Andy found the first letter in his desk at work, the second on the pile of paperwork Buzz handed him, and the third letter was folded up and taped to Sharon’s office door. They were all on the same yellow legal paper, folded closed so he couldn’t read the contents without breaking the tape. He didn’t need to open them to know what they said, though.
“Louie,” he hissed, grabbing the older man by the arm as he dragged him out of the murder room. He held the third letter in his hands; they turned the corner just as Sharon walked into her office. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
“Flynn, ye gods, calm down,” Provenza grumbled, yanking his arm away from Andy’s grasp and glaring at him. “What are you talking about?”
Andy waved the letter in front of Provenza, a glare settling on his own features. “What the hell are you doing?” he repeated.
Provenza took a step back and grabbed the letter from Andy, the corner gave a slight rip. “You wanted her to know how you feel, don’t you. It’s been months since the surgery and neither of you have said anything, so I took the initiative with your letter.”
He quickly took the letter back from his partner, his glare etched deeply into his lined face. “This was in case I didn’t make it, not blackmail!”
“You two idiots are gonna dance around the bush for years, Flynn. You need to tell her.” Provenza crossed his arms and glanced into the murder room.
“How many copies did you make? Where are they?” he demanded.
“Ummm. Hm. She might find one soon.” With that, Provenza turned around and returned to his desk, Andy glaring after him.
It took him a moment to start moving and he quickly followed Provenza, the yellow paper crumpled in his hand. He leaned against the desk his partner was sitting at and crushed the letter against the wood.
“I swear to god, if she finds one of your stupid letters—“ he started, but Provenza quickly interrupted him.
“Oh, no. No, no, no. This is your letter. You thought it, you wrote it. Idiot.” Provenza looked up at him and sighed as he reached for his crossword book.
“This isn’t how I wanted her to find out!” He made an attempt to keep his voice down now that they were back in the murder room; Sharon’s door was open and he didn’t want her coming out to investigate.
“Then you should tell her.”
“This is blackmail!”
“Then you shouldn’t have trusted me with the letter or you should talk to her.” He waved his hand dismissively and clicked his pen as he opened to his current puzzle.
Andy stared at him for a moment before he shredded the letter and tossed it into Provenza’s trashcan. “Asshole,” he muttered as he walked to his own desk.
He didn’t know how many copies Provenza had made or where they were, and he could feel his heart palpitating and pulsing quickly. He needed to find the copies, but he didn’t know where to start; it’s not like he could ransack Sharon’s office. He shook his head and leaned back in his seat, his arms crossing over his chest. Provenza definitely had him backed into a corner and he wasn’t happy.
Despite his anxiety, Sharon didn’t appear out of sorts the rest of the day. He didn’t know if there were any letters in her office, but she didn’t seem to have come across one yet. She smiled at him as they gathered up their things for the night, the white board wiped clean of their now finished case and most of the lights turned off.
“Are you ready?” she asked, lifting her purse onto her shoulder as she looked at him, her slight smile lifting her lips.
“Mhmm. Are we still doing dinner?” He made sure he had his badge, gun, wallet, and phone before he nodded and walked over to her.
“As long as you’re okay with ordering in. Chinese?” She sounded apologetic and he smiled.
“Sounds great. Easy and simple.” He laughed just as his eyes spotted a folded up piece of yellow paper resting on the top of her purse. “That looks important. Taylor want something?” He tried to sound nonchalant, but he had a feeling he didn’t even come close.
“Oh, this?” She lifted the paper up and turned it over between her fingers, her head shaking a little. “I haven’t opened it yet. I found it on top of my desk when I went in to grab my purse. I guess I can read it now.”
“No, it’s fine. I didn’t mean to be nosy,” he said quickly, unwilling to imagine what would happen if she read that letter now.
“I’ll have to read it eventually,” she laughed, her nail easily breaking the seal of the tape. She unfolded the letter and Andy knew immediately that it was one of Provenza’s copies.
“Sharon, I need to tell you something.” He swallowed and watched her until she looked up, her brow furrowing.
“What is it?” she asked slowly, her voice growing a little firmer.
“That letter…” He took a deep breath and turned to fully face her, his hands wringing in front of him. “I don’t know where to begin….”
“Is it from you?” she asked after a moment of silence, her eyes slowly moving back and forth behind her glasses.
“Yeah…” he admitted, a sigh slipping from his lips. “I wrote it before my surgery and I told Provenza to give it to you if something happened.” He paused and he saw concern flicker across her expression. It faded after a moment, but not completely.
“But I realized that I still want you to know. Even though I’m alive and well, I want you to know. You deserve to know.” He bit his lip to stop himself from talking.
“Why now?” she asked.
“Provenza nudged me and insinuated that it might be time to let you know.”
“But at work?” Her voice was edging toward the all too familiar Wicked Witch voice and he inwardly cringed.
“Let’s go back to your place and I promise I’ll admit to everything. I’m sorry, Sharon.” He watched her and offered his hand after hesitating.
She returned the letter to her purse and took his hand, her brow slowly evening out. He laced their fingers together and gave her hand a gentle squeeze as he led her toward the elevator.
“This isn’t how I wanted to tell you,” he admitted, “but I think I’ve waited long enough.”
“I want you to wait until we’re home,” she said softly. “Please.” He nodded his understanding and gave her hand another gentle squeeze.
They took their separate cars back to her condo and immediately ordered their dinner so they wouldn’t have to wait long. Sharon removed her heels and blazer, leaving her in just a blouse and her skirt. Andy removed his jacket, tie, and shoes, and they settled on the couch together with a respectable amount of space between them. She held the letter in her hand again and Andy watched her with a myriad of expressions on her face. She just looked focused.
“I want to read it,” she said after several moments. He nodded. “If you’ll let me?”
“It was written for you to read it,” he answered softly. “I’ll be right here.”
He fell silent and watched as her fingers unfolded the letter and gently smoothed out the creases. He could see her eyes scanning back and forth, her expression remaining blank the entire time. He couldn’t help but swallow as the nerves set in, unsure of what she was thinking or how she would react.
Finally, she set the letter down in her lap and tucked her legs up underneath herself. She met his gaze and he swallowed once more, his hands resting idly in his lap.
“Andy,” she murmured, her voice sounding almost choked. “Are you… This is…” She couldn’t seem to find the words and the struggle became more obvious in her eyes.
“Of course I mean it,” he replied, his voice just as soft. He reached to take both of her hands, gently holding them and stroking his thumb across the back of her hand. “I’ve never meant anything more in my life and I love you.”
She swallowed, her eyes shimmering a little. “That’s… It’s… a lot. It’s a big step.” Her voice was softer and he could envision her walls going up again. Just the thought put an uncomfortable feeling in his chest.
“It is,” he hesitantly agreed, “but I need you to know how I feel.”
“I don’t know… It’s a big step,” she repeated, her head shaking a little. “I was so young with Jack and… and look how that turned out.” She looked down, but he reached out and gently tilted her face back up.
“I said we would go at your pace with this relationship and I’m still fine doing that. I don’t… There is no pressure for you to return it or anything, Sharon. As long as you know how I feel.” He swallowed, struggling not to get lost in her watery green eyes.
“That’s not fair to you,” she managed to protest.
“Neither is forcing you to say something you don’t mean,” he countered softly. “But I truly care for you and I’ll do everything in my power not to hurt you.”
“I care for you too. God, I do care about you.” She let out a breath and squeezed his hands, her grip firm.
“Take your time,” he murmured, leaning forward to brush his lips against her cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, either as your boyfriend, your lieutenant, or your friend. As long as you’ll have me.”
“Thank you. And I’m sorry…” She bit her lip and her brow furrowed briefly.
“Don’t apologize,” he said immediately. “I want you to take your time, I want you to be comfortable with this. With us. As long as you’re comfortable and we communicate our feelings, I’m happy.”
A small smile crossed her lips for a moment. “I like you, you know.”
“I like you too.” He kissed her cheek again and stood up when the doorbell rang. “I like you enough to buy dinner.”
This drew a slight laugh from her and she brushed at her tears as he walked to the door. She hadn’t rejected him and that’s what he had feared. He understood her hesitations, what was holding her back, and he wanted to be by her side with whatever she gave him.