... ... ...
1. Flynn and Provenza
Andy realised too late that he should have been suspicious of Provenza's insistence that they meet for breakfast. He had naively assumed that it was simply a much-needed break after their particularly harrowing case. The extent of his mistake came to light when - just after the waitress put their food in front of them - Provenza said, "Now you know that I do not like to talk about this..."
Andy rolled his eyes and dropped his fork back to his plate, suddenly having lost his appetite. He was getting quite fed up of Provenza passing comment on his relationship with Sharon - not least because it reminded him that it was not the relationship that he would like to be having.
"Then don't talk about it," he suggested to his grumbling partner.
"Oh, believe me, I wish I didn't need to."
"You don't need to. You could just leave us to it -"
"Leave you to 'not dating'?"
"Your denial is getting old, Flynn. I am well aware that even you don't believe it."
"It's not denial -"
"Oh, but it is."
"Well, yes, technically it is, but it's true: We are not dating!"
"Does she know that?"
That question surprised him, being an unexpected direction for the conversation to take. "What? Of course she knows that."
Provenza swallowed a mouthful of toast and Andy envied his ability to eat right then. "Have you asked her?"
He couldn't believe he was being asked these questions. "No, I haven't asked her. She told me..."
Provenza's eyebrows and lips quirked in amusement.
"... No! She didn't - ... She was there when we told Nicole the truth."
"When Rusty told Nicole the truth."
"When Sharon and I told Nicole the truth... What is even the point? Why are we having this conversation?"
"Because, unlike our friend Clarissa, I can see the future, at least where this is concerned. And someone is going to get hurt."
"I can take care of myself."
Provenza ignored that. "Do you intend to date the - Sharon in the future?"
Another eye roll. "We are -"
"Flynn, trust me, I didn't initiate this dialogue just to watch you squirm. This time... We've known each other a long time and - much as it pains me - I am trying to help you."
"What's going on?"
"Would you like to date her? Properly. Not just what you're doing now."
"She doesn't -"
"I didn't ask if she wants to date you... If she was amenable to it, would you want to date her?"
"I really don't see what -"
"Flynn! Just answer the goddamn question."
Provenza's bizarre frustration with the fact that Andy wouldn't just tell him the truth was intriguing enough to persuade Andy to trust him. He had an ominous feeling that he might come to regret it.
"You know the answer to that question," he murmured, prodding at the mushrooms on his plate, but not bothering to attempt to eat them. That was the first time he had acknowledged his feelings out loud.
"Finally! Right, well you need to tell her that."
This drew Andy's eyes away from his plate to meet Provenza's in shock. "What?"
"She needs to know."
"I don't think -"
"Oh, I see your plan! I tell her, thus ends our friendship and you can go back to peace of mind."
"If only that would work," his partner responded with an eye roll of his own.
"Then what are you -"
"She was jealous, Flynn... And it was painful to watch."
"Jealous? Of who?"
"Of Clarissa Fields."
"You're absurd, but that's a matter for another time."
"She was not -"
"You and our psychic were pretty close."
"We were working the case."
"You were the first to accept her help."
"I was being welcoming -"
"Like you were the first to accept Raydor when she moved to Major Crimes."
"She's a superior officer."
"Clarissa asked you out."
"Did you go?"
He was about to respond but hesitated when the answer to that question ran through his mind. Too much truth was coming out and he knew it would be impossible to take it back.
"Say it, Flynn."
With a sigh he quietly admitted, "I felt like I'd be betraying Sharon."
Provenza nodded, as if that confirmed some profound theory. "The two of you can't go on like this," he remarked seriously. "She was jealous because there was no reason you shouldn't pursue a relationship with Clarissa, or anyone else who might come along who isn't your boss. And you will never date anyone else because you feel like you're dating Sharon."
As far as Andy was concerned, he was quite content to never date anyone else. He would take whatever kind of relationship Sharon was willing to give. None of the women from his past even came close to her. He doubted he would ever meet anyone else he would want to date. And he doubted that Provenza was that concerned about whether or not he dated, which meant...
"Wait... You're protecting Sharon." It sounded like a statement but his expression implied a question, disbelieving as it was.
"She will be a nightmare if -"
"Louie." Andy softened his voice to implore Provenza to do him the same courtesy of being completely honest.
"You're good for each other," he eventually relented. "She needs someone to make sure she has some fun from time to time, and you..."
He trailed off, squirming a little uncomfortably.
"I what?" Andy prompted, curious.
"You deserve to be happy. You've obviously decided that she is the key to that, so..."
He smiled at his friend. Dating Patrice was working wonders for him. Andy knew better than to dwell on the sentimentality though. "You think I should tell her?"
"You both deserve to know where you stand."
"I thought I did know."
Provenza shrugged. "Maybe I'm wrong. But I've experienced my fair share of jealous women and, though she hides it better than most, she was jealous."
"What if she's not ready to admit it?"
"Then she won't admit it... But then, at least, you'll both know where you stand." The emphasis was on both, acknowledging that Andy was content for things to stay as they were if that was all he could have. But if Sharon did want more and thought Andy didn't...
Andy rubbed a hand over his eyes. "I don't know if I'm ready for that conversation."
"You've been ready for that conversation for months."
"What if you're wrong?"
"It so rarely happens."
"But on the off chance -"
"Then at least you're both old enough that one of you can retire."
Andy's protest was cut off when Provenza continued, "Or I can retire and I'll never have to deal with how awkward it gets!"
"You're not exactly selling the idea."
"Look, you don't need to worry about what will happen when you have the conversation. I would worry about what will happen if you don't. She's been hurt before. Eventually she's going to pull back to protect herself. She may have already started."
Provenza concluded that with a pointed look then switched his attention to his breakfast.
Andy let the conversation replay in his mind as he watched his friend eat. Then he took to wondering if Sharon had, in fact, been jealous. He thought back on their interactions during the case and nothing seemed off. She had been firmly in 'Captain' mode but it was a major case, so there was nothing suspicious about that. In the end he surmised that it came down to whether or not he was prepared to take the chance and possibly get the outcome he had been dreaming about. And whether or not he could trust that Provenza really did have his best interests at heart.
He wasn't going to come to a firm decision on an empty stomach so he sought something lighter to talk about so that he could eat. The first thing that came to mind was still related to the previous topic, but shifted the focus to his partner. He couldn't pass up a chance to tease him.
"So, when I tell Sharon how I feel, I could also mention that you really do like her."
Provenza looked up at him with narrowed eyes. "Now, let's not get carried away."
"I think there's ample evidence that she has grown on you."
"Merely a surface attachment. Whereas her roots have firmly taken a hold in you."
Andy tried a forkful of eggs and Provenza swigged some coffee. They were comfortably silent for a couple of minutes while they ate. During that time, Andy found that his confidence was building and excitement and anticipation was starting to set in. He knew it would probably stay right there when he left the diner, but he decided to enjoy it while it lasted.
"So," Provenza broke the silence, "When you tell her?" he echoed the earlier statement.
It had been only a figure of speech at the time, but now...
He smiled - trying to keep it to a reasonable level and not an out and out grin. "Yeah. When I tell her."
... ... ...
End of part one