Okay! First Closer fanfic! First completed fic in some time, actually. I started this at midnight after watching "Living Proof: Part 2" for the second time, so blame the late hour for any stupid mistakes. I just had the strongest desire not to see these two ending up alone on Christmas! There are high standards out there for Will/Sharon fics so I hope this meets the approval of the shippers!
"Thank you so much for dinner, Willie Rae, it was wonderful," Sharon said warmly as she returned the small woman's surprisingly strong hug.
"Thank you for helping me, Sharon." Willie Rae drawled sweetly, releasing her only to grip the captain's forearms. "You have that container of leftovers to take home?"
Sharon nodded. "Yes, ma'am, and I promise they won't go to waste." Though they will definitely go to my waist, she added in her mind. The southern-style feast had been delicious, but certainly not low fat. Having helped prepare some of it, Sharon had seen just how much butter had gone into it. Willie Rae seemed satisfied and gave Sharon's arms a final squeeze before letting her go.
Sharon turned to Clay next, who immediately grabbed her in bear hug, lifting her onto her toes. "Merry Christmas, darlin', and in case Willie Rae and I don't see you before, happy New Year."
Sharon returned the sentiments and the hug as best she could, squashed as she found herself, before Clay released her. She blinked hard against the tears welling in the corners of her eyes. The Johnsons' warm hospitality was only reminding her of her own parents, whom she was already missing very much. Bidding her farewells hastily to Fritz and Brenda, she collected her coat, purse, and Tupperware container of leftovers and exited the murder room.
The rest of the party had broken up slowly over the last hours. Lieutenant Flynn and Buzz had left right after dinner, hoping to salvage their Christmas plans with their families. As Lieutenant Provenza had predicted, a call had come in not long after dinner requiring Major Crimes' presence at a crime scene. Brenda had immediately reached for her coat to leave, but was dissuaded by her team; Lieutenant Tao and Sergeant Gabriel left with Provenza instead, urging the chief to spend time with her family (as theirs had gone on to their previously scheduled vacations without them). The call had promised to be as standard as could be, and the older Johnsons had lit up as Brenda sat back down, and Fritz had smiled his thanks at the departing men. Detective Sanchez, Dr. Morales, and Commander Taylor had drifted away some time later, back to their homes for their own private celebrations.
Only Sharon and Will Pope had lingered with the Johnson family, enjoying the festivities and company, and helping to clear away the mess. Sharon was surprised how much she had enjoyed herself. Any tension between herself and the usually obstinate deputy chief was muted, as much due to the holiday and the relaxed atmosphere as to Brenda being on her best behavior for the benefit of her parents, Sharon suspected. Clay and Willie Rae Johnson themselves were some of the best people Sharon could recall meeting for a very long time, and she felt genuinely happy to have gotten to join them for Christmas dinner, as well as sorry to leave them. Though, Sharon admitted to herself, not wishing to leave could have to do with what awaited her at home: no one. She lived alone most of the time, with all of her kids away at college, but it was different tonight, knowing that they were all together without her, and especially that she was supposed to have been with them.
Sharon walked as slowly as she could down the hall to the bank of elevators, trying to shrug on her coat while juggling her other burdens. A warm voice halted her actions though and she turned to find Will behind her, wearing his own coat and smiling that smile Sharon had been finding it increasingly difficult to stop thinking about. "Need a hand?"
She thanked him and handed him her jacket, shrugging it on with his help and flipping her hair out from under the collar. "Are you on your way home? Not sticking around savoring the interim chief-ship?" she asked.
Will shook his head and pushed the button summoning the elevator. "As it turns out, it tastes a little bitter. If anyone needs to reach me, they can call my cell. Not that there's much waiting for me at home, but this place actually gets more depressing the closer it gets to midnight."
He was going for self-deprecating humor, but Sharon heard the sadness in his voice, and was surprised at his openness. Thinking she ought to reciprocate, she made a choice as the elevator door slid open and he stepped in. "Chief?" He turned, holding the door for her. "Would you like to get a drink?" His eyebrows raised in obvious surprise. "I don't have anything waiting at home either," she shrugged, stepping into the elevator.
Will returned her sad smile, and pushed the button that would take them to the garage. "Follow me. I know the perfect place."
Their jackets and titles had fallen away almost as soon as they entered the bar. It was warm and cheery, with a handful of revelers and two bartenders who all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Sipping drinks and playing pool—Sharon getting beat handily by Will, though she was sure she was improving—they talked and laughed together more easily than either had expected.
Sharon nearly sank the 8-ball on the opening break—again—but Will grabbed it before it rolled into the pocket, laughing as she threw her hands up and growled in frustration. "I'm starting to think you really aren't bad at pool, you just have really rotten luck," he joked, rolling the ball back onto the table so they could continue the game.
She smiled and balanced her clasped hands on top of her cue. "I'd love to let you think that Will, but I really am just awful. I actually don't get a lot of practice in," she explained with mock sincerity.
Will leaned over the table and lined up his next shot, sinking two striped balls effortlessly and causing Sharon to roll her eyes even as she grinned. "You just don't spend enough time hanging out in bars," he reasoned. He glanced up at her as he measured out his next shot. "I could give you a few pointers if you like." Her responding laugh and the red of her hair in his periphery had him overshooting and bouncing the targeted ball off the cushion.
"How many women have actually fallen for that line, Will?" she teased, eyes sparkling as she stepped up to the table to take her own shot.
He feigned shock as he sipped his scotch. "I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Sharon." She sunk a ball and did a little fist pump that he found ridiculous charming, almost as much so as the bright grin that flashed across her face. "I was just offering my expertise. I spend plenty of time hanging out in bars." Her hair fell across her cheek as she leaned forward again and he found his fingers itching to tuck it back behind her ear.
When she undershot and the cue ball hardly nudged the 5-ball she had been aiming at, she scowled briefly then picked up her gin and tonic. "I highly doubt that, Will. I can't imagine you have much free time to frequent bars." She watched him lean over the table again, almost convincing herself she was observing his form and not simply admiring his body.
He smiled, sinking the 15-ball. "No," he acknowledged. "Not in a long while. But I have a whole set up at home: pinball machine, dart board, and my own pool table." He sunk another shot before looking up at her and adding, eyebrows waggling, "If you ever want a private lesson."
Sharon wanted to laugh, roll her eyes, anything that would stop the blush she felt spread across her cheeks under his bright blue gaze. They stared for a moment then both ducked their heads and chuckled. In a few more shots Will had won again and they retreated to a nearby table. They ordered another round and sipped in companionable silence for a moment until Sharon's phone buzzed with a picture message from her kids, which had her bursting into laughter. She shared it with Will, who slid an arm around the back of her chair and leaned close to see. Soon both were wiping tears from their eyes: her daughters and son, all three college-aged, were wearing matching red and green footed pajamas, standing arm-in-arm and grinning ear-to-ear.
When she caught her breath, Sharon read the attached message explaining that her kids had found the "feeties," as they had called them when they were little, in a souvenir shop in town and couldn't resist.
Will leaned back in his chair but kept his arm in place, still chuckling. "I think you found next year's Raydor family Christmas card."
Sharon was still staring at the picture grinning broadly. "I think you're right."
Will watched her, glad to be to see this softer side of her, so different from the tough as nails exterior she usually showed at work, but no less beautiful. "Why don't you give them a call? Let them know you now have the means to blackmail them relentlessly?"
She shook her head and put the phone back in the pocket of her jacket hanging on the back of her chair. "I tried calling earlier but the snow storm seems to be messing up the service. This message was sent a few hours ago." She turned back toward him, leaning forward unconsciously.
Will let his hand slide off the back of the chair, his fingers brushing her back gently. "I'm sorry you're missing Christmas with your kids."
"Me too," she sighed. "I'm sorry you're missing Christmas with yours. But I'm glad we got to do this." Had she just said that out loud? She blushed, ducking her head away from his gaze.
"Me too," he echoed, and her head snapped back up. His hand was now gently drawing circles on her back and she leaned into the touch. Her soft hair brushed his hand as he moved toward her. "Now I know you're not as perfect as you seem."
"No?" Her voice had gone soft and breathy, lips unintentionally holding the "o" in her question, green eyes finding his mouth.
"You're awful at pool," he murmured before brushing his mouth gently against hers. The kiss was sweet and deepened steadily, though both were well aware of their public surroundings. Sharon rested her hand on Will's knee and pulled her lips away from his with no small amount of reluctance.
"Will," she breathed, watching him through hooded eyes until he opened his own. She smiled brightly at him. "I'll kick your ass at darts."
Will tried to hide his disappointment as he looked around the bar. "I don't think they have darts here."
She squeezed his knee lightly where her hand still rested. "I think you said something about having a board at your place?"
He returned her grin as recognition dawned. They gathered their coats and left the bar hand in hand.