Hi, everyone! This is just a little blurb I regurgitated. Again, thank you for your continued support. You're all phenomenal!

No beta, so all mistakes are mine.


The night before Sharon Raydor took over Major Crimes, she hardly slept. Usually, a couple glasses of wine unleashed a fairly pliable and drowsy Sharon. That night, however, she kicked at her uncomfortably warm sheets, and fought off a pounding headache and dizzying nausea. The thought of swooping in so soon after Brenda's fall from grace, in particular, was nauseating enough without the alcohol in her system. The promotion felt… dirty. Pope couldn't convince Brenda to toe the line, so he let Brenda fall on her sword and ushered Sharon in to "restructure" Major Crimes. Sharon knew that Brenda didn't make her decision to step down for Pope's benefit—Brenda finally recognized the necessity of learning how to appreciate the people in her life—but Pope undoubtedly thought it was all for him. What an insufferable, selfish man, benefitting from the downfall of a powerful woman.

As infuriating as her resignation turned out to be, Brenda left quite a few messes for Sharon in the Major Crimes Division. Nobody wanted Brenda to be… ended this way (except, perhaps, Chief Pope). After watching their fearless leader defeated by men like Phillip Stroh and Peter Goldman, who Sharon could only hope would be brought to justice, Brenda's team—no, her team—was grieving. Not only would they resent someone replacing Brenda after a week of Provenza's leadership, but they hated Sharon's guts and her rules.

Even without the horrible timing and circumstances, the Major Crimes Division, despite Sharon's mutually irksome monitoring over the past several months, still resented their duty to adhere to regulations. In theory, they knew the consequences of defiance (though Brenda remained the only person in that squad who actually suffered from her defiance), but they didn't understand why it mattered. Now, with their fresh wounds and hot tempers, the squad preferred to focus on arresting the dirtbags and nailing them to the wall. And, once again, it fell to Sharon to coax them off the edge of mayhem, to teach them how to properly follow the laws they swore to uphold.

Sharon huffed and punched the empty pillow next to her. She should be celebrating this promotion, not drowning her convictions and anxiety in Chardonnay, alone. Of course, if Gavin knew, he'd have taken her out for vodka and strippers, which didn't sound like her idea of a celebration either. At the very least, anticipation should be her most prominent emotion, not the most overpowered. As much as she appreciated what her time in FID did for her career, leading the LAPD's most elite group of detectives was a hell of a promotion for the Wicked Witch of FID. (Flynn and Provenza either thought they were sneaky, or they just didn't care if she knew.)

Rolling onto her back, Sharon rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms. The most frustrating part of this whole mess was that she knew she had to be patient with them. No matter how impossible, insolent, and infuriating every one of them was bound to be, she knew they would be waiting for her to slip up, to stomp into her office and slam the door. She knew those men were hurting, but she would not allow her sympathy for their situation to serve as an invitation to trample her authority, to take advantage of her concern. Balance. That's what they needed. That's what they'd always lacked.

Eventually, after she exhausted all possible the worst case scenarios for her first day, her brain shut down for a couple hours of fitful slumber. Her subconscious tortured her with nightmares about more lawsuits, ding dongs, bobble heads, and toothpicks, so her eyes were already wide open when she slapped at her alarm clock.

Sharon did not go into the office until Chief Taylor called her. As much as she detested being summoned, she preferred that to wandering around the PAB with nowhere to go and nothing to do. She had quietly packed up her office in FID the previous Friday, hauling the boxes home for the weekend (made much easier by Agent Howard and the dolly he was returning), but she could hardly waltz into Major Crimes and claim Brenda's office while the squad either investigated a crime scene or watched the absolute horror of her usurpation unfold from the bullpen.

After a couple of bouts with more unsettling thoughts, Sharon decided to use the extra time to indulge in a morning swim, hoping for an outlet for her restlessness. As usual, the water did not fail her. For exactly forty-seven minutes, Sharon focused on her breathing, her technique, and her speed. She timed herself, concentrated on numbers instead of all the reasons this promotion could be a disaster. As she toweled her hair dry on the way to the elevators, she made a mental note to swim the next time Major Crimes drove her to insomnia.

By 9:30 a.m., Sharon, impeccably dressed in her favorite Armani pantsuit and blue silk blouse, passed the time by pacing the kitchen with her third cup of coffee. Flicking through her closet like a thirteen-year-old for twenty minutes did not bolster her confidence. Her job, of course, did not require impressing Brenda's boys with her superior wardrobe, but her indecisiveness had less to do with how she looked and more to do with the vibe she emitted. Red was too aggressive, white too saintly, purple too casual, beige too neutral. Blue was authoritative, democratic. Sharon was hard-pressed to find a word that opposed Brenda's leadership style so completely as "democratic."

For the last week, Sharon had been pondering the difference between being qualified for the job and knowing the job. Unlike Brenda, Sharon did not have CIA-training or homicide investigation experience. Therefore, also unlike Brenda, Sharon acknowledged that she needed each member of her division. Brenda always struggled to delegate, but Sharon definitely saw the appeal in Brenda's aversion. How much easier would it be to control an investigation, to ensure that everything ran smoothly with minimal mistakes, if you did everything yourself? Easier, yes. Easier to lose perspective, as she'd helplessly watched Brenda do.

Sharon jumped when her cell phone rang and vibrated in her left hand. Her initial knee-jerk reaction sloshed searing coffee out of her mug, scalding her hand and prompting another knee-jerk reaction that ended with half the remaining coffee dribbling off her blouse and blazing down her chest. Only after she'd spewed a string of profanities did she answer her phone.

"Good morning, Chief." Sharon hoped Taylor couldn't hear her vocal strain from steadying her voice. She dropped the offending mug in the sink, ignoring the sound of cracking ceramic. Wrenching a few paper towels free, though knowing nothing could save the blouse, Sharon dabbed desperately at the streams of coffee that burned her breasts and stomach. So much for the democratic look.

"I'm sorry, Chief could you repeat that?" Sharon asked, yanking her blazer off as she rushed down the hallway to her bedroom. She could barely hear him over the din of the crime scene that, unless her ears deceived her, had already been taken over by Lieutenant Provenza.

"I said Major Crimes is rolling out to an undercover operation gone bad," Taylor said, his voice carrying more gravity his title afforded him. "Two robbers dead, two escaped, and one in custody."

Sharon tossed the untarnished blazer on her bed, pressed a few buttons to put her phone on speaker, and began to peel the stained silk from her body. "I wasn't aware that Major Crimes was conducting an undercover operation," she said, this time fighting to keep her resentment at bay instead of her waning pain.

"They aren't, Captain," Taylor snapped, without bothering to hide his contempt. "This was somebody else's screw up before the stakes were so high. Miller's case—been going on for months."

Rolling her eyes, Sharon snatched her phone and rushed into the bathroom to wipe off her chest more thoroughly. The one time she put extra sugar in her coffee…

"Captain, you there?"

Catching sight of her cleavage in the mirror, Sharon cringed at the thought of being half naked on the phone with Russell Taylor. "Yes, Chief. Send me the address, and I will meet you at the crime scene," she said. Once Taylor hung up, Sharon snatched a washcloth from her towel rack and dampened it, wincing at the irritated skin on her chest.

Guess I'm going with the damn beige.

Much to her dismay, the address Chief Taylor sent Sharon belonged to a grocery store at least thirty minutes from the condo. Provenza would be foaming at the mouth when he realized that not only was she taking over his division, but she couldn't bother to be on time. Sharon changed her bra, punched her arms through the holes in her dress, tightened her belt, and scooped up her blazer before powerwalking down the hall, pausing at the hall table to stuff her gun and badge in her purse and dig her keys out of the bowl. The doorknob's static shock to her fingertips prompted her to slump against the door with a frustrated groan. To take a breath. Remember how she felt to see the encouraging texts from her kids that morning. Remind herself that she earned this promotion, despite the complications and controversy. Take another breath. Stand by her conviction that her detectives did not have to like her, only respect her. Hear her father's voice in her head, telling her that confidence would always be her friend when she had none. One last breath. Go.