Author's Notes: I wrote this story for the annual Christmas Fanfic Challenge on the Closer Forum, but what it really is is a missing scene from the ep Road Block. Poor Fritz looked so crushed as he watched Brenda talk about his alcoholism in the Interview Room with the Police Commissioner's daughter, and I wonder what he was feeling. Angry? Used? Proud that Brenda was finally understanding the nature of addition? What conversation did he have with Brenda when he saw her at home that evening? Since we never saw it on the show, I filled in the blanks myself. Enjoy.

The Gift of Self

Brenda turned the corner onto her street and smiled when she saw her house lit up for Christmas.

She parked her car in front of her home and cut the engine as she admired Fritz's handiwork. He took decorating for Christmas very seriously, and had placed electric candles in each of the windows of the duplex, with additional tasteful green lights in the large front bay window to accent the candelabras. Fritz had put all the lights on a timer so that they would always go on automatically as soon as it got dark. He told Brenda it cheered him up to see his house all lit up for Christmas at the end of a long day.

Besides the green and white holiday lights casting a slight glow within the apartment, it was dark inside, letting Brenda know Fritz wasn't home yet. She sighed and picked up her purse and got out of her car, feeling somewhat relieved that she didn't have to face him yet. She needed to get her thoughts in order, process the day, think things through, before she saw Fritz. This case with Gail Myers, the alcoholic Police Commissioner's wife, had led dangerously close to very personal waters, and she wasn't sure how Fritz felt about that. She wasn't even sure how she felt about that.

Brenda unlocked the door, and, without turning on any lights made her way over to the Christmas tree, where she felt around the floor with her foot and found the power cord "on" switch with her big toe. The living room was instantly bathed in twinkly white lights that decorated the large Spruce she and Fritz had picked out the week before. Sitting atop the tree was Keith, the beloved angel that was on every Johnson Christmas tree when Brenda was growing up. Brenda's parents had brought it to her last Christmas, and it delighted her to have her favorite Christmas ornament from childhood mixed in with those she and Fritz had collected. Tonight, though, the sight of Keith made her sad. He made her think of her father, and his cancer, and what her poor mother was going through. A pang of guilt washed through her as she thought about how she should be spending Christmas in Atlanta, but then she reminded herself that she and all her brothers were going to be there for her father right after his surgery. Somehow, though, that didn't make her feel all that much better.

Using the ambient glow from all the Christmas lights, she found her way into the kitchen, located an open bottle of Merlot, felt around in the cabinet for a wine glass, and poured herself a generous helping. She retraced her steps just as Joel found her, meowing in his excitement. "Hello baby," she murmured, and Joel dutifully followed her into the living room, jumping into her lap as soon as she sat down. When Joel settled in and made himself comfortable she took a drink of the Merlot and gazed at the Christmas tree, reveling in the rich warmth of the wine as it ran down her throat. Her eyes closed in pleasure, feeling the stress of the day melt away. Suddenly, her eyes popped open, staring at the wine glass as if it had bit her. Oh, the irony, she thought, setting the glass down on the coffee table and glaring at it. I spend two days unraveling the lies of an alcoholic who killed a young girl and here I am, celebrating by drinking. She shook her head slowly as her thoughts drifted to her husband.

Fritz. As usual, he had been a huge help with her case, but this time it had hit close to home. She thought back to the previous night when he reminded her, as he held her in bed, that it wasn't all that long ago that he could have hit and killed someone while driving drunk. The thought of her sweet Fritzy ever doing something so horrible was…unthinkable. And yet she did think about it. And she did more than just think. She used Fritz's story when she was convincing Kelly, Gail Myer's daughter, to give up her mother:

"I'm married to a recovering alcoholic, and he'd be the first to say that addicts are great at making the rest of us feel responsible for their mistakes…

he tells me al the time that he's just one drink away from losing it all, and he needs help staying sober…"

Kelly had looked at Brenda with the kind of hungry hope people have when they find someone who understands, who knows. And Brenda genuinely felt very sorry for her, and was glad she could bring her some small comfort, to let her know she wasn't alone. But she knew Fritz was in the Electronics Room watching the interview, and she had no idea if he felt humiliated by what she said to Kelly, seeing that he was surrounded by her people, not to mention his rival Will Pope. Her squad knew he was an alcoholic, but Brenda was worried she had said too much, got too personal, exploited Fritz's problem for the sake of a confession. And that was cause for Fritz to be very, very angry with her.

Brenda had learned so much about substance abuse over the past year, ever since her poor understanding of the manipulative behavior of users almost cost her a case, and perhaps a young girl's life. Fritz had to be called in to explain the nature of addiction, and as much as she fought the notion that she, the top-notch interrogator, needed to be taught anything, Brenda had to admit she had been going about things all wrong. And Fritz took that opportunity, that moment of weakness, to force her to listen to all the things in his past she never wanted to hear about. She rubbed her tired eyes and thought about how much she preferred denial, because it was so much easier. The night they stayed up and to talk things over and he revealed his history to her was one of the longest nights of her life, and that was saying something. When he laid it all out for her—the blackouts, ruined relationships, bungled cases at work, car accidents—it was almost impossible to reconcile those stories with the caring, patient, compassionate man she was married to. And despite the discordance she struggled with, his disclosure, his willingness to open his emotional closet and show her the darkest things that lurked there, it made her love him even more. Brenda realized how much courage it took Fritz to change his life from what he once was to the man he is now, and his strength moved her beyond belief.

Since that night Brenda continued to ask questions about alcohol abuse, and Fritz was more than happy to answer. The depth of her ignorance shocked her; she looked back and can't believe she actually wanted to attend an AA meeting to circulate a sketch of a possible suspect. She cringed at her own stupidity, but at the time Flynn had just been badly beaten up and she was desperate to find the perp. She would never make such an insensitive mistake again, and she no longer hid from Fritz's alcoholism. Fritz even told her he felt so much more at peace with his recovery now that she knew about his past and loved him despite of it. He had one important request of her, though: he really wanted Brenda to attend an AA meeting with him.

And she couldn't do it.

Brenda shifted and reached for her glass, forcing an unhappy Joel move out of her lap. Screw the irony, she thought, as she took another long sip. Fritz's wish to have her come to a meeting, and her refusal, was like an unhealed sore on her conscious. She knew Fritz was confident that she would come around someday, for his sake, and Brenda felt pretty sure she wouldn't. And that had her convinced she was a terrible person, because in the grand scheme of things, Fritz didn't ask for very much. Especially compared to her.

Brenda got up and walked over to the Christmas tree, plopping herself down in front of it. She started rifling through the presents, shaking each one with her name on it, playing the game of guessing what each box contained. She was particularly interested in the small thick square box which tinkled quietly when she shook it. Hmm, earrings or necklace, she thought absently, as her mind drifted back to her guilt over the AA meeting.

She told Fritz she just wasn't ready. When she pressed her, she couldn't really say why, she just kept saying someday soon, yes, I will, give me time…her usual stall tactics that almost always work. The truth was…well, she wasn't sure she liked the truth, but there it was. She was a very, very private person, that the only person who she ever told intimate details of her life to was Fritz and that was only after years of him prodding, and the idea of being in a room full of people freely spilling their guts made her a bit queasy. Sure, she was used to people confessing all the time, but only when she dragged it out of them. To stand up, by your own free will, admit you are an alcoholic, and share your deep darks to complete strangers… even though she wouldn't have to talk, that type of honesty would give her a case of the hives.

And there was something else, something dark and ugly that hid under a rock deep inside her that she never wanted to see the light of day. She could barely think it, let alone ever say it. But it was there, and the thought came unbidden on the occasions when Fritz brought up the whole "please attend a meeting and see that side of my life" thing again, and Brenda quickly shoved it back from the sickness in her psyche in which it came. She had grown enough as a person to be able to say Fritz was an alcoholic, she could even say she was married to an alcoholic in an interview to get the information she needed. But to be at an AA meeting, and to give her name and say she was Fritz's wife, and perhaps have to listen to Fritz's talk publically about the troubled times in his life—it would all be so very real. She didn't want Fritz to be a drunk. She wanted her handsome, sexy FBI man to be perfect, not have this huge problem that was really their problem. She didn't want to admit in public that she was Fritz's support system, that she was his partner in sobriety. The responsibility was overwhelming, and to say that at a meeting…it was all too much. And god, she was a horrible person for feeling this way.

Her self-flagellation was interrupted by the sound of keys at the front door. Joel launched himself off the couch and toward the door so that he was rubbing against Fritz's legs as soon as he crossed the threshold. Fritz put down his briefcase and squinted in the dark apartment; as he reached out for the overhead switch, Brenda said softly, "don't."

Fritz pulled his hand away from the wall and put it on his chest. "Christ Brenda, you scared me half to death. Where are you and why is the apartment completely dark?"

"I'm sittin' right here in front of the tree and I'm enjoyin' it lookin' all Christmassy in here, so keep it the way it is an come join me," she answered.

Fritz made his way over to her, sitting in the couch she had just vacated. He raised his eyebrows when he saw her cross-legged on the floor with a Christmas present in her hand.

"Spending some quality time with Keith? Or shaking all your presents?"

"Can't I do both at once?"

"Hey, put down that box, will you? I'd like there to be some surprises on Christmas morning." Brenda stuck out her lower lip but did as he asked. Fritz patted the seat on the couch next to him. "Join me?" he said.

Brenda got up and walked over slowly. He doesn't seem mad, she thought. But sometimes Fritz started off all nice and quiet and just when she thought she was out of the woods and had gotten away with whatever she was trying to get away with, his deadly quiet veneer would crack and he would explode. She sat down cautiously next to him, not quite touching, but close enough so she could feel his body heat. She didn't want to look at him, not yet. She was a coward, but she wasn't ready to know what she might find in his beautiful brown eyes.

They sat in silence for several minutes, Brenda folding and unfolding her hands nervously while she counted Fritz's slow breaths as a way to try to calm herself, until he finally broke the silence. "You know," he said, turning sideways so he was half facing her, "you think you are the only one in the family with keen observation skills. But I have made it my job over the past several years to study you, honey, and right now I can tell you are upset about something. " He reached over and tilted her chin up so she was forced to look at him. "And it has to do with me. Am I right?"

Brenda looked up into his handsome face and nodded. He didn't seem angry, but still, she proceeded with caution. She took Fritz's hand off her chin and held it in her own.

"I, I guess you were in the Electronics Room when I was interviewin' Kelly Myers today," she said quietly, looking at him for confirmation, his small nod giving it to her, his expression unreadable. "Okay, so you heard me talkin' about you then." Another nod, this time accompanied with a shadow over Fritz's face, his features darkening. Brenda immediately went on alert. "And I don't know, well, if you are angry at me or not, revealin' that much of your personal life in an interview."

Fritz said nothing, just looked at her with knitted brows.

As usual, whenever Brenda didn't know what to say during a personal conversation, but she knew she was expected to say something, she went into babble mode. "Well, see, I wanted that poor girl to understand, you know, that I knew, I mean, not what she was goin' through, cuz you aren't drinkin' and never have since we've been together, but that I knew her mom was playin' her, you taught me that, about that blame and all, and I didn't want her to blame herself, but here I was, goin on about you…" the less sense she made, the more she flapped her hands.

Fritz finally put his hand over her mouth and said, "shhh, Brenda. Just stop for a second, okay?" She nodded. "Now take a deep breath." Brenda frowned, reached up, and peeled off Fritz's hand. "That's a little hard to do with you coverin' my airway, Einstein," she said sarcastically.

"Okay then, if you stop rambling, I won't need to cut off your air supply," he retorted, the corner of his lips curling upward.

"Sorry, sorry," she waved her hand in front of her face. "You know how bad I am at this stuff. I've just been worried all day that you might be mad at me for what I said, and I don't want you to be mad at me, Fritzy, you know how much I hate that." Her throat closed a little, and she hoped that he could tell that she was being sincere: she did hate when she made him mad. That just never seemed to stop her from doing it all the time.

Fritz looked tired as he sunk back on the couch, rubbing his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. "I don't know, Brenda," he said softly. "I guess I am kind of upset. It was hard to hear you talk about my alcoholism when I was surrounded by a bunch of your co-workers, people who are my colleagues too. It was hard not to feel ashamed. I admit I wanted to run out of there and hide. As you know, I have always struggled about being forthcoming about my drinking." He looked down at Brenda, who nodded, remembering the biggest fight of their relationship when Brenda accidently stumbled over a past Fritz had tried very hard to hide. "I've gotten much better at being open about it over the past few years, and your squad knows I'm in recovery, but still, it's just…hard. I hate that people see me that way. As a drunk."

"Fritz, people don't see you that way. Bein' in AA is only one part of who you are, honey." Brenda couldn't stand to see the pain in his eyes.

"But it's a big part. Anyways, today was hard, but I need to get over the shame thing. On the other hand, what you said about me being the most wonderful man you know, well, you've told me that many times before, when you have tried to wrap your head around the terrible things I did when I drank compared to who I am now, but I don't get tired of hearing it. I never thought anyone would think I was a decent guy, let alone the woman I've been chasing for over 10 years." He put his arm around her. "But I only had a second to bask in that glow, because the next ones that came out of your mouth were the ones that are the hardest to hear, because they are the truth." He kissed her head and buried his face in her hair.

Brenda scrunched up her face the way she did when she was concentrating. "I can't remember what I said next…"

"You told Kelly I was one drink away from losing everything," Fritz replied, bitterness in his voice. "and that I needed help staying sober."

"Oh," Brenda breathed. "I really shouldn't have said that, Fritzy, that was so private. Honey, I'm so sorry, I just get carried away sometimes."

He cut her off. "It's okay, really. It's just that, well, hearing you say the words I've said to you before was hard. It was like having a bucket of ice water thrown in my face. I mean, I can say that to you, but to watch you say them, the way you said them, it just…"

Fritz stopped and looked away.

"Honey?" Brenda gently prodded him. He was staring with unfocused eyes at the lights on the tree, and it seemed like his thoughts were a million miles away.

After a few moments of silence, he turned back to her. "Let me see if I can explain this. I know what I stand to lose if I start drinking, and that is you. Nothing in the world is more important to me than you, Brenda. I love you so much it hurts sometimes. And when I feel like a drink, when I feel that pull toward the bottle, I just picture your beautiful face and it helps me hold on. So to see you say what I know is true, that I'm one drink away from being like that woman Gail and losing everything I've worked so hard to build, and the most precious thing in my life is saying this harsh truth, well, it just really hit me in the gut. I had to call my sponsor afterwards and talk about it, and he said it was probably the best thing you could have done for me."

"Oh Fritz, I'm so sorry," she said, losing the battle with the tears she was fighting back. "You love me so much and I always seem to be a source of pain to you." She sniffed and sloppily wiped the back of her hand across her face.

"Brenda, weren't you listening?" Fritz said. "It was hard to watch you say what you did, but it was also good. Tough things can be good things too, you know that. Especially in AA, because sometimes hard lessons are the best ones for helping us stay sober." He reached down and wiped a stray tear off her cheek.

She smiled weakly. "So I really do help? You know, like I told Kelly, I really do help you stay sober? Cuz sometimes, well, I don't feel like I do all that much except drive you a little crazy."

"You drive me a lot crazy," he deadpanned. "And you help, like I said, by believing in me, believing that I'm a good person and a good husband, and I want to always be that for you. Being with you makes me want to stay sober, to be a better person." He paused. "But I do wish you would show some interest in my AA life, Brenda. You may think that my being an alcoholic is only one facet of who I am, but it doesn't feel that small to me. AA is a huge part of my life, and it feels strange that you know nothing about it."

Brenda looked away, shame snaking though her stomach. "You want me to come to a meeting with you."

Fritz nodded. "I've asked you several times, and all I get are noncommittal answers. I know when you don't want to do something, Brenda, you do that mumble and walk away thing of yours."

He called her bluff, and Brenda couldn't think of a single thing to say. She certainly wasn't going to tell him the vile truth, the one she couldn't admit to herself, so she said nothing.

"Brenda, what are you so afraid of?" Fritz asked finally.

She looked at him in shock, than turned away, afraid he would see in her eyes what a horrible person she was. How did he know she was afraid of anything? She was sure she kept these things under very tight lock and key, so how did Fritz figure them out? It frightened her sometimes that he knew her so well that he could discover bits of herself she buried deep in crevices in her soul. One spelunked cave too many, she worried constantly, and he will find something awful about me that will make him want to leave. She turned away from that thought and faced the present bit of darkness.

"What do you mean?" she said, trying to sound casual. "I'm not afraid. "I'm just…busy is all."

"Bull," Fritz answered softly. "I know when you are afraid of something, Brenda, and don't want to admit it. I'm pretty sure I know what it is, but I want to hear it from you. You think you can hide everything from me, that I don't really know you, but you're wrong. I know that scares you, but that's what intimacy is. I can figure things out about you on my own, but marriage is about being open and honest with each other. So stop playing games and tell me why you are so afraid of going to an AA meeting with me." His voice rose at the end, and Brenda could tell he was starting to get impatient with her.

She knew he was right, and she also knew she had come a long way since they first started dating. She was much better at opening up and telling Fritz things she though she would never tell another living soul. But she still kept a lot of secrets in those nooks and crannies, and feelings, well, they weren't exactly her favorite topic of conversation. Especially when sharing her feelings risked hurting Fritz's, like they did now. She hurt him enough by accident; being honest and telling him something cutting on purpose seems unnecessary. But there he was, looking at her expectantly, one eyebrow raised and a slightly annoyed expression on his face, just asking for a heaping dose of the truth. What will he think of me if I tell him, she thought, when he just finished letting me know how proud he is that I believe he's a good person. Is he going to think I'm a good person once he learns how petty I really am?

She looked up at Keith for inspiration and took a deep breath. "You just got done tellin' me that today was hard because hearin' me speak the truth about our lives, about how fragile sobriety really is, how these words comin' from my mouth made it seem so much more real. And I get that, I do. Cuz I think sittin' in a room full of strangers, watchin' you stand up and call yourself an alcoholic, and then me introducin' myself as your wife, well, that's gonna make it real to me in a way that's overwhelmin.' I'm not a 'spill my guts' kinda woman to begin with, Fritz, so that's hard. But to see you there, to hear you share your personal story, well, there it is, my life, our lives, laid out for everyone to see, and there's no room for denyin' anything. You are an alcoholic, and I do have to help you stay sober. And that scares the living daylights out of me.

One thing I don't have in common with Kelly, and I thank god for this, is that I have never seen you drunk. You drank in DC, sure, but I had no idea it was a problem because you hid it well. Since we've been datin,' you've been sober, and been this wonderful, amazin' person I love so much. It's easy to think of the drinkin' in an abstract way, you know? It's somethin' you talk about, I know you go to meetin's, but I've never seen it. Going to one of those meetin's with you would make it real, a concrete thing, and I guess maybe I'm not ready to handle that yet." She couldn't look at Fritz when she spoke, afraid of the disappointment she would written on his face.

Fritz was quiet for so long Brenda finally looked at him. He had his eyes closed and his head in his hands. He looked so broken, Brenda thought, did I do that to him?

"Fritzy?" she whispered tentatively.

"I'm sorry, I just drifted off somewhere dark. It was just my second rude awakening of the day, and that's a lot." Brenda looked at him in confusion. "I know I live in fear of being an active drunk again, I think of it every day and like I said, you seeing me that way is one of the things that motivates me to stay sober. But to hear you say the same thing, that falling off the wagon is something that is almost too horrible for you to think about…" he drifted off for a minute and resumed staring at the Christmas tree. "I never thought that this wasn't all real for you because you've never seen me drunk, and god willing, never will. I wish I could let you live in that bubble of denial, honey. I wish that more than anything." He reached out and stroked her cheek. "Making you face the truth of how hard all of this is, how challenging your life is being married to an alcoholic, makes me feel like an ass. You have this incredibly gut-wrenching job, and by you choosing to be with me I've laid all this extra baggage at your feet, more things you need to worry about, like what's gonna happen if I fall off the wagon. Who knows, maybe it wasn't that you shooting that guy the day before the Mayor's decision, maybe it was my being an alcoholic that prevented you from getting the Chief of Police job last year." His voice was thick and heavy. He turned and looked at the presents under the tree. "Brenda, you don't know how much I wish I could wrap up a nice package of denial for you, and a beautiful present of sobriety for me, and put it under the tree for Christmas morning. And then we would be assured our happily ever after."

"But this isn't a fairy tale, is it?" Brenda said sadly.

"Not even close," Fritz said. "If it was, you would be riding off with Prince charming into the sunset, not the wife of an alcoholic."

Damn, how does he always know my fears, Brenda thought. Drives me crazy. She knelt in front of him and took his good-looking face into both of her hands, stroking his cheeks with her thumbs. "Hey, in my fairy tale, I'm nobody's damsel in distress, I'm not ridin' off into the sunset because I'm queen and I got a kingdom to rule, and I rather be in a little sports car than on a horse that's gonna make my bum sore the next day." Fritz smiled. "I always hated fairy tales, all those helpless women waitin' around for some prince to come and rescue them. I wanted to know why they couldn't get off their keesters and take care of things themselves." She remembered an exasperated Willie Rae telling her bedtime stories as a child and Brenda getting riled up instead of lulled to sleep over the passivity of the supposed heroines of the story. "So we will make our own happily ever after, Fritz Howard, and I don't care if it doesn't look like what people think it's supposed to look like. Prince Charmin' was a wuss anyways."

Fritz took one of her hands off his face and kissed her palm slowly as he chuckled. "That's so my girl," he said.

"This princess isn't done sayin' her piece," she said. "I have my handsome prince, well, FBI agent, which is loads better in my book, because what do princes do anyways? And we love each other and we drive each other crazy and we fight and we have great make up sex and through it all our love gets even stronger. That's good enough for me. That's more than good. That's wonderful, and it's much, much more than I ever dreamed I would have, and I have it with a man I think the world of." She retrieved her hand from Fritz's and put it back on his cheek. "And if this princess—oh wait, I gave myself a promotion awhile back and I'm a queen—and if this queen has a little problem with denial, well, maybe she needs some help workin' on it. She needs her prince, er, FBI agent, as much as she hates to admit she needs anyone."

"You know Brenda, I think this analogy has run it's course."

She bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Yea, okay, but I really liked the idea of being Queen Brenda though. Do you think maybe you could call—"

"Forget it."

"Thought I'd try," she mumbled to herself. She let go of his face and sat down on her haunches, her eyes drawn once again to the presents under the tree. She was awful, she knew. Even in the middle of an intense discussion she couldn't help but wonder what was in the boxes. There was a big on in the back, the size of a small appliance, several that looked like they held clothes, and the small one Fritz caught her shaking. Brenda had an innate sense of what a Tiffany box felt like, and even though it was wrapped in brightly colored paper, she could sense the light blue hue of the box below. I wonder what he got me at Tiffany? she mused. She hadn't gotten him anything nearly as nice. Some baseball paraphernalia, a new Dodgers sweatshirt and matching ballcap, a couple of the shirts he likes… nothing close to being worthy of a present from Tiffany.

It was like a light went on over her head, like they show in the comics. The perfect gift for Fritz. Could she do it? Was she brave enough? He certainly deserved to receive it, but did she have the ability to give it?

Before she changed her mind, or the sea of denial she swam in most of the time produced a wave and swept away her shred of courage, she said to Fritz, the words tumbling over each other, "I'll do it. I'll go with you."

He looked perplexed, and she knew she probably sounded like she tried to talk through a mouthful of taffy. "Huh?"

"I'll go, Fritz. To an AA meeting. With you. For Christmas. I mean, as a Christmas present to you. I can't wrap it or anything, and it's a few days early, but…"

She was cut off by Fritz taking her by the upper arms and pulling her toward him against his chest and kissing her, picking her up and placing her on his lap. When he pulled back, he looked at her seriously.

"Honey, are you sure? Are you ready? You just got done telling me why the idea of going to a meeting is so hard for you. Is this some misplaced Christmas spirit you are feeling? I want you to be sure."

"Honestly, it's because I think you got me some jewelry from Tiffany," she said, and Fritz smacked her on the butt, making her giggle.

"You are a spoiled brat, you know that?." He leaned over, kissing her head. "But seriously…"

"Seriously, you know me well enough to know I'll put something off forever unless I'm pushed. And as hard as this is gonna be, I do need to get over my denial thing and come to terms with your alcoholism so I can really be a help to you stayin' sober, and not just give lip service when I'm in an interview room," she sighed. "It scares the livin' daylights outta me, to be honest, but what was it that you just said? That sometimes the most painful things you go through are the best lessons of them all? And you will be there with me, and despite all the stuff you have told me about your past, and as strange as it will be to see you in an AA meeting, you are still my sweet Fritzy. Nothing is ever gonna change that."

Fritz gave her a look of such adoration that it almost took Brenda's breath away. "The present of your presence," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better gift for Christmas. This means so much to me." He buried his face in her neck, and Brenda closed her eyes at the pleasure of his warm mouth against her skin. Fritz leaned her back onto the couch and slowly climbed on top of her, kissing down her neck and along her jawline until he got to her mouth. For the next hour he slowly and thoroughly thanked her properly, the only witness being Keith, who ruled silently from atop his twinkling spruce throne as he watched over his beloved queen and her prince.


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