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Endear You To Me

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Sharon took a deep breath before stepping into the FID bullpen on Monday morning.  Her thighs were burning like  she had just run a marathon and she felt a little wobbly in the legs in general.  She willed some strength into her shaky limbs, straightened her back, smoothed down her ochre dress, making sure the buckle on the silver metallic leather belt that matched her silver metallic leather pumps was just so, and clipped into her division, hoping that she didn’t look like she had been fucking her girlfriend against the wall in her shower barely 40 minutes ago, even if she could feel the delicious soreness and languor of their weekend activities in every muscle of her body.

Sharon nodded politely to Sergeant Markham and Lieutenant Elliot, here early as always, and slipped into her office.  She was going to have to start pushing Markham to take the detective’s exam - she wanted the woman to have opportunities for advancement, and she was definitely sharp enough and dedicated enough to do well on the difficult exam.  Plopping into her chair with a sigh of relief, Sharon allowed an enormous grin to overtake her normally sober expression.

The past few weeks with Brenda Leigh had been phenomenal - her Chief was surprisingly sweet, kept Sharon laughing and interested (though that wasn’t at all a surprise), and was an extraordinarily generous lover.  Hence the trembling muscles and lingering post-coital haze.  Sharon didn’t banish her smile, but she focused on the pile of paper work she needed to review in order to compile the end of the year statistics for her division, intent on getting as much as possible done before she was due to meet Brenda in Human Resources before lunch.

Brenda was already behind her desk when the first of her detectives barreled into the murder room.  Tao sketched her a wave through the glass and hightailed it into the media room after dropping his satchel at his desk.  He and Buzz were working on a grant proposal to get Major Crimes some sort of server-thingy that would allow off site access to their databases and evidence.  Brenda very much liked this idea in theory, especially after the weekend she’d just had.  It remained to be seen if additional technology would be a help or a hinderance to their standard operating procedure.

Brenda turned her attention back to the crime scene photos on her monitor.  Major Crimes had been rolled out to a crime scene in Hancock Park Saturday night.  A woman was dead and her husband and fourteen year old daughter were in critical condition at Ronald Reagan.  No forced entry was evident, and there was nothing obviously missing from the house.  In fact, from the photos, it didn’t look like the assailant had set foot anywhere other than the entry way and den.  Brenda picked up the ballistics report, expecting background and financials as soon as Gabriel and Sanchez turned up.  She expected the rest of her day, and her squad’s day, would be spent conducting interviews with friends, family and associates of the Messick family.  Except for her visit to HR with Sharon.  She fidgeted uncomfortably, and forced it from her mind.

She was still reading the ballistics report (a shotgun? really?), when Flynn tapped on the door.  She waved him in and he sauntered over to slouch in a chair.  Brenda finished the page she was on and turned her attention to her Lieutenant.  “Any trouble at the crime scene?” 

Brenda was feeling a little guilty that she’d been having a nice dinner and making love while her squad was working a murder, but she was determined to not end up in any more untenable positions because she mired herself in her job.  A little distance would keep her sane and give her extremely competent Lieutenants opportunities to hone their leadership skills.  It’s not like she wasn’t a phone call away if things went pear shaped.

“No m’am.  No problems at all.”  He answered without hesitation.  Good, that meant he wasn’t lying.

“And where are my three other little ducklings this mornin’?”  She figured he had them out on some errand or other.

“I passed David in the hall on my way in - he’s having a strongly worded discussion with someone at the Messick’s bank.”  Andy smirked and Brenda rolled her eyes.  “Julio and Provenza stopped by the hospital to check up on the victims - James and Caroline.  I posted protective details on them until we know what’s going on - this looks more like a hit than a robbery.”

“What about my post-mortem?”

“You’re due in the morgue at 2.”

“Nice work, Lieutenant,” Brenda said sincerely, and Andy puffed up under the praise.  Brenda was surprised to find her guilt at taking a weekend for herself and Sharon vanished, disappeared like it had never been. 

Andy’s phone beeped; he whipped it off his belt and peered at his new text message.

“Caroline is awake and ready to talk to us.”

“Alright.  We’ll head over there as soon as Gabriel has the basics on their finances for us.”  She cocked her head at him.  “You’re riding with me today.  I absolutely have to be back here for an 11:45 appointment, and your chief responsibility this morning is wrangling the Chief.”  He shot her a strange look.

“Sharon and I have a meeting with HR.”  He nodded sagely, but said nothing, his dark eyes mirthful.  Brenda scowled at him.

“I can see you chuckling, Andy Flynn.  Out with it,” she demanded.

“Oh,” he said in a manner that was supposed to read as nonchalance.  “I was just wondering how your weekend went.  You certainly look very…” he paused for effect and scrutinized Brenda, “satisfied.”  Brenda choked back a sound that was an unholy blend of a laugh and a splutter of indignation.

“Why, Lieutenant, I’m surprised you recognize that particular expression on a woman,” Brenda sniffed primly.  Andy guffawed, his jaw dropping.

“You wound me, Chief.”    

Sharon was leaning against the wall outside the door to Human Resources when Brenda Leigh flounced off the elevator, teal and camel and cream skirt swishing vigorously around her knees.  She looked a little disgruntled, beyond her usual case related anxiety, even though she spared a smile for Sharon.  She stopped the blonde before she could open the door, and pulled her into a huddle that was probably closer than advised for HQ.

“What’s the matter?” Sharon asked simply.  Brenda made brief eye contact before dropping her gaze to the vicinity of Sharon’s silver metallic Manolos and pursing her lips.  “Can I help in any way?”

“I want to tell you, but I don’t know that I can handle any jealousy right now.”  Brenda said in a quiet voice.  Well, that was clue enough for Sharon, and she stepped down hard on her feelings of anger towards their boss.

“Pope?” Sharon was proud that her voice stayed even.

“Yea,” Brenda admitted.  “He just stopped me in the hall and asked me to dinner.”  Her face twisted into something like regret, shot through with a touch of anger, and she folded into herself, looking very small and brittle all of a sudden.  Sharon took a chance and smoothed a hand down the arm of Brenda’s soft teal blazer.

“I know you’ve been clear with him, honey.  I’m sorry he keeps putting you in this situation.”

“Thank you for trusting me, Shari.”  Brenda’s voice was fragile, like she could shatter with the slightest wrong move.

“I’d be hugging you right now, if I could, Brenda Leigh.” Sharon husked, hoping that the blonde could hear the emotion and sincerity behind her statement.

“You’re sweet, and a hug would be very welcome.”  They had to make do with a loaded glance and Sharon’s hand on Brenda’s arm.

“Let’s go take care of this, and we can go somewhere quiet for lunch, if you’re available.” Sharon suggested hopefully, after a moment’s silence.

“I’d like that.”

Candace Morrell had been working in the LAPD’s Human Resources Department for more than two decades, and she had seen it all, probably more than once, though the two women who slunk into her office at 11:45 on the dot might have been a little higher ranking than her usual customers.  She had dealt with Sharon Raydor on a regular basis since the woman had taken over FID a decade ago.  Despite her reserved nature, the brunette Captain was in Candace’s opinion, a lovely woman, and by all accounts, an excellent boss.  Candace had never had contact with Deputy Chief Johnson, though she had certainly heard of the blonde and her exploits.  She had been working with the same group of people for nearly eight years, and rumor was that Mike Tao had turned down a promotion to Captain and charge of his own SID squad in order to remain with her in Major Crimes, so she couldn’t be all flash and craziness.  She certainly didn’t look overbearing at this moment; she looked nervous as hell.

“Captain Raydor, Chief Johnson, come in and have a seat.”  As they sat, Candace observed.  She was fairly certain she knew why they were here, now.  The way the Chief angled her body towards the Captain once she was settled in the chair said it all.  Candace had seen it a million times, but she decided a little circumspection was in order - the fights these two had had back in the early days of their association were still the stuff of legend.

“Captain Raydor’s email was a little vague, so I’m wondering what can I do for you today?”  Raydor actually flushed a little before speaking; Candace had to bite back a chuckle and the Deputy Chief rolled her eyes, not attempting to hide it.

“We’re here to disclose a romantic relationship and take care of whatever paperwork we need to fill out.”  Candace nodded and plucked two forms from her filing system, deftly attaching them to two clipboards and handing them over the desk.

“Now, as you can see, the paperwork isn’t particularly complicated.” And it really wasn’t.  A notice of confidentiality until such time as they waived it, a disclaimer that in some cases Internal Affairs would have access without their waiver, and a place to sign and date. 

“What can be complicated is making sure that the integrity of your departments isn’t affected, especially considering FID tends to overlap so often with just about everyone.”  Candace raised an eyebrow at the Captain, who had just finished signing her name with a flourish.  She was sure Captain Raydor had already handled this part of her job for her.

“Lieutenant Elliot will handle any use of force investigations involving Major Crimes, and Lieutenant Flynn is aware of the situation,” Raydor stated matter-of-factly.

“And what about parallel or overlapping investigations?” Candace wanted to know, and this time it was Chief Johnson who answered.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t work on those rare cases in a professional manner - I mean, I could never be accused of givin’ my significant other a free pass for shoddy work, and I think Sharon here would have my head checked herself if I did.”  Sharon shrugged an oblique agreement, and Candace nodded definitively.

“Right then.” Candace collected the clipboards and pulled the top sheet from the forms.  The secondary yellow copies went to the Captain and the Chief.  “Anything else?”  Raydor rose to leave, but Chief Johnson remained seated.

“Actually,” the blonde said in a small voice, “could you update my emergency contact list, since I’m here?” 

“Not a problem.”  Candace opened the Chief’s file in the personnel database and scrolled down to emergency contacts; a Fritz Howard was listed on top, followed by Clay and Willie Rae Johnson.  “Now what am I changing?”

“Replace Fritz with Sharon, please.  Do I need to give you her phone number?”  Candace shook her head and chanced a look at the Captain, standing, staring down at the Chief with a soft and utterly entranced smile on her face.  It was the work of a few seconds to change the information in the computer, and the two women thanked Candace with quite politeness and left.  Candace found herself wondering what sort of reaction Chief Johnson’s little gesture would elicit from Captain Raydor in private.

“That was less painful than I was expecting,” Brenda noted as they clicked their way back to the elevator.

“What were you expecting that was so awful?”  Sharon was curious what the other woman’s active imagination had conjured up.

“I dunno, like at the doctor’s when they’re harpin’ on you for not sleepin’ enough or not eatin’ right.”  She scowled at the floor.  “I was braced for judgment, I guess.”  A sliver of worry flashed through Sharon at Brenda’s words, but she buried it and moved on.

“How long do you have for lunch?”

“Mmmm, we should take our whole hour, ‘cuz tonight I’ve absolutely got to back to my place to do laundry, Shari.”

“I thought you had a never ending supply of flower print skirts and matching twin-sets, Brenda Leigh.”  Brenda laughed and reached out to press the ‘down’ button to call the elevator.

“That I do, but underwear - not so much.”  Sharon scoffed and smirked at her lover, and then seeing as how they were alone in the elevator bay and all four of the elevators were floors away, she dropped a kiss on Brenda’s blonde temple.

Brenda was sitting on her couch, nursing a glass of wine, in deep mourning for a number of reasons when a knock sounded on her front door.  She scowled.  Anyone calling at 11 pm would have to deal with her surly attitude, the state of her apartment, and the truly ratty sweat pants and t-shirt she was wearing.  She whipped the door open, prepared to thoroughly upbraid the late night intruder on her wine-drunk.

An abashed Sharon Raydor stood there, dressed in sweats only slightly neater than Brenda’s own, and holding a small bag and a pant suit and blouse on some hangers.

“I couldn’t sleep,” she said, sheepish.  Brenda stepped aside and Sharon stepped into her body and kissed her very softly on the corner of the lips, slightly embarrassed that after only a few nights her need for the blonde in her bed at night was such that she couldn’t sleep without her.  Once the door was closed behind them, she blurted:

“Is this ok?”  Her grip was white knuckled on the handle of her chocolate leather Coach weekender.  This time it was Brenda who stepped into Sharon, and pried the bag from her fingers.

“More than ok,” she said, tucking her head into Sharon’s neck and rubbing her nose along the frayed edge of Sharon’s t-shirt.  “I wasn’t even gonna try to sleep.”  Sharon heard the bag drop to the floor and Brenda’s arms snaked around her waist and under the nearly threadbare cotton to rest on the bare skin of her back.

“I guess we’re feelin’ the same way, so I’m just gonna say it: Sharon Raydor, I would prefer to sleep in the same bed as you as many nights as we can manage.”

Sharon didn’t hesitate when she replied, “me too.”  She sniffled a little.  “Can I put these hangers down so I can hold you better?”  She had Brenda in an awkward, one armed hug, the other arm holding her clothing away from their bodies.  Brenda released her and stepped away, taking the hangers from her hands and scooping the bag back up from the floor.  She turned and headed further into the apartment; Sharon took in the scene around her.  There were skirts and sweaters spread on every available flat service barring the couch and coffee table.  Lacy bras and panties were hanging from the corners of chairs and off doorknobs.  On the coffee table next to a half empty bottle of white and goblet, was Brenda’s purse, turned inside out, liner partially shredded.  Sharon sat down on the couch and took a sip from Brenda’s glass, and promptly spit it back in.

“Ugh, what are you drinking?  And what happened to your purse?”  Brenda padded back into the room.

“I’m drinking bad white wine because I’m in mourning for my purse,” she groused and threw herself on the couch and onto Sharon.

“I would offer my apologies, honey, but outright falsehoods aren’t my style.  And there is never any excuse for bad wine, Brenda Leigh.”

“That purse has carried me through nearly 8 years, Sharon.  It deserves a little respect, and a decent send off.”  Brenda’s head was in Sharon’s lap; she pressed a cheek against Sharon’s belly and closed her eyes, the slight strain around her eyes disappearing.  Sharon leaned over to pick up the sad looking heap of leather and acetate lining, squishing Brenda a little, but the blonde merely giggled.  She examined the bag - there was a sizable hole in the leather bottom, and the lining was not only detached from the leather in a few places, but had several clean edged slits in the bottom.  Sharon poked a finger through one.

“Were you carrying a knife in here?”  Sharon asked, incredulous.

“The hinge on my little tactical blade was loose, and the lining was the only thing protecting my stuff from the hole in the bottom.  I fixed my knife, but there’s no fixing my poor purse.”  She pouted fiercely up at Sharon.

“Well, why don’t you postpone your wake at least until you have some better booze, and in the meantime, I’ll take custody of the deceased and see if my shoe and leather repair guy can’t breath some life back into the old bag.”  Sharon tried not to laugh at her own pun.

“Oh, haha.”  Brenda sat up and kissed her, tossing the black mess onto the floor and throwing a leg over Sharon to straddle her lap.  “If you can rescue my purse, I’ll be forever in your debt,” she purred.  And then yawned, her jaw cracking and eyes tearing up.

“I think I just saw your tonsils,” Sharon said after her own sympathetic yawn. “Let’s go to bed.”  Brenda stood and offered a hand to pull Sharon off the couch.  She followed Brenda back to the bedroom, but paused before crossing the threshold.  Brenda turned a quizzical gaze on the brunette.

“I don’t know that look, Shari.  What’s wrong?”  Sharon’s eyes flicked to the bed and then back to Brenda. 

“Is that your marital bed, Brenda Leigh?”  Sharon could barely form the words to ask, and it wasn’t something she had considered before packing a bag and driving over here, but she had to know.

“Oh my god, no.  Fritz took that medieval torture device with him and I bought myself a nice mattress with a little give, along with new pillows and new linens.”  She pulled Sharon into the room and broke away to pull down the bedding.  Then she pulled her t-shirt over her head and pushed down her pants, kicking them over into the corner.  Bare, she crawled onto the bed and over to the far side.  Sharon stripped and climbed into bed, and into Brenda’s arms.

“Love you,” Brenda murmured, her face buried in Sharon’s hair.  “Glad you came over.”

“Love you too, Brenda Leigh,” Sharon husked, and they both succumbed to sleep.