A/N: I've never posted one of my stories before. I've only ever dabbled and never thought anything was worth posting. I don't even know if anyone even read Closer fanfic anymore, but if you read this I would appreciate a review or message letting me know what you think. I don't own anything, just playing with the characters.
Brenda Leigh Johnson was a woman of many talents and strengths. In the past three years, she had rediscovered herself and remembered who she was before she let everything get so cloudy and her view of the world to become so distorted. After her mama died, it seemed as though her whole world had crashed, but today looking out at the city skyline of Atlanta from her apartment balcony, almost everything felt right.
She was sitting on a lounge chair watching the sunset with a glass of merlot in her hand. Tomorrow was her birthday. Maybe growing another year older was what prompted this time of reflection or maybe it was just time to clear her head and be honest with herself. Every once in the while she felt the need to do that. She needed to keep herself grounded and in check.
Brenda loved to watch the sunset now. Most of the time she was home to do it, which was in stark contrast to her time at the LAPD when the only sunset she saw was during a crime scene and usually over a dead body. She didn't miss crime scenes anymore and she especially didn't miss getting dragged out of bed at all hours of the night or not knowing when she would get to go home and change clothes. No, now Brenda Leigh was one of those people that followed a schedule...most of the time.
Two years ago, almost a year after her mother's death, it seemed as though her father was starting to bounce back and live again. Brenda had moved out of her parent's house and into this apartment and started a consulting firm. She now had some large corporate clients that she helped assess risk, helped some out of a few legal issues, and in general made sure they weren't pressing too close to a legal line. Yes that's what lawyers were for, but people seemed to like that she wasn't a lawyer and that she had such an extensive background with the legal system. Some even liked her out of the box approach.
Her most important clients though were the one's referred to her by former associates and co-workers. They were the ones that she sought out the truth for. The ones that the legal system had forgotten about. She wouldn't say that she closed cold cases per se, but she would look them over and maybe put in a little more effort than the overworked detective that had previously handled the case might have. Rarely did she let the work consume her, but every now and again one would stick with her and she would find herself back in the habit of staying up all night, only eating sweets, and searching for that one small thing someone else might have missed. When she interviewed people now it wasn't because she needed to close the case for herself it was because she needed to close it for the people who had given up hope until she came along. Brenda found that was more rewarding than anything. She was still getting justice, but now it wasn't driven by her need to prove herself to anyone. She just wanted to. She let the corporate mumbo jumbo pay the bills and help her build her brand. But her passion was for the little people. The people like her. The people that just needed a little bit more closure to move on.
Closure. She thought about that for a bit. She and Fritz had come to a close two and a half years ago. She had quit the DA's office 6 months after taking the position and she had come home to Atlanta. She and Fritz had tried for another few months to make it work. He had even offered to transfer to be closer to her and her father, but they both knew that's not what he had really wanted to do and neither had she. Something about their relationship had changed once she left the LAPD. It was as if they no longer worked. They fought continuously, he was always talking about kids, and then there had been the other thing neither one of them ever openly acknowledged but was a source of contention and fueled many of their arguments. They would be arguing about something simple, but in reality they were arguing about something completely different even if they didn't use her name. Finally, Brenda had used her daddy as an excuse and left Los Angeles, effectively leaving Fritz behind as well.
It was true, her daddy had needed her help and together they had gotten better. Clay Johnson was a man of few words, but one night he told her that there would be no judgement from him if she divorced Fritz. That was the night Brenda sat in front of the mirror studying her own face wondering what had given her away. In the end, it hadn't mattered because she knew her daddy was right. She wasn't happy and they both knew she was never going to be happy with Fritz again. The next day she filed for divorce.
Brenda had heard from Lieutenant Tao two months ago that Fritz was engaged and expecting a baby boy. She had been truly happy for him. She hadn't reached out to him, but she was honestly happy that he was getting what he wanted out of life and that neither one of them had settled and stayed in an unhappy marriage.
She heard from her old team now and again. Every so often one of them would call her or send her an email, usually it was something related to a case, but Tao had kept in touch with her because he wanted to know how she was and to fill her in on life. She thought secretly he wished she never left, but eventually they had quit talking about that and moved on to topics that actual friends would care about. It was strange, when she was Deputy Chief she hadn't actually been that close to Tao and his wife, but now she considered him a dear friend.
Tao sent her a Christmas card this year and in it was a picture of the team. She framed it and hung it on the wall even though Christmas was months ago it still brought her joy. They had looked happy. She missed them, but that part of her life was over. He let her know about his wife and son, Sanchez and his new lady, Provenza and Patrice, Flynn and his newest screw up or young ridiculous girlfriend, and he had kept her up to date on Sharon and Rusty.
Sharon. Brenda had missed Sharon the most. They hadn't spoken since the night Brenda quit the DA's office.
Brenda leaned back in her lounge chair and took a deep breath. She almost spilled her wine when she moved to wipe her face so she sat the glass down and just focused on the memory. It was one she had yet to fully process or let herself feel.
Two and a half years ago...
It was raining the night Brenda made up her mind to leave Los Angeles. She and Fritz had been fighting about dinner because "she never made him an actual meal anymore". Yes she had had the time, but the desire was not there. She didn't want to be that kind of wife. Not to him. It had come to that point. He had stormed out saying he was going to a meeting.
Brenda had looked around the house and felt truly lonely. She knew her mind was already in Atlanta with her father. Brenda put her things in her suitcase. Most of the stuff in the house was Fritz's now anyway, since he had insisted when they moved in that they get rid of her furniture from the "dead hooker's house". That had been a whole other argument. Brenda reached under the bed for a shoebox she had pushed under there six months ago when she left Major Crimes.
She pulled the pictures of her squad out that her mother and father had taken during one of their trips to see her. Brenda ran her hand over all the smiling faces and then pulled the pictures to her chest as a few tears ran down her face. Her team was family. She threw the pictures in the suitcase and then looked down into the shoebox at the envelope staring up at her. Brenda Leigh was scrolled across it in beautiful penmanship that could only belong to one person. She grabbed the envelope and sat down fully on the floor with her back against the bed. Carefully she unfolded the envelope and letter as though they were priceless works of art. She read to herself the letter Sharon had left sitting on her desk the last day Brenda had been Deputy Chief.
You are leaving me with a mess. The mess I can handle, you leaving I cannot. The past two years here with you have been both a blessing and a curse. We have gone from mortal enemies to somewhere right on the edge of friends, but there's a tension in there that I dare not put a name to for both of our sakes.
I have tried with all my might to save you from yourself, but tonight as I write this letter to you I realize you didn't need to be saved. You always had a direction even if no one else saw it. You were fearless and passionate in your pursuits. You led a division that would go to the end of the Earth for you because they respect and love you. As I move forward without you, I will try to remember to put forth that amount of energy and dedication into my life and leadership.
One day this letter may have a different meaning to you than it does here and now, but just remember. You are a wonderful woman and despite all of the recent events and all of the people that have wronged you, know that I tried my best to keep all of it from happening not because it was my job, but because I wanted to do it for you. I want you to know that you will be missed, if by no one else than by me. If you need a shoulder, I will be that shoulder. If you want a friend, I will be that friend. If you ever want, I will give.
Your Captain Raydor
Brenda wiped the tears and smiled to herself. She stood from the ground and returned the letter to its envelope, running her hands over it one more time before putting it in her purse. She left the empty shoebox on the floor beside the bed, gathered her suitcase and purse and headed out the door. She had one stop to make before heading to Atlanta. Brenda pulled up to Sharon's building and breathed deeply before making a run for it in the rain.
Brenda rushed up to the elevators and when she arrived on Sharon's floor she hurried down the hall before she could lose her nerve. She knocked three times and waited. Sharon opened the door and before she could say anything Brenda just blurted out, "Did you mean it?"
Sharon Raydor standing there in yoga pants and a worn black t shirt looked confused for a brief moment before simply saying, "Yes."
Brenda sighed in relief. She wasn't sure why she doubted it, Sharon didn't lie. She especially didn't lie about feelings. Brenda wasn't sure how long they stood there staring at each other smiling before Rusty's voice broke the connection. "Sharon? Who is it?"
"Brenda." Sharon's voice was smooth and quiet.
"Hey Brenda!" Rusty yelled. "Sharon I can't find the book and I'm going to be late!"
"Please come in," Sharon said, insisting with her eyes. Brenda could do nothing but comply. She stood in the entryway while she heard Sharon find Rusty's book and say something about being safe and call if he needed her. Then, the teenager was rushing out the door and it was just the two of them. During the wait, Brenda had lost some of her nerve. She wasn't even sure what she was expecting here, but she just knew she couldn't leave without seeing the other woman.
"Wine?" Sharon asked, moving to the kitchen. Brenda followed but shook her head no. "I uh-I have to drive."
Sharon stopped short of the kitchen and Brenda almost ran into her. She started to step back, but Sharon caught her arm and held her in place. "Brenda," her voice was lower than usual and the blonde could feel it awakening something in her.
"Sharon, I uh, I-"
"It's ok," Sharon said, stepping closer, looking into her eyes. They had both known, they had both fought it, and now that they had acknowledged it, Brenda didn't know what to do. "I know you are leaving me again."
Brenda hung her head. How did she know? She hadn't even told anyone else.
"Your eyes say it all. Brenda Leigh I know you. Your bravado brought you this far, but I can see your reluctance to commit. You aren't there yet."
Brenda just looked at the other woman and nodded ever so slightly. She didn't understand how this was happening, but it was and she needed to be brave for five more minutes. "I'm leaving for Atlanta and I don't know if I'm ever coming back."
"Will you stay for tonight?"
Brenda thought she was going to choke when she gulped at the insinuation. Sharon ran her hand over Brenda's left cheek and then leaned in to kiss her. It was soft and tentative until Brenda found herself kissing her back. They kissed for an unknown amount of time and it had felt right. It had felt as though no one had known how to kiss her until the Captain did it. When they finally broke apart Sharon's eyes were darker and her breathing more shallow. Brenda had wondered what she herself looked like in that moment. If she had to guess. She would say she looked happy.
"Maybe one day."
"When you're ready."
Brenda let her hands fall into her lap and tried to breathe normally. Almost three years ago she had been running when she came to Atlanta. She was running from Fritz and she was running from Sharon, but she knew it had been the right choice. Sharon was right, she hadn't been ready. Brenda had needed to find her own way. She had needed to reconnect with herself. She had needed to buy this apartment and watch the sunset while getting drunk on wine. She had needed to relive moments and experience them again with a calmer cooler head.
Brenda had no doubt in her mind that she had made the right decision. If she had stayed for Sharon, she would have screwed it up. She had been in a bad place at the time and the drama from her divorce would have clouded everything up even more. Brenda nodded. It had been the right decision and she now not only thought it but understood it. This wasn't the first time she thought about Sharon, but it was the first time she really let herself think about and remember the kiss. It was the first time she found herself wondering if Sharon was still there for her.
She picked up her wine glass and drank until it was empty and the sun had set. Tomorrow was her birthday and this was her celebration. She was finally getting her shit together. Her mama would be proud.