Thanks for hanging in there. Brenda/Flynn goodness to come. Please read and review.
The days leading up to the funeral are a complete blur and Brenda thinks she will never have a clear recollection of them. She has no idea how she would have handled all the arrangements without her parents' help. The members of her squad continues to drop in over these days to check on her and offer assistance where and when they can, except for Flynn. Brenda has not seen Flynn since that first night. She doesn't understand why but then has not had the time or capacity to dwell upon the question either.
The morning of the funeral she awakens early and takes her time getting ready. It seems silly but she wants to look her best, one last time, for him. While the initial grief and numbness have passed the prospect of getting through today's events is daunting. She has made the decision to not speak at the funeral. She has never been comfortable with public speaking even more so when it involved emotion. Sitting at her table putting on the last of her make-up Brenda thought about what she would have said. How Fritz was a good man. That he had loved and accepted her despite all of her shortcomings and flaws. That he had challenged her to be better than she was because he knew she could be.
Brenda can smell the breakfast her mother is cooking and knows she must leave this room and face this day. She heads into the kitchen.
"Good morning," her father says.
"Morning," Brenda replies. Her mother sits a plate of food in front of Brenda which she picks at it. Her voracious appetite has been absent from the beginning of this ordeal. Food, not even candy, had any appeal to her.
"Brenda," her mother starts "you need to eat."
"I know Mama, I'm just not hungry."
Her mother looks at her with concern. I'm okay, Mama, really," Brenda says and gets up giving her mother an awkward hug. "I'm okay."
A car service picks them up and takes them to the church for the funeral service.
As Brenda walks to take her seat at the front of the church she is overwhelmed by the amount of people in attendance. As she passes by she is relieved to see her squad there as well as Chief Pope and Commander Taylor. Claire is seated at the front of the church and next to her is Lt. Flynn. Brenda embraces Claire and nods at Flynn then takes her seat. The service is over quickly, Brenda barely taking everything in. Those in attendance move to the cemetery for the burial. Brenda manages to hold herself together. She will say her goodbyes later when she can do so privately.
After the service a reception is held back at the house. People mill in and out offering their condolences and attempts at solace. Many share with Brenda stories of Fritz and their interaction with him. Hoping to comfort her with shared history and reassurances of what kind of man he was. Brenda soon feels overcome with the attention and sneaks off to be alone. Hoping her absence will go unnoticed for at least awhile.
Flynn had not seen Brenda since that morning he had left. Gabriel had come by, surprisingly with Daniels in tow, to relieve him so he could go home and get some rest. Before leaving Flynn had peeked into the master bedroom to check on Brenda. She was curled up in the bed sound asleep but the her eyes were swollen and her face was puffy. His affection for her runs deep and he wanted nothing more than to comfort her but could not think of anything that she would welcome or that would be appropriate. She looked cold and he took a chance walking in to pull her blanket up over her shoulders. By instinct he reached out to smooth her hair and caught himself just in time. He didn't want to risk waking her or having to explain why he was in her bedroom.
When Flynn returned to the living room Gabriel told him that Pope had called the Claire and the Chief's parents. Instead of comforting the Chief he took the opportunity to do something that would actually be helpful, Flynn had offered to take care of Claire. She would know no one else in town and the Chief was in no condition to deal with Claire's particular personality. Flynn had picked Claire up at the airport that evening and was not surprised to find her as effusive in her grief as she was in everything else.
Lt. Flynn has finally managed to leave Claire in the care of a couple of Fritz's colleagues and is enjoying the respite from her. He was tucked away in the corner of the living room talking with Provenza. Flynn sees the Chief's mother approaching and moves out of the chair to let her sit.
"Willie Rae," says Provenza, "How are you doing?"
"Good, good Lt. Provenza. Thank you so much for coming," looking at Flynn Willie Rae adds "both of you. And thank you Lt. Flynn for taking such good care of Claire the past few days."
"My pleasure, ma'am. Anything I can do," replies Flynn.
Willie Rae and Provenza continue to chat for a few minutes and Flynn allows his mind to wander scanning the crowd. Then he hears Willie Rae say, "I haven't seen Brenda in a while. I wonder where she has gone off to."
"I could go look for her," Flynn's mouth offers before his mind can catch up.
"That would be wonderful Lt. I'm worried for her."
"We all are Willie Rae," Provenza adds as Flynn excuses himself.
Flynn meanders through the house looking for Brenda and not finding her. He finally comes to the closed door of the second bedroom and opens it to look in. He sees a wisp of blond hair on the opposite side of the bed and enters the room pulling the door shut again. If she hears him she does not let him know. He circles around and looks down to see her leaned against the side of the bed. She looks up at him briefly and then looks back down again. It is clear she has been crying.
Flynn steps over her and settles beside her on the floor leaning his back against the bed as well. They sit in silence.
"Your mother is looking for you," He says finally. "She's worried about you."
Brenda nods but remains silent.
"We're all worried about you," Flynn states. He doesn't expect a response but thinks she needs to hear it. To know that when she is ready she does not have to be alone.
He looks up and sees that they are sitting facing a murder board. There is a picture of Stroh in the upper corner of the board and other reports and pictures scattered across it. He knew the Chief was haunted by this case but had not realized the extent of her obsession until now.
"I don't know how to make everybody else feel better," Brenda says jolting Flynn out of his reverie. He looks over at her "That's not your job," he says. She is fiddling with the tissue in her lap.
"I wish they would all just leave."
Flynn eyes her for a moment, "I can make that happen," he says and there is not a hint of teasing in his voice. She looks at him then and realizes he would. If she said the word he would go and forcibly remove every single person from this house until she was satisfied. The realization causes a wave of relief to wash over her. It is a comfort that she can not explain.
"No, no. That wouldn't do," she says and moves her gaze back down to her lap. The silence takes over once again.
"Fritz wanted to have children." Brenda says. "He wanted to turn this room into a nursery but I told him no." She has no idea why she is telling Flynn this but the words are tumbling out of her. Brenda looks up at the murder board and over at Flynn who is watching her carefully. "I didn't want kids but maybe I should have. . . ." and her voice trails off as a fresh wave of tears starts. Flynn feels like a piece of himself is breaking seeing her in this much pain. Nobody should have to hurt like this especially not her. He moves quietly offering his hand to her, because he can think of nothing else to do, and she takes it holding him with a force that's surprising. Finally gathering herself she finishes, "I was selfish. I could have learned to be happy."
"Nobody can learn to be happy with something they don't want, Chief," he says. "Believe me I've tried. It's no use trying to convince yourself otherwise." She looks over at him, her eyes big and wet with tears. She is surprised to hear him say that. She wonders what it means and realizes that of all of her team members Flynn is the one she knows the least about. It feels like such an odd thought to have at a moment like this.
"We should go back out there I guess," she says halfheartedly. Using her free hand to wipe her face and nose with a tissue. Her other hand is still gripping desperately to Flynn's and she isn't sure she ever wants to let it go.
"We can stay in here as long as you want." Flynn reassures her and gives her hand a quick squeeze.
"You've been taking care of Claire?" she asks changing the subject.
"Yes," Flynn responds feeling his face falling into a smirk. "For five very, very long days." He feels like he shouldn't tease her. Not now when she is going through so much but pawning Claire Howard off on each other had become a running joke and he can't help himself.
She doesn't say anything for a moment and he fears he has screwed up. Then she squeezes his hand even tighter and says, "I believe that it's called taking one for the team, Lt."
He cuts his eyes over at her, surprised. He sees the hint of a smile shadow across her face and thinks that just maybe she'll be okay. She moves to get up and he stands pulling her to her feet. He grabs another tissue from the box on the night table and hands it to her. "Thank you," she says and its meant to cover much more territory than just a tissue. Without warning she hugs him wrapping her arms around his middle and holding onto him tight. After a second of hesitation he returns the embrace and brings his hand up smoothing her hair like he wanted to do that morning five days ago.
"Anytime, Chief," he says softly, "you know where to find me," and he means it. He thinks he would go to the ends of earth if she asked him to. She lets him go and turns to leave. Flynn places a hand on the small of her back and guides her back out to the living room.