A/N: Hello, gentle readers. I'm back, as promised. I've had random scenes and bits of dialog lying around for weeks that I'm just starting to be able to knit together. Now, while this story is about Brenda's time in Atlanta, there will be hefty doses of Fritz and other characters will be involved a bit too. And the wonderful Labyrinth beat me to a couple of Atlanta stories, and I hope mine doesn't pale too much in comparison.


Letting Go

Ch. 1 - Departure

The morning sunlight streamed into the bedroom.

Fritz sat down on the bed next to his sleeping wife and watched her for a moment. She looked so peaceful that he hated to wake her, but it had to be done. He leaned down to kiss her cheek. "Sweetheart, you need to get up. You've got to finish packing."

"Mmrphhh... No..." She tried to bury her face in her pillow.

Fritz smiled as he stroked her hair. "Come on, Brenda. Rise and shine."

"Tired."

"You can sleep on the plane."

Brenda slowly pushed herself into a sitting position and rubbed her eyes. "I could have slept last night if you hadn't had other ideas."

"Me?! You're the one who ambushed me when I got out of the shower."

"There was no ambush. I couldn't help it - you were standin' there naked, just lookin' so good."

"So it was spontaneous?"

"Of course."

"Then why were you already naked?"

"I don't recall you havin' any objections."

No, he smiled to himself, he hadn't. None whatsoever. He'd been tired from a long day when he'd gone into the shower, but as soon as he got out and saw her and her beautiful body, he was wide awake. They had wound up making love all night long, finally falling asleep just a couple hours ago. He could still feel the way her body had melted into his. He leaned down and kissed her, then pulled her to him as they both deepened the kiss.

"I thought you said I had to finish packin'," she said as he trailed his lips down her neck.

"We'll get it done. I'll help you…" He slid back under the covers with her.

"I don't think I can pack that"

"Let's see…"


They arrived at the airport for Brenda's flight to Atlanta later than planned, having had to rush to get dressed and finish packing. But the happiness from earlier gave way to a wave of sadness as they entered the airport and the reality of her leaving hit. There was no way Fritz was just going to deposit her on the curb and drive off, so he parked and walked into the terminal with her, holding her hand as she checked her bag and got her boarding pass. Unwilling to let her go just yet, he flashed his badge at security and accompanied her to the gate. It was an abuse of his position, but neither of them cared. This way he could spend almost an extra hour with her. They didn't really talk much, but they maintained physical contact, sitting with their arms around each other, even after the boarding calls started being announced. She stood up to board and looked back at him. He was sure the sadness he saw in her eyes was reflected in his own. They went into each other's arms again and held on tight until the gate agent told them she had to board or miss the flight. Part of her wanted to miss it, but she pulled back from the embrace. "I love you so much," she said as she kissed him.

"I love you, too." He wiped a tear from her cheek.

"Ma'am, you really need to board now."

"I'm comin'".

"Call me when you get to your Dad's."

"I will."

Another kiss, and she disappeared down the jetway.

Fritz went to the window by the gate and watched the plane taxi toward the runway. He waited until it took off and was out of sight before making his way out of the terminal to go home. He felt empty without her, and she'd only just left. He wondered how he'd get through the next weeks.

Brenda fought tears as she boarded and tried desperately not to cry on the plane. She chided herself that she was being ridiculous. It wasn't as if one of them was going off to war or anything - she was just going to see her father. But she hadn't anticipated how hard it would be to leave Fritz, even if it was only for a little while. Fortunately she had a window seat and could turn away a bit from her fellow passengers and try to hide her tears behind the SkyMall catalogue.

As the flight progressed, she tried in vain to get comfortable. Her still healing ribs were a bit sore as a result of the previous night's - and this morning's - "activities". Fritz had tried to be gentle with her, but there had been a bit of desperation in them knowing she was leaving. The oh-so-comfortable airplane seats weren't helping matters. When the flight attendants came by for beverage service, she ordered one of the little bottles of wine. It wasn't good wine, but it would do. And alcohol hit a body harder at 30,000 feet than at ground level, so she knew it would do the trick. And it did. It took the edge of the ache of her ribs and of leaving Fritz and enabled her to doze off for a couple of hours.

Once the flight had landed, Brenda made her way through the hoards of people to the baggage claim to retrieve her luggage and meet her father. She was surprised to see another familiar face.

"Aunt Brenda!"

"Charlie!" Brenda met the girl with a big hug. She was happy to see her niece and that Charlie had driven Clay to pick her up. The Atlanta airport was chaotic, and he'd have hated negotiating the traffic around it.

"That's all right. You two can just ignore me. Just pretend I'm not here."

Brenda released her niece from her embrace and went to hug her father.

"Oh, Daddy. I missed you!"

"I missed you, too, honey."

When he released her, she gave him an appraising look. He looked tired, she worried.

Brenda didn't notice Charlie giving her a similar appraisal. Her aunt looked tired, too. More than tired actually. She was drawn and pale, and something else Charlie couldn't quite put her finger on. But she didn't have time to give it much thought then as Clay began to try to herd them out of the airport and toward home.

Charlie's parents and siblings were waiting for them at the house for a late (for them) dinner. After they'd eaten, they stayed gathered around the table, with the kids eager to tell their aunt what was new in their lives. But after awhile, it became apparent that Brenda wasn't really participating in the conversation.

"You ok, Brenda Leigh? You're awful quiet," Clay inquired.

"I'm just tired is all."

"Travelin' and flyin' always wears me out too. Why don't you go on up to bed. There'll be plenty of time for family in the days ahead."

Brenda bid everyone goodnight, and after a round of hugs and kisses, she made her way upstairs. When she got up to her room, she called Fritz. She had texted him when she landed, but hadn't had a chance to check in after she got to the house. He answered on the first ring.

"Hi honey. You got in ok?"

"Yeah. And I somehow lucked out by not getting a screamin' kid or some guy with bad BO next to me on the plane. And sorry I didn't call you when I got here - Bobby and Joyce were here with the kids."

"That's ok. I figured it was something like that."

She started to say something, but suddenly yawned.

"Aww, worn out?"

"mmm, can't imagine why…"

Fritz chuckled. "I don't recall you having any objections."

She laughed too, as he tossed her words from this morning back at her. Then she yawned again.

"I should let you get ready for bed. Too bad I can't tuck you in."

Oh, she wished he could. "Hold on - I'll put you on speaker."

She quickly got ready for bed while continuing to chat with him and then settled herself under the covers, curled up with the phone.

"Comfy?"

"More or less."

"Do you need a bedtime story?"

She laughed. "Do you have one?"

"Well, I know a great one about a dashing FBI agent and a beautiful and brilliant Southern belle…"

He made up his story as he went along and listened as her laughter got softer as she got sleepier. He wrapped it up with a nice happy ending.

"Goodnight, Brenda. I love you."

"I love you too, Fritzy."

They hung up then, and Brenda, tired from the day, fell asleep almost instantly with Fritz's sweet, silly tale still floating through her mind.

TBC...


A/N

Thanks for reading my little prologue. Unfortunately, I can't promise a steady update schedule. It might be sporadic due to work and family commitments but I'll do my best to keep things moving along.