Title: San Francisco

Author: flamebrain

Disclaimer: NYPD Blue and its characters belong to S. Bochco, DM, ABC, etc. I am making no money from this endeavor.

Notes: Written before Diane's reappearance this season. No flames if you don't like the subject matter, please.

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It was never the same after she left. There was a void in my life, both personally and professionally. She disappeared, pain in her eyes, demons chasing her, trying to escape those who would make her pay for the simple mistake of loving her children. She went to rescue her son, to create a new life with two children and no back-up.

I got a postcard, once. I looked daily for her half-smile that never became full-blown. I worked well with my new partner, efficiently, solving cases without ever growing too close. I suppose she was nice, but there was no replacement.

I missed the warmth of her arms as she held me, rescued me from my own past. When I needed help, when I nearly turned to the bottle again, it was she who saved me. It was in her arms I fell.

But then she was gone, and there was nowhere to turn. I started on my own path of self-destruction, having an affair with a younger detective, something I had sworn not to do. Then I got involved with the doctor who treated my husband. The squad knew. They always did.

My new partner became my saving grace, in the end. Told me about taking hardship leave after the death of her father. It hit me that I could do that. I had thrown myself into work after the death of my husband, hoping that it would keep me sane. Work didn't. My partner did.

I knew I had to make changes. Make choices for myself instead of letting others make them for me. So I planned, I packed, I said my farewell to my husband's partner. The man he had asked to take care of me, and who did, to the best of his gruff ability.

I asked him to say my good-byes to the rest of the squad and slipped out with no fuss, no attention. I disappeared, as far as they were concerned. I stuck around long enough to hear about my ex's descent into hell, his disappearance, and his death. I told the woman who gave me my out where to find the man who looked after me. And then, knowing I was still too close to my ghosts, I left the city.

I had to heal. That was my plan, to lick my wounds in peace. But there was only one way to do that.

Looking at a tattered postcard, I knew. San Francisco, California, was the postmark, my map to her, my salvation. San Francisco, California, would be my place of healing. With her, the only one who ever understood my pain. In her arms, cathartic tears would be shed together.

San Francisco, California. I would go.