groaned again.

“Flynn’s comin’?  And the aunt?”  Brenda still sounded half asleep.

“Yea, honey.  We have to put our clothes back on.”

“Must we?”  The blonde was awake now, and her lips punctuated her words with kisses.  “I really like you in this tank top.”  Sharon chuckled and then Brenda said in a small voice: “Can I stay with you again tonight?  After we’re through with this?”  Sharon gathered Brenda to her; held her as close as she could.

“Of course you can.  You can stay whenever you want, Brenda Leigh.”  Brenda pulled back a little to look into Sharon’s eyes.

“I love you, Sharon Raydor,” she whispered and then kissed the brunette on the corner of her mouth.  Sharon heard herself make an enraptured noise, a little mew of pleasure and surprise, before kissing the blonde soundly.

“I love you too, Brenda Leigh.”

Sharon had just finished brewing a pitcher of iced tea when there was a knock on the front door.  She hoped her bare feet and jeans didn’t offend Flynn’s sensibilities.  She pulled the door open.

“Lieutenant Flynn, come on in.”  Flynn stepped into the entryway, flanked by two petite women with wild eyes and tear streaked cheeks.

“Captain Raydor, this is Maureen and Kristina Winn, Lucy’s aunts.”  Sharon heard Brenda’s feet on the stairs behind her.  “And here’s Chief Johnson.”  Brenda was back in her skirt and twinset, though her feet were also bare.  Brenda came over to shake both woman’s hands. 

“Chief Johnson, Lieutenant Flynn told us what happened this morning.”  Kristina Winn’s eyes were red and swollen, but her voice was steady.  “Thank you for protecting Lucy.”

Brenda smiled sadly at Lucy’s aunt.  “She’s a brave little girl, Ms. Winn.”

“Could we see her?  Just peek would be…”  Kristina gulped and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye.  Maureen gripped her shoulder.  “It would really put our minds at ease.”

“Sure you can.  She’s just upstairs.”  Brenda led the two women back up the stairs and down the hallway and Sharon was left standing in the entryway with Lieutenant Flynn.

“Have you had lunch, Lieutenant?” Sharon inquired evenly.  If Flynn had figured out she was dating his Chief and didn’t have a problem with it, she could, at the very least, show the man some hospitality.  “I was going to make sandwiches for myself and Brenda.” 

She started towards the kitchen and Andy followed.  Andy hesitated before answering - most people didn’t keep options for a decent vegetarian sandwich in their houses if they weren’t vegetarians themselves.  Sharon spoke again before he could figure out what to say.

“I have a couple types of hummus.  And a lot of produce.  Cukes.  Squash.  Tomato.”  She’d actually remembered that he was a vegetarian.

“Okay.  That sounds good, actually.” 

She turned to open the refrigerator and smirked at him - a friendly sort of smirk.

“Garlic, plain or roasted red pepper?”

“Garlic, and cucumber, please.”  She rooted around and fished out a tub of hummus and a whole cucumber and handed them to him.  “Would you happen to have a sweet pepper in there too?” 

“I might.”  She bent to open the bottom crisper drawer and Andy averted his eyes from her ass in those jeans.  Jesus in short pants if Sharon Raydor wasn’t become more appealing by the moment.  He found himself appreciating her with different eyes in this new environment and now that he knew she and the Chief were…whatever they were. 

Sharon’s refrigerator was massive - the whole kitchen was modern and efficiently appointed, and looked frequently used and well maintained.  A half open pocket door next to the fridge exposed a pantry or wine closet of some sort - one of the walls was covered in lightly stained wooden bottle racks. 

Sharon put the pepper on the counter and turned back to gather meat and cheese and lettuce and mayo into her arms before turning and letting the refrigerator door swing shut.

“Cutting board is in the dish drain, knife block to the left of the sink.”  Sharon opened the bread box on the counter.  “Wrap or wheat?”

“Wheat, please.”  Andy turned on the sink and washed his hands and the vegetables.  He worked quickly; Sharon used the section of counter on the other side of the sink.  She handed him two slices of soft bread, a plate and a spoon when the vegetables had been cut and Andy assembled a thick sandwich of hummus, pepper and cucumber.  He placed the cutting board, knife and spoon in the sink.

“This looks really good.  Thanks, Captain.” 

“I have iced tea, water, lemonade…some soda and chips in the pantry.” She pointed to the pocket door.  “Glasses are above your head.”  Andy poured himself a glass of tea and leaned against the counter to enjoy his sandwich and watch the Captain finish assembling two roast beef sandwiches.  He wondered how the Chief was faring upstairs with the two distraught family members.  Apparently the Captain was wondering that too.

“I’m going to go check on the Chief,” she said softly, and left the kitchen.  Andy took advantage of her absence to snoop a little.  He slid back the pocket door to take in the pantry, which did double duty as dry goods storage and a well stocked wine cellar.  He noticed a package of snack sized Cheeto’s bags and snagged one.  Those things were the Chief in spades.  He pulled the door back into place and put the bag of Cheeto’s on the counter next to the sandwiches.

When Andy noticed the back yard, he considered finishing his sandwich and tea out there, but didn’t want to push anything - to abuse this strange trust that the Captain had seemed to place in him.  So he stood in front of the glass doors and ate his sandwich and looked at the glint of the sun and the reflection of the clouds in the Captain’s pool.

Andy was sipping at his tea at the table when he heard feet on the stairs.  He had loaded his plate into the dishwasher after he’d finished eating.  The Captain entered the kitchen, followed by the Winns and the Chief.  Andy stood up and moved to lean against the counter and the Chief and the Winn’s sat down at the table.

“So Tony and Kathy had a living will that gives you and Maureen custody of Lucy?”  The Chief asked, continuing whatever conversation they had been having upstairs.

“Yes.” Kristina said, and Maureen clasped hands with her on top of the table.  Sharon noticed Brenda shift her eyes to the knot of fingers and nibble on her bottom lip.  “It was a family decision.  Kathy’s mom runs a huge farm by herself, out in Idaho, and doesn’t think she can parent full-time and keep on top of the farm like it needs.  And Tony and my parents are deceased.”

“Ok.”  The Chief’s eyes shot to the Captain.  “I think that under the circumstances, we can get a copy of that will to DCFS so you can take Lucy home right now.”

“I’ll call our family attorney.”  Kristina pulled out a cell phone and started scrolling through her contacts.

“Lieutenant Flynn, could you find the fax number for DCFS for Ms. Winn, please?”  Andy nodded and took his cell out of the inside pocket of his coat and dashed off a text to Tao.  He got a reply almost immediately and placed the phone in front of the Chief.  She gave him a small distracted smile.  Andy wondered where her mind was at that moment.

It took about 30 tense, quiet minutes for the Winn’s attorney to fax the will to DCFS and for DCFS to call the Chief and the Winns and give the OK for the Winn’s to take Lucy home.  It was Brenda who peeled the sleeping little one from Sharon’s bed and deposited her in the arms of her aunt.  Sharon gave them the sleeping pills and recommendations from the doctor, and the three of them piled into the back of Andy’s unmarked for the ride back to their car at HQ.  Brenda would interview Lucy at their house sometime in the next few days; she felt strongly about not bringing Lucy back to the murder room.

As the car pulled away, Sharon snugged an arm around Brenda’s waist.  “Why don’t you go put those sweats back on, and then we can eat those sandwiches on the back porch.”

“Will you put that tank top back on?”  Brenda asked, dropping her head onto Sharon’s shoulder.

Sharon dropped a kiss on the blonde head.  “Of course I will.  You sure you want to take the rest of the afternoon?”   Brenda tilted her chin up to look into Sharon’s eyes.

“Yea.  I need to get a little distance - especially after having Lucy around all morning.  Though I’m not sure I could have let DCFS take her.”

“You did the right thing, Brenda Leigh.  She had bonded with you and felt safe with you.  It was right to keep her until someone else she trusted could take her home.” 

“You really think so?”

“I do really think so.”  She patted the blonde on the butt.  “Now let’s go get changed.”

Sharon really liked seeing Brenda Leigh in her clothes.  She’d realized that when the blonde had slept over last week and she had the same possessive little thrill running down her spine now.  Brenda was wearing a t-shirt Jackson had brought her from Berkeley years ago, when he was still an undergraduate, and an old pair of LAPD sweatpants from a law enforcement marathon Sharon had completed before her injury.

Brenda picked up the last of piece melon with her fingers and nibbled on it, her eyes closed, face turned towards the late fall sunshine.  Her beauty made Sharon’s breath catch in her chest; features relaxed, pale skin aglow, the light limned each strand of hair, turning it to molten honey.  Sharon let her eyes caress each detail of Brenda’s face, marveling that this lovely creature was here, with her.  Brenda cracked an eye open and smirked

Sharon watched Brenda pop the melon in her mouth and suck the stickiness off her fingers.  She chewed and swallowed and pushed up and out of her chair, propelling herself directly into Sharon’s lap.  She folded her legs awkwardly to sit on Sharon’s knees, facing her. 

Sharon smoothed a palm down Brenda’s torso, intrigued by her freely swinging breasts under the t-shirt.  Face soft and open, eyes lidded, Brenda took ahold of Sharon’s wrist and slid her hand down, down under the waistband of the sweatpants. 

“Will you make love to me, Sharon?”  Brenda asked, her voice gentle.

Oh, yes, Sharon was ready for this.  She scraped her fingernails lightly through the curls over Brenda’s mound.  Brenda was wearing no panties under Sharon’s sweats.  Sharon moved her fingers that last little distance and cupped Brenda’s sex.  Brenda groaned and pulled Sharon’s head into her chest.

“You wanna go inside, Shari, baby?” Brenda purred into Sharon’s hair.  Sharon nodded frantically, and dipped two fingers into the startling wetness between Brenda Leigh’s legs.  The satiny warmth was irresistible, so she sheathed her fingers in Brenda all the way to the first knuckle, bearing down gently against the strength of her internal muscles.  Brenda moaned and her hips bucked.  Then she chuckled.

“That wasn’t quite what I meant, though it feels really, really nice.”  She rose up on her knees a little and began fucking herself on Sharon’s fingers.  “Are you sure you don’t want to take me in the house and strip me and lay me out on your bed?”

“Later,” Sharon growled.  She had a hand up Brenda’s t-shirt and was rolling a nipple, mouthing the other through the thin fabric of the shirt.  “Though I do want you naked.”  Brenda whipped off the shirt like it was on fire.  Sharon latched back onto the blonde’s nipples. 

“I don’t think I can get the pants off without getting up.”  Sharon made a frustrated noise and lifted Brenda off her lap with an arm around her torso.  When she was standing, Brenda yanked the pants down herself, and Sharon unbuttoned her jeans and lifted her hips to push them off.  Brenda was back in her lap before Sharon could get her tank off.

“Back inside,” she husked urgently.  “Please, Shari, go back inside.”  Sharon obeyed - how could she not? 

Brenda rode Sharon’s long fingers slowly, using the muscles of her thighs to set a deliberate pace.  She kept her eyes locked on Sharon’s, making soft sounds of pleasure and occasionally bending her head to kiss Sharon’s upturned lips.

“After taking that nap wrapped up in your arms, I wanted you so bad, baby.  I had such a nice dream of your pretty hands touching me, making me feel so wonderful.  And then I woke up surrounded by you, and I felt safe and happy, and so, so turned on.”  The sweet need of Brenda’s words made Sharon’s sex throb.  Her hips canted upwards instinctively, seeking some contact.  Brenda Leigh sought out her lips and wormed a hand between their bodies, running her fingers through the damp, wiry hair at Sharon’s apex before her thumb found the sweet spot just to the left of Sharon’s clit with an unerring accuracy.  Sharon groaned at the contact, and then Brenda’s fingers were playing along her slit and Sharon couldn’t help herself; her hips bucked up and nearly dislodged Brenda from her perch.

“Mmmmmmm,” Brenda moaned, her eyes intent on Sharon’s face, drinking in her pleasure.  She kept up the teasing contact, and soon they were both breathing hard, Brenda on top of Sharon and panting through her nose.

She buried her nose in Sharon’s hair and inhaled.  “You smell so damn good.  It must be pheromones or something, cuz just the tiniest little whiff makes me crazy, wantin’ you.”  Her pace became more frantic and Sharon began working her thumb over the blonde’s swollen clit.  “God, Shari.  I’m gonna come.” 

And before she could take another breath, she did. Brenda’s body didn’t stiffen and strain against her orgasm like Sharon was expecting - it was more like whatever tension she had been holding on to from the day melted from her in a rush of pleasure, her inner walls pulsing around Sharon’s fingers.  Brenda held Sharon to her tightly, sighing her pleasure.

“Oh,” she breathed, the rush of air tickling the hair at the crown of Sharon’s head.  “That was just perfect.”  Her grip around Sharon’s head eased and she leaned down to Sharon’s mouth and kissed her deeply.  Sharon removed her fingers from the warmth and wetness of Brenda Leigh, who moaned and twitched her hips a little.

“Oh,” Brenda breathed again, eyelids fluttering.  “Another little one.”  She kissed Sharon once more, then pulled back and gave the brunette a considering look.  “I think I want to taste you now.” She said seriously.  “But first I want to take that tank top off.”  Sharon couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Bossy,” she husked.

Brenda rested her forehead on Sharon’s, smiling a little saucily.  “I’ve never made love outside before, Shari.”  She arched her back a little, stretching and reveling in the light and open air.  “The sun feels nice.”  She pushed up off Sharon’s lap and propped her bare ass on the edge of table, bare feet on the arms of Sharon’s chair.  “Now, up.  I want to see you.”  Sharon stood and stepped in between Brenda’s legs.  Brenda grasped the bottom of the tank, and Sharon raised her arms and let her remove it.

“Mmmmmm, so beautiful,” Brenda purred.  Her fingers splayed across Sharon’s belly, tracing the scar at her hip, coming to rest at the curve of her hips.  She bent forward to circle a nipple with her tongue.

“Let’s go in the house, baby.” Brenda husked, nuzzling in the valley between Sharon’s breasts.  “I want to take my time with you.”

So Sharon found herself spread eagle on her own bed, with Brenda Leigh hovering over her, mapping every inch of her skin with lips and fingers and nose until Sharon was shivering with the diffuse pleasure of her attention and every press of Brenda’s lips against her made her twitch with want and anticipation.  No part of Sharon escaped Brenda’s intense scrutiny; forearm to bicep over her shoulder, to her underarm, down her ribcage, over her hipbone, a long pause on Sharon’s well muscled thighs and calves that had Sharon squirming, to the heel of her foot, along the arch and down to her toes.

“Please, Brenda Leigh, please, please,” she whined.  Brenda dipped her nose in Sharon’s navel and then licked it delicately.

“Please what, Sharon?” Brenda husked, a chuckle lacing her tone.

“Please, I need you, please, please, please…” she breathed with each exhale. Sharon was too far gone to even be aware she was begging.  Brenda trailed her lips over Sharon’s belly and shouldered Sharon’s thighs farther apart.  And she poised, lips parted slightly, breath ruffling the hair between Sharon’s legs.

“I’ve been thinkin’ about doing this for you for so long,” Brenda whispered.

“Please, Brenda Leigh,” Sharon pleaded, clutching at the sheets, trying to keep from jerking her hips into Brenda’s mouth.  “Please.”  Brenda exhaled and with the tip of her tongue, parted Sharon’s folds, then dragged her tongue up over Sharon’s clit.  Sharon let out a strangled cry and Brenda moaned and latched onto the stiffened bundle of nerves, sucking it into her mouth.

“Ohhhh, yessssss.”  Sharon babbled  “Suck on it, suck me, Brenda Leigh honey.”  Brenda obliged, applying rhythmic suction to Sharon’s clit and using the tips of her fingers to stimulate the nerve endings at the threshold of Sharon’s vagina.  Sharon tangled her hands in Brenda’s loose hair and came; Brenda hung on with an arm across Sharon’s hips. 

Sharon’s orgasm passed, but Brenda wasn’t finished; she reveled in Sharon’s arousal, cleaning every bit of it from Sharon’s sex, relishing the taste of her lover and the shivers and moans that her continued attentions were eliciting from Sharon. 

When she was through, Brenda crawled back up Sharon’s body and curled up, head on her hand, leg thrown over Sharon’s hips, next to the prone brunette.

“That was wonderful, Sharon.  Tasting you was wonderful,” she purred.  Sharon laughed and turned her head to kiss Brenda.

“It was pretty good for me too, honey.” 

“Why do men always complain about goin’ down on us?  You taste even better than I’d imagined.” Brenda said dreamily.  Sharon kissed her again, snaking an arm around Brenda’s shoulders and pulling the blonde down on top of her.  They both sighed contentedly.