As you guys have probably already figured out, the titles for each chapter of Pieces of My Heart came from my music library.

Some were direct sources of inspiration, others were simply picked randomly because I liked the title, and the chapters blossomed from there.

Obviously, I don't own any of the songs, and I'm not making any profit from them or the characters from Passions in this fanfiction. But I wanted to give credit where credit is due, and while I don't know all the songwriters, I can give a shout-out to the artists performing them.

I'm also going to be posting the short synopsis of the chapters in chronological order (along with their original chapter number) for the first time, just in case you wanted to go back and read Sheridan's and Luis's and Emma's story from the beginning in a more linear fashion. I wasn't too sure about the non-linear format when I started the story myself, but I have to say, I really grew to enjoy it. I hope you did, too.

The chapter titles for each section of the credits are lifted from my music library as well, each of them being a song that made me think of Sheridan and Luis in this story and provided additional inspiration to keep writing this story. At the end of each page of credits will be the artists' names so you can go check the songs out if you haven't already heard them.

There also, maybe, possibly, might be a few little surprises included in here as well. Think deleted scenes, bonus material, the fanfiction equivalent of DVD easter eggs. It's all unrated, so take that as you will.

Just thought I might give you fair warning. ;)

Without further ado, roll credits!

1. (~5~)

Title: Love Comes
Rating: G
Warnings: none, that I can think of
Characters/Pairings: mentions of Sheridan/Other, Sheridan, Eve, brief mentions of Gwen, Ethan, Luis
Summary: prompt: gloves. It seemed Jean-Luc had left behind more than just the knowledge that another man had used her for his own nefarious purposes, exploited the family name.
Author's Notes: the title for this chapter comes from a song by The Posies. I confess, this is one of those chapter titles I picked randomly. I wanted something that spoke to the transformation involved when a child comes into someone's life, how it can change your priorities and mindset. While not a parent myself, I would think that love of a child, any child, definitely changes you. Even if it's unexpected (which it often can be). At any rate, I think this title works, because Sheridan may not have planned for Emma, but she came along, and so did Sheridan's love for her. See? Jean-Luc was good for something, lol. At least in my Passions-verse.

2. (~1~)

Title: Accidental Babies
Rating: PG
Warnings: mild swearing
Characters/Pairings: past Sheridan/Other, pre-Sheridan/Luis
Summary: prompt: pregnancy test. "You're late."
Author's Notes: I borrowed this title from a song by Damien Rice. The song is actually about a totally different situation between two quite tortured-sounding lovers (lol), and it's really pretty depressing, but you guys should know by now that I love angst, at least good angst. Trust me. There's good angst, and then there's bad angst. Anyway, the actual content of the song doesn't tie in to this chapter, but its title most certainly does. After all, it was the whole idea of Sheridan having one of those accidental babies and Luis falling in love first with said baby and eventually Sheridan herself that inspired this entire story in the first place. I think it worked out pretty well, don't you?

Luis finds out…

"Crane," Luis grit out her name distastefully.

Sheridan froze in place, her blue eyes snapping up to meet Theresa's startled brown eyes on the other side of the cart they were currently filling up with a variety of athletic equipment left behind in the departing children's wake. "Yes?" she answered, not bothering to turn her head, meet Luis's eyes (if she had, she'd have seen that they were dark, dangerous, daring her to defy him). "Drill Sergeant," she muttered beneath her breath a half-second later.

Theresa choked back a giggle, biting her lip as she tucked a heavy dark strand of hair behind her ear and snuck another glance at Sheridan with admiring, dancing doe eyes.

"Crane," Luis repeated, his tone heavy with warning. "My office. Now."

"I'm being summoned," Sheridan barely suppressed a sigh.

"I'll finish up here," Theresa offered, unable to resist a parting smile as Sheridan turned to go, bravely prepared to meet her unknown fate head on.

Sheridan entered Luis's office to find him standing behind his desk, his back to her, and recognizing the anger in his rigid stance, she wisely shut the door on Theresa's (helplessly, hopelessly) curious, listening ears. Resigning herself to the inevitable, she ventured forth with a singularly (deceptively) simple question, "What did I do now?" Sheridan nearly jumped out of her skin when Luis whirled around with barely any warning, slapping a small, crinkle-edged piece of paper onto his desk.

"What the hell is this?" Luis demanded.

Sheridan's heart leapt into her throat, pounding furiously away as she recognized the paper for what it was, her latest, misplaced sonogram (that she had searched the entire cottage for just this morning, without any luck, and no wonder…it had been here all along). Thinking fast, she answered him with defensive sarcasm. "You're the aspiring detective, Supercop. You tell me." Her trembling fingers gripped the edge of the desk (when had she crossed the room?), and she willed herself to breathe normally, hell, to breathe at all, under his unflinching, silent glare.

Luis's dark eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched, momentarily, before he snapped, "I know what it is."

Lifting her shoulders in a shrug and her chin in willful defiance, Sheridan's met Luis's gaze, her blue eyes glittering at him in challenge. "You asked." Her fingers relaxed, crept closer to the paper. They recoiled when Luis snatched it up, withdrew into a small, tight fist at her side as he glowered at her, moved around the desk, invaded her personal space.

"I want to know whose it is," Luis told her.

Unconsciously, Sheridan took a distancing step backward. "I don't think that's any of your business." Her eyes shied away from him, and her hand itched to settle protectively on her abdomen.

"If one of those girls out there is in trouble, it is my business," Luis insisted. "Their parents entrusted them to my care, your care. If…"

Sheridan cut him off. "You're not responsible, Luis. Surely you know that." She couldn't tell which part of her statement had thrown him more off-balance—the part where she'd used his given name or the part where she'd released him from any expectations of culpability. Either way, she'd stunned him into silence, and he was looking at her with new eyes, searching eyes, eyes that slowly drifted downward, darted over the slight(est) curve of her previously flat belly and lingered. When he began speaking again, more softly and without as much heat, Sheridan mentally cursed his perceptive nature (with his investigative skills, there was no denying he was going to be a hell of a detective someday) and found herself powerless to look away.

"If someone were in trouble, I'd want them to know I'd be there, if they needed me. All they'd have to do is ask." Luis set the piece of paper back down on the desk, swept his thumb over the grainy image in an almost caress, pushed it closer to her, until a tattered, well-worn corner brushed against her arm, made her shiver involuntarily.

Sheridan swallowed past the lump lodged in her throat, past her still swelling, stumbling heart, and nodded. "Good to know," she murmured. "Is there anything else you needed?"

Luis considered her for a long moment before withdrawing from her side, returning to stand behind his desk, palming his keys. "No. Nothing else. I'll lock up here. Tell Theresa to leave the rest of the equipment for tomorrow."

"I can put it up."

"There's no overtime in community service, Crane," Luis answered her. "At least as far as I'm concerned, there's not," he amended. "Go home. It'll still be here when you come back tomorrow."

"Supercop," Sheridan couldn't help but smile. "Are you…dare I say it…is this you trying to be nice to me?"

"Don't be delusional, Crane," Luis grumbled. "This is me tellingyou to go home, nothing more. Not that it is any of your business, but an old family friend is in town and Mama's cooking him dinner. The longer you stand there…" he trailed off meaningfully. "Go home."

"I think I will," Sheridan said, subtly removing the sonogram from the desk and pushing it into her jeans pocket when (she thought) Luis wasn't looking.

"Finally," Luis rolled his eyes, holding the office door open for her as she preceded him through it. "Theresa! You ready?"

Theresa joined them as they walked toward the Youth Center's exit, her happy chatter echoing off of the empty walls as her brother turned off all the lights, shut everything down. "I've been thinking."

On the other side of Theresa, Luis groaned, and Sheridan ducked her head to hide her smile as the teen started to plead her case.

"We should have a party, here at the Youth Center. We haven't had one in ages, and Sheridan doesn't know that many people here in Harmony." Theresa paused briefly to take a replenishing breath, then continued, "She needs to meet more people if she's going to stay, and I thought…"

"You'll use any excuse, won't you?" Luis sighed, resigned to his fate (he really didn't like that word, just the mere thought that his choices weren't his own…).

Theresa's brown eyes widened (with innocence?) as she defended herself. "It's not an excuse, Luis."

"It's not?" Luis echoed with a tiny smile, hurrying to avert his gaze when he realized he'd caught Sheridan's sparkling blue stare. "I guess it's not a terrible idea," he relented reluctantly.

"Oh, Luis," Theresa grabbed her brother's arm excitedly. "It's not a terrible idea at all. It's a wonderful idea. We can invite everyone we know, introduce them to Sheridan, have food and music and dancing."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Luis tried (failed) to be the voice of reason as they paused, as a group, in front of Sheridan's car. He raised a brow at Sheridan when he realized, for the first time, that it wasn't the same vehicle that had crashed into his police jeep (twice!)—it was sturdy, sensible, still (impossibly) stylish, safe. Luis silently berated himself for not noticing (the clues) sooner and gently pushed his babbling teenaged sister toward their own waiting vehicle with a warning. "We're already running late as it is."

"Bye, Sheridan," Theresa waved. "We'll talk more about the party tomorrow," she promised.

Rubbing a calming hand over his face, Luis looked at Sheridan over the top of the car's newly open door and offered a few, (un)necessary words in explanation. "She dreams big."

Sheridan's lips twitched with the urge to smile. Somehow, she refrained. "It's the only way to dream." Lowering herself to the supple leather seat below, she pulled the seat belt across her shoulders, cinched it carefully over her hips, and watched him, waited for him to say more. When he didn't, merely remained silent, she lowered her voice, teased him, "I trust you won't abuse your privileges as a member of the Harmony Police Department to make it home, Supercop. The law is the law." A laugh spilled from her lips as Luis cut off anything else she might have said by giving her door a tiny, intent shove. She rolled her window down in time to catch his parting words as he took his leave of her, on his way to join his sister in the jeep.

"Doors open at 3:00 tomorrow, Crane. Don't be late."

Sheridan went home, tucked the sonogram picture in a safe place in the corner of a little picture frame holding a blurred, nearly forgotten image of her mother in the Crane gardens, and curled up on the overstuffed sofa with a book in her hands. She slept, peacefully, until morning, and at the appointed hour, she found herself seemingly the only person in the Youth Center when the first children pushed their way through its doors.

Theresa waved to her when she saw her, leaving her best friend's side, and holding out a folded sheet of paper. "Luis wanted me to give you this."

A man Sheridan vaguely recognized as Sam Bennett, Chief of the Harmony Police Department, approached her with a reserved smile on his face.

"I hope you don't mind dealing with me today," Chief Bennett said pleasantly. "My brother's in town, and he and Luis are good friends. I volunteered to supervise you and the kids for the rest of the evening to give the two of them more time to catch up."

Pushing back an inexplicable swell of disappointment, Sheridan gave him a bright smile in response. "I don't mind at all. Did you have anything in mind for me to do today?"

Sam grinned at her, and the familiar teen still standing by her side. "Theresa tells me you two have a party to plan. Other than that? Nothing."

Her fingers still clasping the folded note tightly, Sheridan nodded at him in response and glanced over at Theresa. "Let me put my things up in the office, and I'll be right there."

"Whit and I'll be waiting," Theresa pledged.

When Sheridan came back, she held a well-loved, comfortably shabby teddy bear with faded, friendly eyes in her hands and wore a soft, mystified smile. "I found him on the desk, wearing a post-it note with my name on it," she said by way of explanation when the girls looked to her for answers.

Theresa's dark eyes sparkled with suspicion as her fingers combed through the bear's soft fur. "My brother's had Buttons for as long as I can remember. I wonder why…"

Easily reading Sheridan's discomfort with Theresa's line of questioning, Whitney took the sparkly pen away from her friend's hand and pressed the tip to the pad of paper resting on her knees. "If we're going to have this party next week, Theresa, we don't have much time," she reminded. "Who do you want to invite?"

So distracted, Theresa didn't notice the grateful smile Sheridan sent Whitney's way, and her hair fell over Whitney's slim shoulder as she leaned in for closer inspection as the other girl scribbled neatly away. "That's easy, Silly. Everybody."

Whitney sighed and cast her eyes heavenward, causing Sheridan to smother down a laugh. "Let me make this easier. Who do you not want to invite?"

Theresa's dark hair tumbled over her shoulders as she bit her lip, returned her attention back to Sheridan. "Sheridan, what do you think?"

But Sheridan was distracted, cuddling Buttons close and wearing that same soft smile from earlier.

Theresa's gaze pivoted back to Whitney, and she shrugged her slender shoulders. "I still think we should invite everybody. Luis isn't here to say no."

There'd be other teddy bears, stuffed animals galore, more dolls than any one little girl could ever play with (what good's an empty dollhouse Ethan would argue in his defense), even a curious, trouble-magnet, aptly named dog (Lucy, you've got some explaining to do), but Buttons? Buttons was special and would forever remain so, in Sheridan's eyes and most definitely those of her daughter.

Buttons was the first little piece of Luis's heart gifted to them both; he wouldn't be the last.


They dance…

"You don't have to eat that."

Sheridan lifted hopeful blue eyes to Luis's darkly handsome face, and the fork in her hand (picking at and pushing the healthy-sized wedge of a deceptively appealing piece of cake around the edges of her plate) stilled. Her mouth acted without her permission, as it so often did in Luis's presence, and she blurted, "I don't?"

A smile threatened on Luis's lips, but he tamped it down.

Glancing around the Youth Center brimming full of the good people of Harmony (everyone Theresa knew and loved, anyway), finding Grace Bennett a few feet away, still wearing that same friendly, welcoming smile, Sheridan bit her lip again, before sighing miserably. "I don't want to hurt her feelings. She's so…nice. And the cake looks good. It's just…Tomato Soup Cake? Really? It sounds, it sounds, you know what it sounds like. Help me out here, Supercop," Sheridan pleaded, feeling (and looking) a little green around the gills.

Luis's dark eyes sparkled with humor as he grabbed a napkin from the table behind them and carefully wrapped the cake inside it. "Careful, Crane, or you're going to let everybody in on your little secret." He returned to her side after disposing of the cake and her plate, a plastic red cup in hand, offered it to her. "Sip this, and try breathing through your nose," he advised. He watched as color gradually returned to her cheekbones and felt himself relax a little bit when he saw a little bit of the fire return to her blue eyes when they drifted open to catch him in the act.

"Take a picture," Sheridan muttered. "It'll last longer." Taking another long sip from the cup in her hand (she wondered who had brought ginger-ale to the party, mentally thanked them), she looked again at the people gathered around them, laughing and having a good time, some of them even dancing, and decided a simple measure of gratitude was only right. "Thanks."

Clearly uncomfortable with her being agreeable in any shape or form, Luis shook his head, his eyes resolutely on the partygoers and not her. "Thank Theresa for the party, not me."

"I have," Sheridan softly said. "I will." Turning to face his profile, she set her cup down on the table, gazed at him thoughtfully. "I wasn't talking about the party."

Feeling her eyes on him, Luis swallowed down any number of smart-assed, needling retorts with extreme difficulty (he'd never been the type to pull a girl's hair before, but with her, it seemed he damned sure couldn't help himself; the urge was borderline instinctual), cleared his throat, and simply nodded in acknowledgment. Veering dangerously into personal territory, he couldn't stop himself from asking a question that had been weighing heavily upon his mind, "Does the father know?" When Sheridan took an inordinately long time to respond to his question, he turned to her, remorse in his dark eyes, apologies on his lips as the blue of her eyes dimmed. "None of my business. Forget I asked."

Sheridan finally answered him with a vague dismissal, "The father isn't in the picture."

Personal demons, a deep sense of longing for the return of his own father, compelled Luis to stubbornly continue, "A child deserves…" He trailed off when Sheridan's blue eyes flashed at him, with indignation, with renewed fire, with a deep-seeded hurt. Raking an agitated hand through his spiky dark hair, he felt his own passion on the subject recede a little bit. He wasn't spoiling for a fight, not when she looked like one of the walking wounded, and he told her so, in not so many words. "Look, it's not my place."

"It isn't," Sheridan quietly agreed.

Theresa appeared before them, then, shifting the tense moment (shattering it), with her youthful exuberance, "Ethan says you know how to tango." Grabbing her brother's hand in her own and ignoring his groan, she revealed, "So does Luis."

"Theresa," Luis grit out in warning, both at her suggestion and the revelation that she was blatantly disregarding his orders to leave Ethan Crane the hell alone (her crush was already insufferable as it was).

Theresa turned her large dark eyes upon the more sympathetic member of her audience and pleaded, "Dance for us, just once."

Loathe to disappoint the younger girl, but equally loathe to throw fuel on the fire to a building awareness that had no place in her life right now, an attraction she was only just beginning to realize she couldn't fight or deny, Sheridan hedged, "Theresa, I don't know." She cast conflicted blue eyes in Luis's direction, helplessly seeking direction in how to let his sister down easily. Thankfully, he came to her rescue, though his excuse left something to be desired, and launched Sheridan into another, even more awkward position.

"The Tomato Soup Cake's not sitting too well on her stomach."

Theresa's dark eyes rounded with sympathy, but she couldn't help releasing a disheartened little, "Oh."

Wanting a little bit of payback and to ease the girl's disappointment, Sheridan found herself offering, "Maybe something a little slower. What do you think, Supercop?"

"Something slower," Luis acquiesced reluctantly, his dark eyes glaring at her even as his lips stretched into a tightly, uncomfortable smile. Knowing Theresa as he did, he warned her, "But don't you be getting any ideas. Nothing too slow."

Theresa's eyes sparkled as she answered her brother, thoroughly enjoying watching him squirm. "Nothing romantic. Got it."

Sheridan laughed, slipped her hand in Luis's much larger one, and gave it a tug. When he didn't budge, she made him a teasing promise, "I only bite when asked."

Luis's eyes darkened further still and a hint of a smile curled his lips as he let himself be drawn into her silky web. "I'll keep that in mind, Crane." He couldn't help himself; he grinned at her delighted reaction, settled his free hand low on her still-slim waist. He let the music dictate his movements, forgot all about the eyes watching them so intently, soon found himself drowning in Sheridan's rapt blue gaze instead, absorbed into the warmth of her light embrace. Relaxing further in her arms, he leaned his cheek against her soft, fragrant hair, whispered into her ear (steadfastly ignored her answering shiver and its implications for the both of them), "I didn't mean to step on your toes earlier. The life you give your baby is your decision. Not mine."

Sheridan's fingers tightened in the soft cotton of his tee-shirt, and her voice grew low and husky with held-in emotion, so only Luis might hear her. "A child deserves to know a good man in its life." Leaning back so that she might look into, search, his dark eyes, she told Luis, her words rich with meaning, "I think I have that part covered."

"Crane," Luis grasped at the hand that slipped like water through his own. When Sheridan turned back, stared at him for a long, wordless minute, he could settle only for a weak, "The song's not finished."

Sheridan dared him to speak words that were too soon, too much, too everything for two people who barely knew each other, were only learning how to tolerate each other, were at complete odds with what they were supposed to feel for each other, and she smiled when she realized he was fighting it (what they had the potential to become, the possibilities of what they might have been, had there not been bad blood, mistrust, history echoed in his unwavering brown gaze, had there not been a child, still a closely guarded secret in her womb), just as hard as she. "I owe you one, Supercop. Tell Theresa (thank you, sorry, goodbye) for me?"

Luis nodded, not trusting himself to speak in that moment, and watched her slip, unnoticed, through the crowd, through the Youth Center's doors.

He would collect on that promise, many times in many places, over the next several years, committing each and every dance (sexy sambas, seductive tangos, sweet slow dances) with her to memory, but one would stand above all others, one would be his most cherished.

Luis would never forget that first dance as husband and wife, as a family, Emma pressed between them, one little arm wound tightly about his neck (her shimmering skirt draped across his arm), the other resting on her mama's shoulder (Mama, Emma would protest, when the music had stopped and still they swayed, lost in the past, lost in a thousand and one moments of could have been's finally finding peace in the open acceptance of all that they were to each other, would be, the song's finished).

"Patience, Emma-bug," Sheridan smiled in answer, "a new song is just about to start."

3. (~4~)

Title: Fairy Tales and Castles
Rating: G
Warnings: cotton-candy fluff count? Nah? None, then.
Characters/Pairings: pre-Sheridan/Luis, Pilar, one-sided Theresa/Ethan
Summary: prompt: puppy love. They were dealing with one of the most expansive cases of puppy love she'd ever seen, and Theresa, with her wide open heart and head filled with dreams, would be too easily hurt, even with the most innocent of intentions gone wrong.
Author's Notes: I knew what this chapter was going to be about even before I chose the title, and that it was going to feature Theresa and address, in some small way, her crush on Ethan. Theresa, with her crush and all her life goals still intact? Cute. Theresa with Ethan being her sole life goal? Not so much. It didn't hurt that fairy tales and castles were exactly what Sheridan would want to give her own daughter, especially in light of her troubled childhood and the lack of love lavished on her. Still, reality, in my opinion, is better, and I think Sheridan would want to give her child a healthy mix of the two. It only made sense for her to strike out on her own, then, and leave her old lifestyle behind for a new beginning. The song? Is by Lifehouse.

How Emma gets her name…

"My brother," Theresa feigned a loud sigh as she crammed her books into her backpack, struggled to zip it closed, "always such a spoilsport, never has any fun."

Without looking up from his desk, Luis let his voice rise in slight warning, "Theresa."

"Luis," Theresa returned, tucking her heavy hair behind her ears, glanced at Jessica, Kay, and Miguel as they walked by the open office door and waved them off (Whitney had already skipped out early for tennis practice). "It was just a game, Luis. You were the only one who didn't play."

"Checkers is a game, Theresa," Luis finally looked up, met her intent dark eyes. "Monopoly is a game. Picking out a name for Crane's baby…"

"…was just a little something to make her smile," Theresa finished for him (with more maturity than Luis had previously given her credit for).

Of their own volition, Luis's eyes were drawn to Sheridan's lonesome (but not alone) figure, putting away equipment with a couple of the more helpful kids. Every so often, her hand would stray to her back, rub at the protesting muscles there. Luis's own hands tightened into closed fists to quell the sudden, inexplicable urge to ease her discomfort, and the expression on his face softened into resignation (his sister's intentions always started from a place of good, no matter their outcome) as he looked up to Theresa, past the jar containing two dozen or more scraps of folded paper. A smile quirked his mouth as he told her, "I hardly think Sheridan wants to name her baby after a pint-sized vampire slayer or her gang of snarky friends."

Theresa's eyes twinkled at his unwitting admission, "My taste is a little more refined than Kay's, more classic."

Fairy-tale themed or Audrey Hepburn-inspired, if Luis were a betting man, but he didn't say anything, stubbornly refused to give his little sister the satisfaction. Changing the subject, he reminded her, "I thought you had a big test coming up. Shouldn't you be studying for it?"

"Coach Russell's dropping Whitney off at the Book Café after practice." Glancing down at the watch on her slender wrist, Theresa's brown eyes widened slightly. "Speaking of which, I better go before I'm late."

"Theresa," Luis's voice stopped her, just before she was out of his sight. Her hair was a dark waterfall over her shoulder as she leaned around the door, her face lovely and animated, as she waited for him to continue. "Be careful, okay? Call me if it gets late. I'll pick you and Whitney up."

"Thanks, Luis," Theresa beamed. "We've already got it covered. Remember what I said," she said by way of goodbye.

Shaking his head, Luis watched her cross the Youth Center to tell Sheridan goodbye, clearly catching her off-guard when she threw her arms around her in a hug. Still, the soft, radiant smile it brought to Sheridan's face…without thinking, Luis found himself tearing a blue post-it note from the small pad beside his computer and scrawling the first name that came to mind (a name that had visited his dreams often, as Sheridan's belly grew, along with the reality of the child she carried safely within it). He folded the paper up, and, making sure no one was looking, dropped it into the jar.

The name he'd chosen, the name given to the daughter that would come to belong to him in every sense save one was simple, sweet with surrender as it left her mother's mouth (much) later, selected out of gratitude and an unspoken love that was still just a faraway star in twin pairs of blue eyes.

It was his name as much as hers, and each year, when her birthday came around, and Sheridan sugar-coated the drama-filled moments leading to her little girl's birth, she'd remind her of that fact, of how her name had come to be, of how she had come to be…


4. (~7~)

Title: Tidal Wave
Rating: PG
Warnings: slight language, off-screen violence, other character death
Characters/Pairings: pre Sheridan/Luis, mentions of Roger and Pierre, mentions of Sam, original character
Summary: prompt: hero. I won't let anything else bad happen to you, he promised.
Author's Notes: Tidal Wave, which I happen to love because it makes me think of a fanmix I ran across one time for another favorite fictional couple of mine (Sawyer and his Blondie…absolutely), is a song by The Killers. It's enjoyed heavy rotation by me ever since, lol. Anyway, I picked this title for a lot of reasons, some more obvious than others. ;) The setting of this chapter, the intense emotional rollercoaster Sheridan and Luis go through in such a short time, the way Luis is blindsided by his feelings when he holds Emma for the first time. I thought it was rather appropriate, but maybe that's just me.

Luis visits Sheridan and Emma in the hospital, that first time, after…

With a darkening bruise on her cheek, a butterfly bandage just above her brow, Sheridan looked small in the hospital bed, dwarfed beneath its blankets as she slept.

Luis had trouble reconciling the image with the spitfire he rightfully knew her to be, and so he lingered, silently, until a quiet voice startled him into resumed forward movement.

"Chief Bennett took her statement hours ago," Ethan Crane told him, whisper-soft. "She's been sleeping ever since."

Almost against his will, Luis's feet drew him closer to her bed, his hand lifted as if to comb her tousled blond curls back from her forehead (he settled for placing it on her pillow instead), and he sighed, an awkward, halting explanation escaping his mouth (again, against his will). "I'm not here about the case. I just…"

Ethan kindly interrupted him, placed a grateful hand upon his strong shoulder. "I know. Just try not to wake them, okay? I'm going to find Gwen, take her up on that offer of coffee. You'll be here?"

"I'll be here," Luis promised without meeting Ethan's blue eyes (if he had, he might have protested, futilely, what he'd seen staring back at him, but he didn't, so...). He waited for the other man's footsteps to fade away before walking to the other side of the bed and the bassinet he hadn't noticed, before. This time, he wasn't able to stop himself, and as his large hand covered the cap of golden curls, a pair of unfocused blue eyes blinked up at him and a pink bow of a mouth opened in a sweet, dainty excuse of a whimper. Carefully, Luis lifted the warm, wriggling little body from the bassinet, cradled her close to his chest, to the calming beat of his heart, soothed her as he made a likely discovery (she was wet).

"I've never changed a diaper," Sheridan admitted, her blue eyes now very much awake, shadowed with shame as they stared at Luis. "Some mother that makes me."

Luis stilled, hushing Emma with a kiss to her downy head, freed her from the swaddled blanket now hanging loosely from her restless legs. "Never had much use for other's bodily fluids, did you Crane?" he teased with a gentle smirk.

Pushing herself up on her elbows, Sheridan responded to his teasing with a smile that was (thankfully) more chagrined than shamed. "We had nannies for that, Supercop. I think my mother was the last Crane to even know what a diaper looked like."

Luis's teeth gleamed at her, white in the darkness, as his feet carried him closer to her. "It's not rocket science," he said, making short work of the buttons of Emma's pink onesie, revealing the sodden diaper beneath. When Sheridan's smile disappeared, and she drew her bottom lip between her teeth fretfully, he further gentled his handling of her, lowered his voice to a soft, soothing murmur. "I can teach you. There's really nothing to it."

"Luis, you've already done so much already," Sheridan protested, but it was an exceedingly weak objection, one Luis saw right through.

"Prepare to get those manicured hands dirty, Crane," Luis said in forewarning, his eyes twinkling at her but his tone firm as he filled her waiting arms with her daughter, gathered up the necessary supplies to facilitate their first lesson. "Parenthood is a messy business."

They changed Emma's first diaper just like they would later kiss her first skinned knee (just like they would send her off on her first date, many, many years into the future): together.

5. (~21~)

Title: Falling Slowly
Rating: PG, maybe.
Warnings: unresolved sexual tension (lol).
Characters/Pairings: pre-Sheridan/Luis, mentions of Pilar, Paloma, Ethan/Gwen, original character.
Summary: prompt: freak out. She felt so helpless, so utterly useless in the face of her baby daughter's obvious pain, and not for the first time, she wondered if she'd made the right decision, the fair decision, in deciding to bring such a beautiful little soul into the world with little more to offer her than love.
Author's Notes: I don't know you, but I want you…Tell me that doesn't sound like Sheridan and Luis. No, really. Even when I thought the song said want to instead of want you, lol, it always just fit for this story. From a purely superficial standpoint, it just…sounds…so pretty. No matter who sings it. That's my opinion, of course. I think the part I pointed out to you, in particular, really speaks to the place Sheridan and Luis find themselves in at this point of the story. The version of Falling Slowly I drew upon when writing this chapter is by Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. Feel free to look up the original. I'm rather fond of it, too.

The first time Luis sees Sheridan naked…

The door creaked open, and Luis's dark eyes slammed shut at the (beautiful, heart-stopping, forbidden) sight that greeted him. Still, it was too late, much too late.

Not three feet in front of him, Sheridan Crane slept, peacefully, serenely, with her tiny daughter cradled between her breasts. Breasts still full in the wake of pregnancy, skin flushed pink from the warm water, sensitive to the cool air of the room. Long, smooth legs stretched the length of the tub lazily (miles long to Luis's thirsty eyes), and slightly pruned fingers rest on Emma's equally naked skin, spanning the entirety of her small back.

Luis lifted his eyes upward, apologized for the guttural curse he couldn't hold in, and glanced restlessly around the room for something, anything to cover them up, shield them from his guiltily drawn eyes.

Emma was warm, boneless, sound asleep, and she opened her pink mouth in a tiny yawn when he tucked her covers around her, innocent.

Sheridan was just as warm, just as boneless (her damp skin slid against his, soft, like silk, as he rolled up his sleeves, slipped a strong, supportive arm around her back, pulled her in to his body), slept just as soundly as he struggled with one hand to wrap the towel he'd procured around her, lifted her in his arms.

The towel fell from Sheridan's slender shoulders, trailed behind them as Luis stumbled to her bedroom (his mouth against her temple), shoved the covers back, lay her against the pillows. His long fingers strayed to her parted mouth, trembled with every breath released against them, and his eyes had a mind of their own (she had a mole where her ribs ended and the curve of her waist began, an angry red line wrapped around her right hipbone, a half-moon birth mark on the inside of her opposite thigh). He held his breath as she shifted beneath his hands, waited for those blue eyes to open, flash angrily at him, waited, waited, waited, but like her daughter, she didn't waken, merely opened her pretty (sarcastic, siren's) mouth in a yawn, the picture of (pretend) innocence.

Heat like an inferno set Luis's blood to a fever-pitch boil, zipped along his veins as he lowered his mouth, let it hover over hers, but the moment ebbed, the fire banked, reason returned. He tucked the blanket around Sheridan's shoulders like he would a child, checked on Emma one last time, and let himself out of her house, retreated to his own home. Sleep eluded him there, and he rose with the dawn, shrugged on his police uniform, was the first customer waiting in line for Beth's particular brand of strong coffee, black.

The next time Emma had colic, Luis strapped them both securely into his jeep, raced the waves that battered the rocks along Coast Road. Still, sitting there beside her, in the dark, he only had to close his eyes…

Bless the Broken Road—originally by Rascal Flatts, the version I listened to? Carrie Underwood