Rated: PG, for vague references to Rusty's past.
Summary: Rusty's been having a bad day, but Andrea might know something that'll help him cope. Sharon/Andrea.
Disclaimer: TNT's & James Duff's. Not mine. Never was, never will be. If it was, a certain blonde DDA would be featured in plenty more episodes.
A/N: Takes place in the same fic universe as my other Major Crimes fics, and follows them, and though it's not necessary to read them to understand this one, you might get more out of this if you do. Also, this is probably the most personal fic I've ever written, so this is a special one. And, as always, a huge thanks to my beta reader, lysachan. 3
It was a Saturday night, around midnight, when Sharon watched the last of the credits roll before reaching for the remote and switching the TV off. She, then, glanced at Rusty before turning her head to meet Andrea's gaze – Andrea, who had, during the course of the movie, slowly inched closer and closer. Sharon smiled; the change in their relationship was still new, and it was only the second time the younger woman was staying over during the weekend.
It was only two weeks ago when, at the end of another movie night, Andrea was starting to make noises about going home. Rusty had rolled his eyes, asking why the women were trying to hide the fact that they were becoming more than friends, or, at least, wanted to become such. Both, Sharon and Andrea, had been left speechless, but Rusty hadn't stopped there; he'd informed them that he knew they, and Sharon especially, were worried how he'd feel about the women having a closer relationship. He'd gone on stating that it wasn't really his business anyway, but that they also shouldn't worry about upsetting him; he was fine with it, as long as they didn't get too mushy when he was around. He'd finished his little speech with asking what Andrea liked to eat for breakfast, leaving his foster-mother smiling proudly and Andrea still struggling for words.
The Rusty from that night, however, was a far cry from the kid that was now bolting for his room, half-heartedly bidding them a good night over his shoulder.
Sharon and Andrea shared a concerned look, wondering about the change in the teenager. The day had started out with all three in a good mood, and once Rusty had made an offhand comment about his shoes starting to show a bit too much wear, the trio had decided to go shoe-hunting. It was during their trip to the mall when he'd suddenly become withdrawn and fidgety.
Sharon had tried to ask him a few times about what had happened, but Rusty had kept avoiding the issue, either changing the subject, or telling her outright that he didn't want to talk about it. Finally, Sharon had let him be, hoping he'd come to her when he was ready.
"Are you sure you're up for this?" Sharon asked Andrea as she tilted her head towards Rusty's room, her voice laced with worry for her foster-son.
"I'm sure," the woman promised her. "Look, Sharon, I'm getting into this relationship with both eyes wide open. I know there are certain… challenges ahead, but nothing so bad that would make me want to back out, now that we've finally reached this point. I want this. I want you. And I don't want some polished version; I want you as you are, the whole package, with everything and everyone that comes with it. Trust me, honey, I really wouldn't have it any other way."
"I'm very relieved to hear that," Sharon murmured with a smile. Her worry over Rusty was nagging at her, but, despite that, she had enjoyed the evening, and, hearing Andrea's words, Sharon's heart melted some more. She pulled the younger woman closer so that they could cuddle properly.
Sharon was, without a doubt, enjoying this part of the relationship and was fast becoming quite addicted to it. Despite already having shared a bed, they had yet to go further than kissing and holding each other while they slept; the slow pace seemed to suit both of them just fine, though. Even though their relationship status had been elevated from friends to something more only a while ago, they both knew they were in it for the long-haul, and, therefore, agreed that there was no need to rush things.
Some time later, Sharon and Andrea were still on the couch, talking quietly, when the door to Rusty's room was suddenly wrenched open, and the boy practically ran out to the living room. He paced around, wrangling his hands, and generally looked like a caged animal.
Untangling herself from Andrea, Sharon stood and slowly approached him.
"Rusty? What is it?"
He looked at her helplessly, struggling to put into words what he was feeling.
"I don't know what I need to do, I don't know what, but something, 'cos it feels like the walls are coming down and I really… I can't sit down, and I don't know… I feel like I need to run again, like I need to run from my past, from stuff that's going to happen, just run… Sharon, I…"
Seeing Rusty so distressed, in turn, pained Sharon. She slowly pulled him into a hug, giving him plenty of time to retreat if he needed to, and it said a lot about the state Rusty was in that he allowed it. But he was wound tighter than a string, his fight or flight instincts running high. Sharon looked over his shoulder at Andrea, who'd also gotten up and was now standing with them, looking about as worried as Sharon felt. Sharon knew she was looking at Andrea as if expecting the other woman to have all the answers, but, truthfully, Sharon was at a loss as how to help him.
"Okay," Andrea said, drawing Rusty's attention as well. "Get your shoes, grab your jackets, or the like, and follow me."
"What? Where are we going?" Rusty wanted to know.
"Just follow me," the DDA repeated, not giving anything else away. She even held up her hand to quiet any further inquiries from either Sharon, or Rusty.
As the three were walking across the garage building towards Andrea's car less than five minutes later, Sharon marveled at the commanding presence Andrea could exude. Of course, she saw it at work from time to time, but it was still mesmerizing to witness. So enthralled was Sharon that she didn't even realize she was the one being bossed around, something she usually balked at. Or, perhaps, it was the way Andrea gently caressed Sharon's lower back and shoulders, something which both women had noticed never failed to calm Sharon.
Once they'd piled into the car and were leaving the garage, Sharon asked for a hint as to where they were headed.
"You'll find out soon enough. Just trust me," Andrea answered, glancing first at Sharon, who rolled her eyes, but smiled nonetheless, before taking a moment longer to look at Rusty via the rearview mirror. She saw how restless he still was and smiled at him encouragingly.
"Hang in there just a bit longer, Rusty."
The rest of the ride was made in silence, although occasional glances between the women were exchanged. At some point, Sharon's hand found its way on top of Andrea's in a silent thank you for, once again, being there for her and Rusty.
It didn't take them long to arrive at their destination: the beach. Andrea commanded everyone out of the car, quickly grabbing a blanket and a torch from the trunk. Then, with the help of the light, she led them across the sand in the dark. Though, had they allowed their eyes to adjust, they could've made it without the torch; the road lights illuminated the beach some, as did the stars and the moon.
"Andrea, what are we doing here?" Rusty finally asked, unable to quell his curiosity any longer, when they were almost by the water's edge. He didn't mind the beach during daytime, but he couldn't figure out what they were doing there at almost one in the morning.
"If you can hold on for just one more minute, I'll tell you," Andrea replied patiently, as she started to spread out the blanket. She, then, guided Sharon to sit down on it before turning to Rusty.
"You have your phone?"
"Good. Keep it in your hand just in case, do not lose it. Sharon and I will sit here and we'll leave the torch on so you can find us."
Rusty stared at her, not understanding what she was trying to tell him.
"Run." Andrea finally ordered. "Run as hard, as fast, and as long as you can. Just come back. We'll wait right here. Or, if you get too tired to run back, call us and we'll get the car and come pick you up."
Rusty still looked at her, flabbergasted. Then he glanced down at Sharon, whom he could barely make out in the dark, his eyes not having adjusted to the darkness yet. She nodded, giving her permission. "Just promise you'll call if you need us."
Now it was Rusty's turn to nod before he dropped his keys on the blanket and started running, sand flying behind him. It took just a few seconds for his form to be swallowed by the blackness that surrounded them. Sharon and Andrea watched after him even when they could no longer see him. Then, after a minute or two, Andrea sat down behind Sharon, legs on either side of the older woman, and pulled her closer. Sharon leaned in, welcoming the safety of the embrace.
"Thank you," Sharon whispered after a while.
"I didn't step over any lines?"
"No. Oh, no, Andrea. I had no idea what to do. He was trembling. I mean, he was actually shivering, because he was so distraught. I don't know what happened today; I tried asking while you were making lunch, and then again later, but he wouldn't tell me. But it felt like he was almost ready to just explode. And I never would have thought of this," Sharon confessed.
"When I was a kid, there was a time when I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin," Andrea said. "It was after my brother had died, and I tried to be brave and not cry. I tried so damn hard."
At hearing this, Sharon tried to turn around, so that she could see Andrea's face, but the other woman held her tighter, no letting her. "Of course, it all just built inside of me, until I was so distraught, so angry, that I wanted break something, or hit something. My dad took me to the woods; he used to hunt and knew the area well. We were miles and miles away from other people, and he lead me to this clearing not far from our car. He told me to just let it all out, that he'd be in the car waiting for me when I was ready to come back. Then he left.
"I didn't get it at first. I just stood there; I didn't understand how I was supposed to talk about it all if he wasn't there. But then all that anger and rage came out, and I screamed. I screamed at the top of my lungs for I don't know how long. Eventually, I had no voice left. I was sweaty, and exhausted, and my head was hurting like hell, but the oppressive weight on my chest had lifted some.
"When I went back to the car, I could see my dad had been crying. I can only imagine what it must have been like for him, listening to me. He didn't ask any questions; he just hugged me and told me he loved me. Then he helped me into the car, saying something about how mom must be wondering where we were, and we drove back home."
Sharon, who'd been listening to the story, wiped away the tears that were running down her cheeks. She imagined the young Andrea in so much pain, and then she thought of Rusty. If only he would talk to her.
"Did you ever talk to your father? About what was making you hurt so much?"
"No," Andrea admitted. "But that was probably because he already knew. He knew I missed Matthew, and he knew I hadn't allowed myself to grieve. Now, I don't know a place anywhere close enough where we could take Rusty to scream his anguish out, but I thought maybe running till he can't stand would help at least some."
They fell silent for a while after that. It was an odd setup: Andrea telling something so painful from her past, and, yet, she was the one holding Sharon, offering her support. Sharon wasn't quite sure how she'd gotten this lucky.
It was a long time before Rusty finally called Sharon, saying that he was going to meet them at the car. The women gathered up the blanket, shaking it to get rid of the sand. Making sure they didn't leave anything behind, the two women started the walk back to the car, hand in hand.
Sure enough, as they reached Andrea's car, Rusty was already waiting for them. He was drenched in sweat and he was still trying to even out his breathing. He had tear tracks running down his face, and his eyes were red and puffy. The fact that he didn't hide from them reminded Sharon just how far they'd come. She moved closer toward him, still slightly cautiously, trying to gauge how he was feeling; she didn't want to make him feel the least bit uncomfortable. But, then, Rusty took a step closer, and Sharon went with her instincts; she pulled him into an embrace, giving him plenty of time to let her know if was too much, but he immediately hugged her back.
"You don't have to tell me what's going on; you don't have to talk to anyone if you don't want to," Sharon assured him. "But know this: whatever it is, whether you tell me or not, I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere."
Sharon felt Rusty nodding, and she understood that he was probably not ready to say anything yet, which was fine by her.
"I love you, Rusty," Sharon reminded him, voicing the depth of her feelings for him only for the second time.
He let out a shuddering breath and nodded vehemently. He still didn't say a word, but his hold on her strengthened. And that was enough for Sharon.