I do not own The Closer or any of its characters, or its settings.

Chapter Twenty

Is it true that when you are near death your life flashes before your eyes? She isn't sure. It's not like a movie, "this has been your life" sort of thing. Moreover your mind reflects on why you're dying, why you're sitting on a cold kitchen floor with hot blood pouring out of your stomach. It's the choices you've made getting up to that place, the things you regret not doing and the things you regret doing too. The good moments, the ones that stick with you, the happy moments and the things you've done right.

She supposes it is a little like a movie.

The cliff notes version of Sharon Raydor.

What was there to her life? Consciousness was fading, things were blacking out. She could feel Andy clinging to her, holding onto her so tight. Things were whirring around in her head. The mistakes she had made at school. Not standing up to Sam and walking away before she had lost a child and nearly her life. The failure at cases when they should have caught the bad guy earlier. The failed relationship with Andy. Her work at FID and the way they ran things. Little things like spending too much time apart from Will. Had she told him she had loved him? She couldn't remember.

Just let me go Andy, just let me go.

No bright, everlasting light. No tunnel with an angel standing in front of her. She had never been greatly religious. Her father had once said that her mother was Catholic, but Sharon had never known the woman long enough to be brought up into her religion. She didn't know what she believed, well that wasn't true. She believed in the woman in front of the steps of courthouses, with scales in her hands. She believed in the great god of pain and prayed that he would stop punishing her.

Anything was better than the pain.

Just more dark, more black. But less pain. It was slipping away.

Was this what her father had experienced, pulling the trigger? That must have been fast, almost painless. Maybe it had hurt for the first few seconds but after that there was nothing but sweet relief. She was almost envious, the pain was unbearable. She would reach for Andy's gun by her feet if she felt she could lift her arms. Things still hurt; there was pressure on her stomach. So much pressure, like all her organs were compacting instead of spilling out onto her once clean kitchen floor.

Not a chance in hell Sharon.

The words were not coming from her lips, and she recognised the voice so well. There was no light, why wasn't there any light? Just black, and then she couldn't feel anything at all.

X

Lieutenant Provenza walked into the interview room with a smug look on his features. Opposite was Jake Webster, put back in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. He had been picked up four blocks away from Raydor's residence by Lieutenants Stoker and Belluci, desperate to get their hands on him. He had been brought straight to Parker Centre and placed in front of Provenza. His three partners in crime had already been dealt with swiftly by the DA - a confession and a deal had already been placed. There would be no one to help him now.

"Hi Webster, Gabriel read you your rights, correct?"

"Yeah, he did. And my Dad won't pay for my lawyer anymore so I'm going stag. I don't want anything off of you guys."

Sweet irony. Daddy won't pay for a lawyer because it's obvious his pride and joy is as guilty as sin. "Had a lot of fun out there tonight?"

Webster smiled. "Not exactly."

Provenza smiled at him before shuffling the papers in front of him. "You escaped and tried to track down Captain Raydor, is that correct? Son, tell me the truth. There is no exit strategy for you now."

The man in front of him, still a cocky bastard, smiled. "Is that a crime, tracking down an old friend?"

"It is when that friend ends up raped and murdered."

That wiped the grin off of Webster's face. He looked at him for a moment, before his hands started to shake. "What? I didn't touch her, I swear! Listen I may have gunned for her before but come on, rape?"

Provenza looked him dead in the eye. "Webster we know you escaped from that truck and instead of running like a good little boy, you went for Raydor. We know you broke into her house, we know you beat her before raping her and then stabbing her. Sharon Raydor is in our morgue downstairs, Webster, and we're just double checking your fingerprints to the ones on the knife."

"I didn't kill her, I swear. Listen I may have… okay I tried to shoot her a few months back when I had the opportunity, and I was going to fuck her up tonight, but I swear I didn't, I got lost! You've got to believe me, I didn't do it!"

The wizened detective shook his head and looked at him. "Son, this is bad. You shoot a guy hitting on your girlfriend, then you gun for Raydor and Beatie and then bam one of them ends up dead. I think we should have been putting people on witness protection."

Webster was starting to cry. He was holding his head in his hand and was weeping onto the table. "I swear I didn't kill her, I promise! I wouldn't have raped her either, dude I'm not some sort of sick fuck! I wouldn't…fuck."

"But you did shoot the guy hitting on your girl?"

"Yeah, but I didn't kill him! I aimed not to, fuck don't you believe me?"

Provenza rolled his eyes and passed a pad of paper over to him. "We need a statement about tonight's events. Everything that happened. If we can prove that you're telling the truth, then we'll have to see if we can change the murder charges. Let me tell you this, Jake. You may have been an FID victim, but Sharon Raydor was a cop, and a damn good detective in Robbery Homicide, despite the stick up her ass. No one takes kindly to cop killers."

Webster took the pad and began to write down his statement. When he had finished, Provenza looked over it. It was accurate, if a little self serving. He kept going back on himself, making sure that although there was previous charges, he wrote that he knew of them and wouldn't do anything so stupid again. Jake Webster should have been a lawyer instead of a cop.

"Well Webster, you've admitted to the assault with a deadly weapon of Charlie Grundy, the attempted murder of Sharon Raydor and the assault with a deadly weapon of Jimmy Beatie, as well as escaping from the prison van. And you do say you got lost trying to kill Sharon Raydor for a second time. Thank you, that's all we need."

The ex cop looked up at Provenza, shocked. "What the hell? What's going on?"

Provenza tucked the paper inside his folders. "Jake Webster, I'm going to get a cop in here to arrest you and take you to the DA, now that you've confessed instead of playing us around. Adding to the fact that you tried to run, you should get some years inside. They'll love you Jake, a pretty boy ex cop like you. You'll probably see some old friends there too."

"Wait, what about Raydor? I didn't kill her!"

His eyes glazed over for a moment before he turned to Webster. "We know you didn't. After your little escape attempt, Chief Pope was worried about her safety. He sent Sergeant Beatie, who decided to flip when he discovered she was involved with someone else. He raped her and stabbed her, before being shot in the head by Lieutenant Flynn. Captain Raydor is in a serious coma, they don't know if she'll make it. Even if she does, you're going to go away for a long, long time."

Provenza walked out of the interview room and breathed deeply. He handed over to two other officers, handing them the paperwork. He needed to get to the hospital. In his pocket he found the handkerchief he had lent to Flynn. He didn't know whose blood that was.

X

The nurse had never seen such a sombre bunch of cops before. They were all waiting for one of their own to come out of surgery, her second surgery in so many hours. The woman had received severe abdominal wounds and had been the victim of rape. The doctors were trying to save her, but things were not looking promising. She hoped she wouldn't be the one to tell them that their friend wasn't going to make it.

Brenda Leigh Johnson entered the waiting room with Lieutenant Provenza, bearing good news about Jake Webster. But it didn't look like any of them wanted to hear it. Tao and Sanchez were standing, unsure why they were there. Claudia and Simon were sitting together, Simon in tears. Tony was on the phone in the corner, rambling something to someone. Flynn was sitting on his own, covered in blood. His hands, his forearms and even his chin were bloody, and his eyes were glassy.

"Okay, I think it would be a good time to get some facts straight," Brenda announced, beckoning Gabriel to get out a pad and paper. "So Sergeant Jimmy Beatie left Parker Centre to inform and potentially protect Captain Raydor at approximately 18:26 pm today. At 19:43 pm, two black and whites and an ambulance arrived at Captain Raydor's residence to find Sergeant Beatie dead, and Lieutenant Flynn on the floor putting pressure on a wounded Captain Raydor. That leaves just under an hour and twenty minutes unaccounted for. Explanations people."

Flynn spoke, his voice on gritted teeth. It was a bare whisper. "I thought Webster might be at the house. So I went, asking Claudia for back up and an ambulance. I ran in the house, gun drawn. Beatie was advancing on Sharon - Captain Raydor - with a knife for a second try. I shot him. He fell. I applied pressure, called for an ambulance and waited."

Brenda nodded, but could see that asking Flynn any more questions would be pointless. He was waiting to know if he had done enough to save Captain Raydor's life. There was something she wasn't completely set on though. "Do you know why Sergeant Beatie would do that to Captain Raydor? I thought he worshipped her."

Claudia started to speak, but Provenza raised his hand. "Chief, it was common knowledge that Beatie had a crush on Raydor. She didn't feel the same, so she let him down gently. She didn't date co workers or mess with the chain of command."

She was still confused. "So he…assaulted her because he turned her down?"

Provenza made a face. "You may want to sit down Chief." Brenda took a seat, her handbag on her lap. "The reason why Beatie most likely did those things was he discovered that Captain Raydor was having a relationship with a fellow police officer."

Brenda nodded. "Oh. Well I can see how that might have tipped him over the edge."

He gave a nod. "Especially when the person she was having an affair with was Chief Pope."

Brenda stood up. "WHAT?"

She sat back down at the looks she was given and was about to challenge Provenza's statement when Gabriel came back to them with two files. One was Sharon Raydor's. One was Jimmy Beatie's. Tony got off the phone and joined them. Flynn stayed where he was, staring into space.

"This is Jimmy Beatie's file. He only just passed the psychological test. The therapist said that he had some temper issues, but it was a slow burning thing. Fit for active duty, no problems on the whole…there were some allegations back in his hometown about things. His cheerleader girlfriend accused him of rape in their senior year."

"Why wasn't it ever picked up on?" Sanchez asked.

Gabriel checked the files. "Because the girl had a tendency to cry wolf about these things. The one time they did check her out for rape, the time before Sergeant Beatie, they discovered no tearing, no bruising. And a hymen."

"I doubt she was lying the time after," Provenza muttered.

Gabriel shook his head and kept reading. "Background was the girl cheated on him. The academy agreed it was some girl out looking for attention and revenge after he broke up with her. The repressed anger would be fine, as long as it was channelled properly. That's why they put him into FID. He was a powder keg ready to break."

Brenda nodded, and Gabriel moved the other folder aside and pulled out Sharon Raydor's. It was funny; they had been trying desperately to get a hold of this file for ages, to get her removed from the LAPD. It was after both units together were trying to solve a mystery that they finally discovered the whole truth about Sharon Raydor.

Gabriel opened the file slowly. He flicked through a few of the pages and turned to the Chief. "Captain Sharon Raydor. Her mother left when she was real young, her Dad took care of her. We know all what happened with her Dad and his death." He turned another page and his eyes grew wide. "She married her high school sweetheart, one Sam Broker."

"Not Sam Broker, gang leader?"

He turned over a new page. "Looks like. Didn't you say he seemed interested in her? He did know her Dad."

"Well that explains a few things. I can't believe someone like Raydor would get involved with someone like Broker. Why did they divorce?"

"They got married in Vegas on a road trip between New York and Los Angeles. You wouldn't think of it from Raydor, would you? They divorced two years amicably, although judging from these pictures and this medical report, I think she wanted to get out of it a little more than he did."

Brenda took the pictures from Sergeant Gabriel and looked them over. They were horrible. Cigarette burns on her arms. And on her back were crisscrossing white scars, she was covered in them. She read the associative notes. Brought in by her brother, extreme loss of blood. Marks consistent with a whip, and whipping over time. She had miscarried.

"Anything else Sergeant?" Brenda asked, her body in a state of shock.

"She went back to New York, studied linguistics. She returned to the LAPD, and joined the academy. She gave full disclosure to the Chief about her previous relationships, and the head of the Gang Unit at the time thought she could give some great insights to help with the growing number of gangs. She tried, but they soon got wise and changed things around. She was transferred out several years later….her Sergeant Rank was awarded for an arrest with a different gang than Broker's. Bad kid with bad problems tried to change things for the better."

The nurse interrupted them and rested a hand on Brenda's shoulder. "Sharon Raydor is in room 13 upstairs on ward 5. She survived the surgery and they fixed most of the abdominal bleeding, but she's now in a coma. They're not sure if she's going to wake up. I'm sorry."

Brenda looked across and saw Flynn had already gone.

X

She looked so pale, lying there in the bed. She was wearing some sort of hospital gown and covering her was a thin sheet. She looked so small, so hollow. He was so used to seeing Sharon Raydor up and about and pissing people off that the sight of her in the bed, lying there, was killing him. There was still blood on his hands, so Flynn found the nearest sink and scrubbed up to his elbows, tearing the skin off in the process as he cleaned himself viciously. He took off his jacket and dried himself.

Andy reached over and held her hand.

"Sharon, you need to come out of this. You need to wake up and stand up and come back to work. You need to just be alive, okay? We've got so many bad guys to put away yet Sharon, we're not through. You can't leave me. You can't. We've only just started getting to know each other again. Damn it Sharon, stop being such a selfish bitch and come back. Because I…you're one of the only women who I can stand. Even when you were with FID and a bitch, I just remembered you throwing up in one of our girl's bathrooms."

He reached across and gave her a soft kiss on the forehead. "I love you Sharon. You gotta come back. Because I don't know how I'm going to deal with Provenza without you."

Brenda watched him from the doorway, not wanting to disturb their moment. It looked like Flynn was going to be staying with her until and if indeed she woke up. Provenza stood beside her, looking for a brief moment on the still form of Sharon Raydor and the hunched figure of Andy Flynn. They left the two to it, former partners separated by ethics and the job, coming together once more.

X

Will Pope was in his hospital bed, his shoulder throbbing. The pain was tough, not as bad as when he had been initially shot, but still pretty painful. By his side was his son, reading him articles from a magazine he had picked up in the hospital gift shop. Tommy seemed mellower, calmer. And Will was glad. His phone was in his car unfortunately, and as soon as the nurse had done her last round he was going to ask for Tommy's so he could call Sharon.

"Oh my god Will!"

He turned around to look at the woman in the doorway, but his mind wouldn't register who it was. Jean Denny, his first ex wife and Tommy's mother was there. She looked good, a little pale but still as beautiful as ever. He had talked to her a little over the years, but hadn't really seen her. He didn't go up to DC much, and it was usually Steve who brought their son down.

Jean came into the hospital room and stopped a few feet short of Will and Tommy. She looked at her son. "I got your voicemail. Took the quickest flight out of DC."

Tommy looked at his mother. "Dad talked me out of it."

Jean looked relieved, and then back to Will. "What happened to you?"

"Got shot on Tuesday. Dragging his sorry ass out of that car pulled out my stitches."

Jean reached over and kissed her son's head, lingering to smell his hair and revel in the fact that her son was alive. Will didn't know how she must have felt on the plane ride over to LA, wondering if at any point her son would be dead. Wondering if she would feel it. She then reached over and kissed Will on the cheek, the first physical contact they had had most likely since the slap she had gave him when he had announced his affair with Estelle.

"Thank you Will," she whispered against his skin, kissing him again.

"Well look at this happy family reunion…"

"Daddy!"

Will propped himself up just as Caitlin flung herself over his chest. As he grimaced in pain, Tommy caught his little sister around the middle and pulled her onto his lap. Brendan hovered around, but stayed by his older brother's elbow. Obviously their father was in more pain, and cuddles were out of the question. Tommy turned his head slightly to see Estelle St James in the doorway, Caitlin and Brendan's mother. He rolled his eyes and reached for his Dad's hand. Caitlin joined them, and Brendan put his hand on top.

"I got a call from the babysitter saying that you had gone into hospital and asking if I could pick the children up. I was one of the emergency contacts. Life and death apparently. The kids wanted to see you, so here we are."

Jean stood up and looked at Estelle. The two women had never really met, but of course they knew each other. Will didn't want to get into a fight, he hadn't been married to either woman for quite some time, and the only connection he had to either was the three beautiful children sitting on one chair, holding his hand. They made eye contact, not really saying anything, trying to psych the other one out. Tommy could see his father was getting tired and was going to ask them to sort out sleeping arrangements and leave when the situation got much worse.

"Will! How could you not tell me it was Raydor who you were dating?"

Tommy clutched his head and the two younger ones looked around and started to giggle. Will looked up to see Brenda and just shook his head. "Because it wasn't any of your damn business!"

"Wait, you're seeing someone? When did this happen?" Estelle asked, turning to the kids. "You didn't mention anything."

"Neither did you Tommy."

The teenager placed Caitlin on the side with her father, once again clinging onto his side. Tommy looked at Brendan and gave him his seat. He stood up. "Okay, listen up. Yeah my Dad is dating someone new, they're moving in together. She's lovely, she's great and all three of us like her. But it's none of your damn business because I don't live with Dad anymore and you fucking left Estelle." His Dad gave him a look. "Frakking left Estelle. As for you Chief Johnson, yeah Sharon is a cop. But you haven't been together for over a…frakking decade. So step off your high horse and go back home. You're not welcome here."

Brenda nodded, and started to leave before Provenza came in. He looked at Chief Pope and smiled weakly. "Chief, can we have the room?"

"Lieutenant Provenza, I don't need a lecture right now about dating members of staff."

Brenda looked at Provenza and shook her head. "Will, it's about Webster. And Sharon."

Will sat up straighter in the bed. "Tommy, take Caitlin and Brendan, your mom and Estelle out of here please. I need to talk to Chief Johnson and Lieutenant Provenza by myself."

Tommy took Brendan by the shoulders, and Provenza picked up Caitlin and brought her out, leaving Brenda alone with Will. She took a seat next to him. "I'm sorry for yelling at you. It's just been a really shocking evening, and that was what I focussed on. I'm sorry Will."

"It's okay Brenda, I know that me dating your arch nemesis bothers you. But Sharon is an amazing woman, and I love her. In fact…" Will went into the jacket pocket at the end of the bed and pulled out the small ring box. "I'm going to ask her to marry me. I can't imagine life without her, and I would be crazy to let her go."

Brenda could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She clasped Will's hand, and she could feel him start to tremble. "Brenda, what is it? What happened? Is Sharon okay?"

"We picked Webster up a few blocks from Captain Raydor's house. Provenza got him to confess, there won't be a trial. You sent Jimmy Beatie to protect Sharon, didn't you?"

Will shifted in the bed. "I did. He loves her; I thought he'd do a good job protecting her. I had to go to Tommy. He was going to kill himself."

"Oh Will," Brenda started crying, and squeezed his hand tighter. "You are such a good man. Jimmy didn't protect Sharon. He had a mental breakdown."

"What?"

"He raped Sharon….and then he stabbed her. Twice. In the stomach."

She could see Will's face grow pale, and his hands shake wildly. "No, it can't be. Not Jimmy. He loves her, he…I sent him there to protect her, Brenda. To protect her."

She shook her head and held his hand tighter. This was worse than any notification she had ever had to do. "Jimmy raped and tried to kill Captain Raydor. Flynn shot him, he's dead. She's in a coma. They're not sure…"

Her words were cut off with Will vomiting onto the floor, his body shaking and racking with sobs. Brenda held him as he cried. Outside, as Provenza explained to Tommy what had happened, the teenage boy slid to the floor and felt numb.

X

Brenda unlocked the door and came home. At the kitchen table was Fritz with the remains of a Valentine's dinner and burned out candles. He was not mad, she had called him and explained and was waiting for her to get home.

"You okay?"

She shook her head. "I just had to tell Will that the woman he was going to propose to tonight is in a coma, because someone who he trusted to take care of her raped and stabbed her. I also find out that the woman who I've hated all these months is a lot more broken then I thought she was. And I'm not sure what is going to happen to Andy Flynn."

Fritz moved from the chair and held his wife, wanting to comfort her. "I'm sorry Brenda. I'm so sorry."

"Never leave me."

She clung onto her husband, wanting to feel close to something and get the sight of Andy Flynn covered in blood and Will Pope crying out of her mind. But it wasn't working. And she started to cry.

X

Her entire body hurt.

She could hear the bleep of machines around her. Her body hurt like she had been put through a shredder. Everything apart from her hand, which had a different type of pressure. Things were foggy, but slowly they were coming back to her. Little things, like bookcase dust and fresh coffee on clean sheets. She remembered fragments of conversation, and when her mouth worked she opened her lips.

"Provenza is your fucking responsibility, not mine."

"Don't I know it?"

Sharon Raydor opened her eyes slowly and saw Will Pope holding her hand. She flexed her fingers, and clung back.

The important thing is this:

To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

Charles Dubois

Will watched his son put brand new socks in his chest of drawers. There were a few clothes in the wardrobe, and a large poster of some film Will didn't know hanging over his bed. There was nothing previously owned in the room at all, Tommy had chucked everything. All his posters, all his clothes, all his magazines…he'd even been bought a new phone with only two contact numbers in, his fathers and his mothers.

"You sure you want to do this? You know you don't have to," Will said, stepping into his son's room.

Tommy sat on the bed, looking at one of the few things he had brought to his new room. Only photographs. He placed the one of his mother and Steve and their family on his bedside table. "Yeah I am. DC is toxic for me, as is Harvard. I need a fresh start, and I want your help with that."

He continued to unpack, and his father helped him with a few things. The morning after his suicide Steve had come down, planning to drag the boy back to Harvard. But Jean finally stood up for her son, and said that he was free to do what he wanted. So Tommy wrote Harvard a letter and found out how much tuition he had wasted. He endeavoured to pay Steve back every cent, and he was working on getting himself a full time job so he could also save up money towards tuition if he decided he wanted to go back to college.

"Well I can do what I can. But you're going to have to work hard, get a job and take care of Caitlin and Brendan if I need to work late. I'll pay you for some babysitting, but I don't want any funny business."

"Funny business?"

"No drinking. No drugs. And no sex in this house. Estelle isn't happy about you being here, and I don't want her to take Caitlin and Brendan away."

"I don't want that either, Dad," Tommy said. "Don't worry; I don't plan to do anything like that. I just want to figure things out a little. Need to atone."

Will sat next to his son on the bed, and put an arm around his shoulder. "What do you have to atone for?"

Tommy looked at him, his eyes welling a little with tears. "If I hadn't have called you, then Sharon would be okay right now. She wouldn't be…"

Will kissed the top of his son's head. "Sharon is fine. Physically at least. She's out of the hospital now, but things are going to take a little while. It wasn't some random guy; it was someone we all trusted, even her. I'm glad you called me, because I wouldn't have been able to deal with the guilt if you hadn't, and that train had hit you."

Tommy stood away from his father and continued packing. He had been feeling guilty since Provenza had told him what happened, and no amount of talking had done anything to change his mind. Will was feeling the same share of guilt, but he knew in his heart that what he had said was true. They had all trusted Jimmy. It didn't help the heaviness in his heart whenever he thought about Sharon though.

His son had broken up with his girlfriend, packed up his life in both DC and at Harvard and moved down to Los Angeles. He didn't talk to any of his friends, only went online to play with his brother and sister. The rest of the time he read. He looked through books of his fathers and old case files in his study.

"Have you heard from her?" Tommy asked from his wardrobe. He looked up to see his father, but he had gone. He took that to be a no, and it was killing him.

X

White shirt. Black trousers. A jacket and her police badge in her pocket. She was sitting in the pews of a plain church in a small Californian town, not that far out from Los Angeles itself. In what appeared to be a close knit community, there weren't that many people attending. There were a few people, and what appeared like family at the front of the church, sitting and crying. There were a few people sitting at the back with very dry features.

At the end of the funeral, people went to the crematorium, and the coffin was placed on what seemed like a conveyer belt. As the family left the service, she stayed and watched the coffin moving through the little hatch and into the incinerator.

If she was a different sort of woman, she would have smiled.

But she wasn't, and so she just wiped a tear away and headed out.

"Excuse me, you're with the LAPD right?" asked a woman, and Sharon Raydor looked up to see familiar features, the same dark hair and dark eyes. Jimmy's younger sister.

"I am, yes, but I really can't talk. I need to head back to LA." She couldn't do this, she couldn't. She had only come to put that ghost to rest. Not for any mundane chitchat with his family.

The woman, whose name Sharon couldn't recall, gripped onto her arm a little tighter. Sharon wrenched it away. She still had bruises on her wrists and her mouth, even though they were fading just a little.

"Please. The officer who told us what happened made no sense. He must have been mistaken. Jimmy got shot trying to stop a man raping and stabbing someone, he wasn't doing it, right?"

Sharon looked the woman in the eye and moved the tails of her shirt up a little. The two stab wounds, not even a centimetre apart and at least three inches wide were still raw and red. They were healing, barely. The stitches were faint, but they were there. Soon they would turn as white as the ones on her back, another scar to her body.

"I don't know what to say to you. But the officer was correct. If I was you I'd bury your brother's remains and pretend whatever makes you sleep well at night. I know I'm not."

Sharon brushed past the sister and headed to the taxi waiting for her. She stepped inside and they headed to Los Angeles, far away from the small little town who were half mourning its own, and the other half gossiping. As the rural areas of California transformed into the bustling city, Sharon sat in silence, her thoughts blurry.

The doctors were surprised by her recovery initially, but the beatings she had endured at Sam's hands had given her a stronger body then she had thought. She had been out within a week, her body still sore but she had wanted to get out of the hospital room. There were plenty of cards and flowers, and Annie had helped her carry them all back to her house, where she was staying while her house was still a crime scene.

She changed her mind about where she wanted to go, and the driver adjusted accordingly. She wanted to see. It wasn't long before they pulled outside her house. Some of her things were still inside. Annie had been packing things up for her and putting them in storage. There was still crime scene tape on the door, yellow unlike the red of Internal Affairs. Sharon ripped the tape and slipped inside her house, the door still open.

There it was. Her kitchen. All the blood was gone. There were no ripped clothes lying on the floor. No bullet cases. The knife was in evidence. As probably were her clothes. She walked through her house into the living room where she found her mobile phone. It had so many missed calls from Will…she smiled for a moment before pocketing it. It had been buried down the back of her sofa. Jimmy. She wondered what moment had made him snap.

It was a picture of her and him, a beautiful happy shot. That was what it must have been. The final straw, seeing proof of her love. Sharon picked up the frame and threw it against the fireplace, watching the glass smash against the brick. She moved forward and looked at the pieces, the reflection of her in the glass. She looked crazy, she looked bruised.

She looked broken.

Sharon walked back into the kitchen and looked around. She could see the ghosts of Jimmy standing in the corner, she could see her sitting battered and bruised on the floor. Her and Andy with blood everywhere. She walked up the stairs and found the thing in her wardrobe that she had been looking for. She remembered the last time she had held one, she had spoken of unity and trust and working together.

As she walked down the stairs, she shrugged off her jacket and spun the baseball bat around in her wrist, a quirk she had picked up as a kid.

So I guess you're just a liar and a slut, aren't you? I loved you Sharon, but I don't think that things are going to work out. I was crazy for you Sharon.

Sharon Raydor picked up the baseball bat and swung it against the cabinet door. It broke, indenting the wood and caving in on itself. She smacked the table, knocking dents into it and breaking one of the legs so the thing fell down. She smashed up the floor tiles; she hit the sink and knocked one of the taps off. When the kitchen lay a wreck, the furnishings damaged and water flooding the floor, Sharon took a seat at the table. As the water pooled around her feet, she found her bag and the item inside it. Her father's gun.

She put the muzzle against her temple. It was cold, circular. Her body chilled, she could feel the water running over the bottoms of her shoes. She pulled the trigger.

No flash of light, no great bang. No bullets in the clip. Sharon put the gun on the table and looked at it. No great revelation, no epiphany. Just a coward's way out.

She called Annie on the way to Parker Centre, telling her about the kitchen. It would put the house down in price, but the rape and attempted murder would do that anyway.

Just like her father had known what to do, and Andy's father and Tommy in the car, Sharon knew what she had to do now.

X

Assistant Chief Julian Brody walked into the FID offices and saw what remained of the department. Lieutenant Stoker was doodling something on a pad. Lieutenant Belluci was staring at her packet of cigarettes. Lieutenant Williams was reading a book in a corner. The desk of Sergeant Beatie was bare of personal effects. The blinds in Captain Raydor's office were closed. Like a tomb.

"Everyone, can I have your attention?"

They all looked at him; they hadn't seen him come into the office. It was one of the smallest in the building. "Thank you for your attention. I'm afraid to say that this department is being disbanded, following an investigation into the practices of FID. All officer force investigations will be passed on to CID until further notice."

"What, you can't do this!"

Tony stood up and turned to Brody. Claudia quietened down, fuming in her seat. "Sir, you can't be serious. This department is needed."

He nodded and looked towards their obvious leader. "Captain Raydor had a special place for all of you; she looked past your obvious flaws, things that would have you kicked out of any normal department. You won't be returning to FID. When this department has been investigated and re-evaluated, it will be put back together in the new headquarters, with new personnel. New everything. Brand new start."

Claudia joined Tony on her feet and pointed a finger at Brody. "Captain Raydor won't stand for this."

Brody smiled as he looked towards the FID team. "Captain Raydor handed in her badge and gun fifteen minutes ago. She's no longer an officer of the LAPD."

"What?" Simon asked, his voice small. He turned around to see his colleagues were as clueless as he was. Claudia shook her head and sat back down. Raydor had left. She wasn't coming back to the LAPD.

There was a feminine cough behind Brody and Simon enjoyed seeing his face fall at the sight of Chief Johnson. Claudia wondered why she was there, had she come to revel in her defeat of Captain Raydor, finally after all those months? She wasn't sure; she looked like she was there for genuine reasons. Tony rested a hand on both Claudia and Simon's shoulders. What would happen to them now? No department wanted them, they had the stain of FID on them, and they had been put in FID initially because they were trouble.

"Chief Brody."

"Deputy Chief Johnson. How can I help you?"

She smiled a sickly smile and turned to the detectives. "I heard about Captain Raydor's departure from the LAPD. She spoke very highly of y'all, and I know Tony's work from personal experience. Until the new FID team is formed and Chief Pope finds you a good department to work in where you can do some good, I'd love for you to work in Major Crimes with me and my squad. You're excellent detectives, and it would be an honour to have you."

Brody nodded to Chief Johnson as he walked out, any ideas he may have had squashed by this act of generosity. Tony talked briefly to Simon and Claudia for a moment before turning back to Brenda.

"Thank you Chief Johnson. We'd be honoured to join you in Major Crimes."

Outside in the corridor, Brenda listened to the sounds of Claudia and Simon crying with Tony trying to comfort them, but she could hear the quiver in his voice. Everything had been ripped apart, both FID and Major Crimes. She opened up her purse and took out the small sheet of paper. She had seen it once before, but this wasn't a ploy to save her job, this was a ploy to save a person's soul.

Andy Flynn, after many years of service, had joined his old partner in leaving the LAPD.

Outside the offices of FID, Brenda began to cry, leaving tears on the letter of resignation.

X

Provenza saw Flynn at the bar, watched him take another sip. The last time he had seen his friend was on the kitchen floor of Sharon Raydor's house, blood all over the place, Flynn crying as he held onto the unconscious Raydor. He looked at him and walked over, and joined him on one of the stools at the bar.

"I'll have what he's having," Provenza asked, noting the coke in his hand. "The Chief told me that you quit. Flynn, you can't be serious. You can't just leave the LAPD."

Flynn took another sip of his drink and smiled at his friend. "I can, and I have. You know I heard Raydor did the same. Haven't heard anything from her, no one has. She might as well have died."

A drink was placed in front of Provenza but he ignored it, concentrating on Flynn. "But she's alive, you idiot. You saved her."

Flynn started to laugh hysterically and drunk from his glass again. He turned around to his friend and clasped his shoulder. "She didn't want to. We were sitting there, in her kitchen covered in blood and she wanted me to let her go. She was with Pope, she had faced everything…and she still wanted to go. And I wouldn't let her, because I couldn't deal with fucking something up, of losing another person. Did I ever tell you my Dad killed himself?"

Provenza shook his head. "No, you didn't."

"Yeah, when I was a kid. The old pipe in the car magic trick. I wasn't going to let her die, not after that. So I saved her life. And she hates me for it. I haven't talked to her, and all I see when I close my eyes is images of her with a knife through her gut, her torn underwear on the floor. If I had left quicker, if I had drove quicker, then she might have been okay."

Provenza was trying very hard not to shake Flynn, but in his mind he was being an idiot. So he settled for something in the middle and smacked him around the back of the head. "You blame yourself for not getting there in time. Pope and his son blame themselves for sending Jimmy to the house. She probably blames herself for not telling him the truth or some such crap like that. You all are missing the point, that Jimmy Beatie chose to do those things to her. There was nothing you could have done. He probably would have done it some other time. He was a nut waiting to crack."

After his speech, Provenza reached for his glass and took a sip. He wrinkled his nose initially. The taste wasn't unpleasant, in fact he liked the drink, but it wasn't what he was expecting. He had been expecting coke, not a healthy shot of Jack Daniels with it. The bartender must have got the order wrong, he had asked for the same as Flynn.

He looked at his friend who raised his glass at Provenza. "Cheers, Provenza. For fucking up whatever you do." He drained the rest of the glass and placed it down on the counter before walking out. Provenza looked to see the empty glass and Flynn's AA ring by the side of it.

X

Ben was packing up the last of the things on his desk. He had a flight to New York this afternoon, once he made sure that Sharon knew what she was doing. He wished he could stay in Los Angeles for a while, but he knew that Sharon wouldn't be staying for much longer anyway. His sister had been dealt a horrible hand at life, no matter what she did and who she helped, everything bad seemed to happen to her. Ben felt so sorry for his sister, but knew that she needed the space to sort things out herself now. After Sam he had been there for her, holding her hand throughout the last thirty years. Now she needed to make peace on her own.

"Nice chair, is it new?"

Ben spun it around and saw a person he hadn't seen for over twenty years, and if he had had his way, would never see again.

Sam Broker looked good for a man his age. Thick head of hair, strong body, expensive suits. Organised crime must pay well. "Get out."

"No time for old friends?"

Ben looked at the man who had broken his sister, who had ordered the breaking of his legs. He gave him a sharp look and spun back around to pack things up. "We were never friends."

"This is true." Sam walked around the office until he moved around to the other side of Ben's desk. On it was a photo of Sharon, a semi recent one at a party Annie had thrown. It was beautiful, and by the bright sunshine it was typical LA setting. "Pretty. You know a while back the police asked me to help out with her father's old case. I did, managed to help solve it. They said she was in New York, tried to find her but I couldn't. I called your office and they said you were based in LA. Wherever you go, she is already there. So where is she?"

Sam had never liked Ben. He had always thought that Sharon should have lived with him after her father's suicide instead of being put into care with another orphan. The teenage boy who helped his girlfriend with her grief was not welcome. He became her family, someone who she trusted even more than Sam himself. He had saved Sharon from the pool of her own blood. He had persuaded her to divorce Sam. And he had got his legs broken for his trouble. But Ben had never been truly scared of Sam, just what he represented. Now he couldn't hurt her sister anymore. Sam had always been a bully, had been beating her for too long. Jimmy had snapped and bruised her more than Broker could ever hope to accomplish.

"Sharon doesn't love you. Doesn't think about you much anymore. She was in LA for a while. Now she isn't. I don't know where she is. She finally exorcised her demons, Sam. I suggest you go back to your world, and I'll go back to mine. You have no hold on her anymore. She is out of your reach."

He clutched the box of belongings onto his lap and rolled down the gangway until he got to the door of his office. He looked back at the man who seemed so threatening to others. Ben realised he had seen worse. "You can see yourself out."

Ben kicked the door open and left Sam behind in his office.

X

Will was thinking about how quiet the house was. Tommy had taken Caitlin and Brendan to the park, and thus the house was his. Everything was too quiet. There should be a beautiful brunette sitting with him, debating the news on television and kissing him slowly without any of the kids around. She should have moved in by now. He sat up, not wanting to see ghosts on all of the furniture. He went in the kitchen to pour a glass of water when there was a knock at his door.

"Coming!"

He massaged his neck gently before opening the door to his visitor. He stared at the person on his doorstep, because he thought it was a mirage. But it wasn't, it was Sharon Raydor. She looked well, if a little tired. But she was still his Sharon, still beautiful and perfect to him. But he didn't know what to say. It was then that he noticed there was no gun or badge on her body. And there was a small duffel bag by her feet.

"You're leaving."

Sharon nodded and looked up at him, already crying. "Can I come in?"

Will nodded, and brought her bag in. They stood awkwardly in the hallway for a moment before Will brought her to sit on the sofa. She seemed nervous around him, and Will already feared the worst. He had known that it would come to this. In his heart he knew that she would leave him. He hadn't wanted to face up to the fact that she would be leaving everything as well. The month he had apart from her over Christmas had been painful, but he had known that she was close. This, this would kill him. He wouldn't be able to function without her nearby.

"You guessed right. I'm leaving. Handed in my badge and my gun a few hours ago and I'm heading on a plane out of LA."

"I see." He wanted to touch her, but he didn't know how. Shit, maybe that was why she was going. Because she worried he would treat her like glass. He didn't know what to do; he just knew he didn't want her to go. "Where are you going?"

Sharon smiled, the first tear trickling down her face. "I'm going to London. I've had a passport for a while, but I've never used it. So I'm going to London, see the sights and do some reading. Then who knows? Paris, Rome…I've got money. I could end up being part of some private detective firm in Denmark or something."

Will laughed and Sharon joined in, reaching across for his hand. He clasped it gently, his fingers running over her skin. Tracing the bruises Jimmy had left around her wrists. He reached for the other one and she let him take it, let him touch her. Her tears spilled over onto her cheeks, and Will feared he was doing the same.

"Tommy is doing okay. He's staying here in LA with me, and he's trying to get some work."

"That's good, that's really good. Will, you need to tell him that it wasn't his fault okay, and it wasn't yours and it wasn't Flynn's. It wasn't anybody's apart from Jimmy's. You know that's what they kept telling me in the hospital. That it wasn't my fault that I was raped, and they're right. My first right therapist. Jimmy was a bastard who had issues. And I know that if you hadn't gone after Tommy then you would be burying your son right now and I would be feeling the guilt you are feeling. And I would hate that."

Will nodded, and rubbed the back of her hands a little more. "I know, I know. Sharon…god I had all these words and all these things if I saw you again and now I can't think of anything."

"I know the feeling; I had this planned out in the car."

Will reached over and traced his finger over Sharon's cheek. She didn't flinch or turn away, just melted into his touch. Her tears spilled over as he choked on his words. "Don't leave me."

Sharon began to cry, racking sobs that left her gasping for air. Will found a box of tissues and handed them to her, before running to the kitchen and handing her a glass of water. She sipped it, before using one of the tissues to wipe her eyes. She used the same to wipe the tears on his own cheeks, lingering on his skin.

"I love you Will Pope. I have never loved any man as much as I have loved you, and that is a fact. And if I could I would stay here and I would live here and help you raise those three beautiful kids of yours."

"But you need to go."

"I need to go."

He sat on the floor and looked up at her. She was so beautiful, even with tears making her eyes red. He didn't know how he could let her go.

"I screwed up with Jimmy. I didn't ask to be raped and stabbed, but I wasn't truthful with him and the man I knew before that Sunday, well I owed him that. I have spent so much of my life regretting things Will, that if I stay and I walk in those halls and I lie in bed with you then I will regret it, I will regret it all until I end up like my father. I need to work things out. I need to figure out me. Like what Tommy did, what he's doing. He didn't know what he was doing; he was walking through the motions. He's trying to live."

Will bowed his head, and Sharon reached over and cupped his cheek. "The past few months with you have been amazing, and I have never felt more alive, believe me."

"But you need to figure out what you're doing, now you've finally realised you're alive."

"Yeah. I was always the broken woman who hid behind the badge to do her job. And you made me more than that. Jimmy took away everything I loved - he took away my love of the force, and the trust that I had, and he made me feel like these amazing months with you were dirty, and wrong, and I will not have that. I need to figure out things, and I can't do that behind dirty glass."

There were no more words to say. She had explained her reasons for going, and Will was going to let her leave. Keeping her would not help her, and he knew it. He carried her bag and walked her to the door. Will looked at Sharon on his doorstep, and tried to smile but it didn't reach his eyes. "You're not coming back, are you?"

"No. I'm not. I'm not going to make false promises and say 'maybe, one day', because that's not fair on any of you. Just, be happy Will." She put on a fake smile and touched his arm. "After a suitable mourning period has passed, you can date other people, but only good, nice people who the kids adore. And when I check on the LAPD in a few months time on their website I want your name under Chief. God, I love you Will."

She moved two feet forward and crashed into his arms. He held her as she cried and could feel himself do the same. Sharon broke the embrace and reached up to press her lips lightly to his. The contact was gone before he could know it was there, but he could feel her around him still. And he wanted her back.

"Keep safe Will. And tell Caitlin, Brendan and Tommy that I love them. And tell their Dad that he is an amazing man, and if things were different then I would happily grow old by his side."

Will nodded, and smiled. "I will. You tell the love of his life that she's amazing, and the strongest woman I know. And that I hope she finds what she's looking for."

Sharon left the doorway, heading down his path and into the waiting cab at the end of it. Will walked outside and watched her get into it, his hands balling into fists. He was going to let her go. Nothing he could do or say would change that.

"Sharon!"

"Yes?" Sharon looked around and saw him standing there. She bit her lip and held onto the cab door until her knuckles turned white.

"I love you too."

The cab sped away to LAX, taking Sharon with it. Will Pope sat down in the middle of his garden path, the LA sun beating down. He reached inside his trousers and pulled out the small box with the engagement ring inside of it. He took it out and kissed the tip. As he walked back into the house, his beeper went off. Calling in, there was a high profile murder that required his attention. Putting the ring back into his pocket, he grabbed his gun and badge and headed out.