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Thread: Pieces of My Heart

  1. #9
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    Oct 2000
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    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~24~




    Title: If It Kills Me
    Rating: G, PG tops
    Warnings: mentions of off-screen violence, criminal activity, maybe a bit of angst
    Characters/Pairings: Luis, minor characters, mentions of Sheridan, original character, Hank
    Summary: prompt: taxi. For the second time in as many hours, Luis found himself in the back seat of a New York taxi with his stern FBI counterpart, but this time he was wide awake, his heart hammering in his chest and his mouth dry.








    Luis caught a glimpse of himself in the rear-view mirror and matched the wince his (opinionated) cab driver failed to hide.

    “You, my friend, look like you were on the wrong end of a Yankees’ bat.”

    “Mets,” Freeman opined beside Luis, effectively stealing the rest of the words from their loquacious chauffeur’s mouth and leaving them in relative silence (but if looks could kill…) as the cab lurched forward to creep along the crowded streets.

    Luis slumped deeper into the cushions of his seat, reclining his weary head back. Overwhelmed by the high rises towering toward the heavens on either side of him and the cacophony of noises that made up the (never sleeping) city, he felt a headache thrumming at his temples. For a long while, neither he nor Freeman spoke, and Luis felt his thoughts drifting to more pleasant things (Emma’s sunny smile, Sheridan’s blue, blue eyes, the amazing but terrifying feeling of utter rightness he felt holding her in his arms). He must have dozed, because the next thing he knew, Freeman was arguing with the cabbie over his exorbitant fee (and, just for sport, the Yankees versus the Mets), and they had reached their destination.

    Luis proudly refused when Freeman offered a helping hand, and by the time they reached the cramped 3rd floor apartment he’d called home for the last 4 months (barely 3, actually, taking into account his most recent, lengthy stay in a hospital bed), Luis was profoundly grateful for the opportunity to sit again. Even the lumpy sofa that had come with the furnished apartment felt good to his overtaxed system. Cracking one eye open, Luis peered at the older man as he surveyed the apartment with a critical eye.

    “Hardly home sweet home is it?” Freeman finally remarked, picking up the messy pile of mail thrown haphazardly on the tiny kitchen tabletop and walking back toward Luis.

    “You said it yourself, Freeman,” Luis straightened in his seat as the FBI agent approached, a single brow arched high in interest as he carded through the mail forwarded by the Bureau. “This is a job; not a vacation, 5-star hotel included.”

    “Still,” Freeman replied, “a man is entitled to a few creature comforts, and this place has little, if any, to boast.” Perching himself on the edge of the mismatched, too small armchair that made the ratty sofa look good, he continued, “You were instrumental in bringing down one of the largest drug cartels on the Eastern coast, and all you have to show for it is some broken ribs and a face that looks like it was pummeled by a sledgehammer. The least you deserve is a good night’s rest in a nice, soft, non-hospital bed. Not in a five-star hotel, mind you, but something a little more…sanitary.”

    Luis followed the other man’s eyes and had to agree with him on one point. The little apartment had certainly suffered in the wake of his month-long hospital confinement (recovery sounded too…nice…for what had transpired there). But the only bed Luis wanted to sleep in tonight was his own—in Harmony (his subconscious berated him for stooping to the new low of deluding himself with that half-truth). As to how to make that happen, he didn’t have the energy or the resources to make his desire a reality, at least not in the immediate future. He nodded at the pile of mail Freeman had tossed carelessly onto the coffee table and forced a note of casual disinterest in his tone when he asked (channeling the oft’ thought of Hank), “Nothing from Publisher’s Clearing House?”

    Freeman would have winced at the failed attempt at humor, but he read in Luis’s eyes and demeanor the question he wasn’t asking (the letters from the little girl had been a distraction the Bureau couldn’t afford, not in such a high-profile case, and the unenviable task of seeing that they ceased had fallen on his shoulders), and he felt he owed this man something for putting his life on the line like he had (for her, for both of them, the agents that now considered him more than just an interloper) in the successful operation to take the remaining French thug and the American goons that had helped make his re-emergence so lucrative down for good. Roger would meet his ultimate fate swiftly by their country’s judiciary standards, but not swiftly enough, Freeman knew. New York was, thankfully, a short plane ride from Harmony, and Luis could be flown out, at any point in the future, to give his testimony. It was (past) time to pay his invaluable comrade back the best way he knew how: by taking him home and helping him bust up a wedding, that to Hal’s way of thinking (the child was a given, but any idiot could see the man loved that woman more than was wise) had no business happening. Pushing himself back to his feet, he bent and stretched out an arm to pluck the invitation from the top of the pile and handed it over to Luis. “Not the lottery, I’m afraid, but your last chance to make things right and wake up from that stubborn stupor of yours.”

    Every muscle in Luis’s body tensed as he recognized the invitation for what it was, and he abruptly lifted his eyes back to Freeman’s expectant face, the image of the elegant script burned into his memory (You are cordially invited…).

    “Make yourself presentable, my friend,” Freeman smoothed down his own rumpled jacket and glanced at the watch on his wrist. “We have a wedding to attend, and I’m afraid we’re running a bit late.”

    For the second time in as many hours, Luis found himself in the back seat of a New York taxi with his stern FBI counterpart, but this time he was wide awake, his heart hammering in his chest and his mouth dry.

    The invitation rested on the seat between the two men, its engraved words taunting one man, pressing the other into throwing the considerable weight of his badge around in the effort to make amends for something that was (only partially) his doing. It lay there, forgotten, as they reached the airport, and Freeman tossed a wad of cash at the cabbie (a kinder, gentler version) before sprinting after and easily catching up to the weakened man now operating purely on adrenalin and the fear of his regrets.

    A businessman with a briefcase beneath one arm, suitcase wedged beneath the other barely spared a glance for Freeman as he sidestepped him and slid into the vacated back seat of the cab. The cabbie thrust the bills in his pocket with fingers that trembled with disbelief as the businessman rambled off an address and slammed the door behind him.

    The invitation slid to the floor, to be pushed and kicked around by several other passengers before the cabbie finally called it a night and parked his vehicle, only to have his trio of ragamuffins descend on him all at once.

    Seven-year-old Billy picked up the crumpled piece of paper that fluttered to the ground at his feet and smoothed out its wrinkles, proudly showing off his improving reading skills while his kid sisters climbed and clung to his father’s neck like the annoying little monkeys they were. “…to the wed-iiing of Henn-rry Ben—Benn—ett and Sh-sh-sher—i—dan Cr-cr-aaannnee. Do you know them, Dad?” Billy wondered as he hurried to match his father’s strides, and his mother opened the front door, creating a fascinating wedge of light and shadows across the small yard that held the boy utterly transfixed for a second, his question completely forgotten.

    “Billy,” his mother lightly chastised as she hurried down the front steps to steer her fanciful son inside after his sisters and father. “Put that in the garbage and go wash your hands. Dinner’s getting cold.”

    Billy dutifully followed his mother’s orders, his question forever unanswered.











    Sorry for such a long wait in-between chapters. RL (a change in job/job schedule) has really limited my fic-writing time as of late, but I managed to squeeze in a little bit of fun on this lazy Sunday.


    I hope you enjoyed the latest chapter.


    It's not exactly my best, but I think it did shed a better light on our hero, don't you?


    Feedback is loved and adored.


    Thanks so much for reading!!!

    P.S. Mistakes are all mine.

  2. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~25~




    Title: Forever Road
    Rating: PG, with some slight leanings toward PG-13.
    Warnings: angst, brief allusions to past sexual situations, mentions of a certain movie not belonging to me.
    Characters/Pairings: other character, Luis, mentions of Hank, Sheridan.
    Summary: prompt: search. The church doors closed heavily (with an unwelcome thud that sounded of finality) behind the two men, and the weight of a thousand and one regrets pressed down on Luis’s tired shoulders as he turned back around, head downcast.






    “May I help you?”

    Freeman turned to address the young priest while Luis drifted down the carpeted aisle in a fog of disappointment (devastation). The exchange was as quiet as it was quick, but Luis caught enough of it to come to an awful realization. He bent to retrieve a crushed rose petal as Freeman’s footfalls approached, rubbing the pink velvet between his fingers thoughtfully (it wasn’t too hard to imagine Emma walking down this aisle before her mother, all honey curls and satin and lace, smiles and giggles and little hands full of petals) as he spoke aloud the terrible truth the agent hesitated to disclose. “We’re too late. I’m too late.”

    “Father Jonas informed me the Bennett reception is underway at The Seascape as we speak and open to all. He just returned to the church to retrieve something for Father Lonagin. He offered us a ride.” Freeman only allowed a second’s pause before he continued. “I turned him down.”

    Luis settled heavily into the pew nearest him, resting his elbows on his knees and dropping his weary head into his hands. One dark brow climbed upward in consideration as he glanced over at the man by his side, looking just as rumpled and exhausted as he felt (but never as heart-sick, never that; he hadn’t foolishly let the best thing that had ever happened to him, the key to his entire life’s happiness, slip right through his fingers). “You should go. There’ll be free food.”

    Freeman loosened the knot of his tie and pushed his sleeves up as he scanned his surroundings (flowers and ribbon, stained-glass windows and flickering candles), and he felt another pang of guilt assail him as his measured gaze lit back upon the man currently unable to disguise the extent of his defeat. Clearing his throat, he gruffly told Luis, “Don’t forget the free booze.”

    “You should go,” Luis repeated with a pained smile in response. “I need…I just need…” Words and his voice failed him in that moment, but the older man seemed to understand all the same, and offered him his hand.

    “If you ever change your mind about joining the Bureau…” Freeman trailed off, his handshake firm with respect, his blue eyes soft with compassion.

    “I’ll give you a call,” Luis promised, standing up to see Freeman off.

    “It’s been an honor, my friend.”

    “An honor,” Luis echoed softly with a nod. He watched Freeman amble down the church aisle, catch back up with the young priest, and place a hand upon the thin, black-clad shoulder as he rescinded his earlier refusal of the young clergyman’s offer. The church doors closed heavily (with an unwelcome thud that sounded of finality) behind the two men, and the weight of a thousand and one regrets pressed down on Luis’s tired shoulders as he turned back around, head downcast. He didn’t immediately realize he wasn’t alone, until he lifted his (bruised and battered) face to the faint flicker of candlelight and heard a (her) sharp intake of breath.

    Sheridan’s hair glowed golden in the dancing flicker of flames. Her white gown glimmered and reflected light, and her blue eyes were moist with unspoken emotion as they met Luis’s own.

    She was unspeakably beautiful to Luis’s wanting eyes, and he wondered briefly if she were merely a mirage of his own desperate making. But then she spoke, soft and with that familiar sweet edge of sarcasm that had started him on the slow slide to love all those years ago, and Luis wanted to laugh at himself for ever thinking he could accomplish such a miraculous feat.

    “For such a stickler for punctuality, you’re awfully late, Supercop.”

    Luis didn’t respond right away, just drank in the welcome (soul-wrenching) sight of her as he drew closer to her (when he was no more than arm’s length away, his feet refused to go any farther and his heart started to thump erratically in his chest). “That’s just like you, Crane, throwing my words back in my face.” Sheridan stepped closer to him, and Luis couldn’t stand it, couldn’t handle having her so close to him, so he shuffled backward, looked to his side in an attempt to avoid her liquid blue eyes. The question spilled out of his mouth before he could stop it, before he could snatch the words back, and Sheridan went completely still at the harsh edge to his voice. “Don’t you have someplace else to be? It’s bad form to be late for your own reception.” He felt the whisper of the air around her as she moved past him, the rustle of her dress, and he found himself staring at the long, sleek line of her back, the pearls of her (too) straightened spine (he remembered how she’d shivered when he rest his hand there, as he’d held her close, as he’d buried himself so deeply inside her she’d felt more like an extension of himself, his body, his heart, his soul). Her voice was muffled as she answered him, one hand resting on the solid wood of the pew to her right, the other lifting to her face and swiftly dropping back down to her side (were those tears on her face?).

    “You know Hank doesn’t need me to get the party started.”

    Luis had nothing to say to that truth, and the silence yawned between them, stretched and grew more uncomfortable by the minute, until Sheridan bravely pushed back against it with a simple (complicated) question that made Luis’s own heart go still beneath its bony armor (turnabout is fair play and all that).

    “Why, Luis? Why did you come?” Sheridan asked the question without irony, without guile, without meeting Luis’s intense stare (still, she felt his phantom touch in the gooseflesh that pebbled her skin).

    “I had to.” Luis kept his response (maddeningly) succinct though forthright.

    It wasn’t enough for Sheridan, and she asked the question again, a whisper torn from her lips as she stared straight ahead, not daring to turn her head, look at Luis, as she felt him (the heat of his body) come nearer. “Why?”

    “It doesn’t matter now,” Luis sighed behind her, reaching out to touch her but stopping just short, his hand drawing up in a fist that he clutched close to his heart. “All that matters now is that you’re happy, Hank’s happy,” he told her, turning again and walking back up the aisle, toward the beckoning flicker of illumination at its end (but not the kind he was seeking). He picked up an unlit candle, tested its weight in the palm of his hand, watched its wick disappear into the shimmering flames, and sent up a silent prayer (that it’d be true, that they’d be happy, that Emma’d be happy, yet she’d still keep him there, tuck the memory of him close in a far corner of her heart). “It doesn’t matter why I came,” he told her. “Not anymore.”

    “It does,” Sheridan insisted. “It matters to me.”

    She joined him then; they stood side by side. Luis could feel the brush of her arm against him as she reached for her own candle (it was the most agonizing yet amazing feeling, feeling that alive, from a touch so small, so inconsequential), and his eyes fell shut as she rest her hand next to his, their little fingers barely touching, on the time-hewn wood. “It shouldn’t. You’re his wife now. I was…I am too late.”

    “Are you, Luis? Are you really too late?”

    Sheridan’s hand moved over his, her palm cradling the back of his hand, her fingers lacing through his own, and Luis’s eyes opened, his heart renewed its pounding inside his chest (with hope?) at what he saw (or didn’t see) when he stared at their clasped hands. His hand was large, made rough and callused from years of hard work, dark; her hand was smaller, finely-boned and elegant, light—and absent of Hank’s binding ring. The discovery rocked Luis, stole the words from his tongue, and he could only stare at her in awe, drown in the mesmerizing blue of her eyes.

    Slowly, disappointedly, Sheridan withdrew her hand, shook her head as tears spilled onto her cheeks, sparkles in the candlelight, when her question failed to spur him into speech, action. “You still can’t say it, can you? Why is it so hard to tell me how you feel, Luis? You can write it on a piece of paper in fairy tale riddles (As you wish) but you just…can’t…say…the…words. Hank was wrong. You’re not deserving of a chance you won’t take.”

    Clutching her skirt in her fists, Sheridan turned to go, to leave him one last time, and she almost made it, but somewhere between disbelieving euphoria and the crushing possibility that he was letting his love, his life, slip through his hands again, Luis rediscovered his voice. “You waited for me.”

    “I thought I had a reason to,” Sheridan tossed back to him in a tear-rough voice. “I was wrong.”

    Luis’s voice was just as rough with emotion when he answered her. “You weren’t wrong, Crane. You were never wrong. Do you remember the night Theresa made us watch that silly movie? The princess was named after a flower.”

    “I remember,” Sheridan murmured.

    “Theresa teased us, teased me. She said I was like Westley, that every time I argued with you, every time I saved you, every time I called you Crane, I was just like him. That what I really meant, what I was showing you was…” Luis trailed off, waiting for Sheridan to make the connection, save him from further making a fool out of himself, and she did, in a soft, wavering whisper as she turned to face him, to watch his careful approach.

    “That you loved me.” With her back pressed against the heavy church doors and her hands knotted in front of her, Sheridan tried once more, “Why did you come, Luis?”

    Luis covered her hands with his hands, shackled her wrists, slithered his palms up her smooth skin to capture and cradle her elbows. “I had to. You know that,” he told her in a low, gravelly voice, letting go of one of her elbows to lift his hand to her face, tuck away an errant strand of gold.

    “Tell me, Luis,” Sheridan pleaded tearfully. “Say the words.”

    “I don’t just want it all, Crane,” Luis cupped her jaw in his warm palm. “I want more,” he informed her, recalling another conversation, months ago, where their hearts had bled themselves raw, and he’d done it again, left without saying goodbye (he wouldn’t do it again; his search for peace ended here, tonight). Smiling down into her blue, blue eyes, he laid it on the line for her, the best way he knew how. “I want forever. With you. With Emma. Even with Lucy.”

    His admission drew a sob from Sheridan’s trembling lips, and she covered the hand that held her so tenderly with one of her own, smiling through her tears as Luis continued, his voice gaining confidence with each new declaration he made.

    “I want to fill that monstrosity of a house of yours with Emma’s.”

    “Just Emma’s?” Sheridan gathered her composure enough to tease, her eyes shining. “What about Luke’s?”

    “Luke’s too,” Luis’s smile stretched into a grin, and he lifted his other hand to cup the graceful curve of her neck. “I want to argue with you, dance with you, cook with you. I want to raise my family with you...”

    Sheridan didn’t disappoint Luis; she focused on one part of his statement, her blue eyes now twinkling with loving amusement. “Cook with me, Supercop?”

    “Just making sure I had your full and undivided attention,” Luis was quick to quip.

    “You had me at forever,” Sheridan assured him, soothing her fingers over the mottled bruises that covered his beloved face. Her fingertips came to rest over his full lips, his beautiful mouth, and she spoke wonderingly as she raised herself up on tiptoe, pressed herself close to him and the safety and breadth of his strong arms. “Why, with me?”

    “You know why,” Luis’s warm breath bathed her lips as he tugged her chin toward him, searched deep in her blue eyes for her understanding as the fingers of his other hand fanned across the nape of her neck, stealing into her golden curls.

    Sheridan’s patience was rewarded with a kiss, sweet and full of passion and revelation, and when it was over, she could still feel the imprint of Luis’s answer (because I love you) in the tingle of her lips, in the happiness singing through her veins. She leaned forward to kiss the corner of his mouth again as she tangled their fingers together and smiled.

    “Take me home, Crane,” Luis sighed, letting Sheridan lead him where she might, her answer unraveling the final knot of worry in his gut as he finally accepted it, the truth of his feelings for this woman who’d waited for him, even when he hadn’t deserved her faith.

    “As you wish.”










    I thought about ending it here (I so could), but in the end, I decided not to, since there are only 5 chapters left. I'll be sad to come to the end of this fic, but at the same time, I welcome the opportunity to pick back up the rest of my stories I've been neglecting in favor of entertaining Emma's very insistent voice when it comes to getting these two stubborn kids together.

    LOL!

    Remember, feedback is love!

    Thanks so much for reading!!!

  3. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
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    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~26~




    Title: If I Knew Then
    Rating:I'm going with PG, because G, even though nothing objectionable (imo) occurs in this chapter, doesn't seem quite right.
    Warnings: none, really, unless the idea of Luis disrobing threatens to send you into V-fib, lol. I take that back...slight angst.
    Characters/Pairings:Sheridan/Luis, Emma, mentions of Hank
    Summary: prompt: pills. "I need to know you're serious about this, Supercop. That you mean it."




    Sheridan took him home, but not without a little detour along the way (for the rest of his life, Luis would never forget the way that little girl had thrown herself into his arms, wrapped her arms around his neck, and soaked his shirt with her tears). Even Lucy had been happy to see him, licking and nuzzling his hand as he'd held it out to her, soaking up his gruff affection until Sheridan had quietly stepped in, taken the dog by the collar, and coaxed her away from Luis's side.

    "I'll take care of her. Why don't you two go on upstairs?"

    A part of Luis, a large part, didn't want to let Sheridan out of his sight, not for a single minute, but his fatigue and the warm weight of the sleeping little girl curled in his arms gave him no other choice but to agree. Still, he caught and clasped Sheridan's hand tightly in his own as she slipped past, the words he wanted so badly to say to her poised on the tip of his impotent tongue as he stared long and hard into her knowing blue eyes.

    Sheridan squeezed Luis's hand reassuringly, breathed out a promise. "I won't be long. You're exhausted," she reminded him gently. "Go on up. I'll be there."

    With only the moonlight for illumination, Luis fumbled, one-handed, for the chain on Sheridan's bedside lamp when he entered her darkened bedroom.

    Emma whimpered softly when Luis tried to lower her from his shoulder to the soft mattress below, her little fingers clutching and clinging desperately to the cotton stretched tautly over his broad shoulders.

    The unconscious reaction was like an arrow to Luis's heart, and he knew, for as long as he drew breath and walked this earth, he wouldn't give her reason to doubt his place in her life again. No matter what happened between him and Sheridan from this night forward, he vowed not to let it affect his relationship with the little girl he held near and dear to his heart. He pressed a kiss to the fragrant honey curls tickling his nose and tightened his arms about her as he considered his options. Finally, he walked to the other side of the bed and eased himself back against the headboard, his legs dangling awkwardly off the side, and he offered Sheridan a chagrined smile when she appeared in the doorway, her mouth pursed in amusement.

    The low lamplight made her gown shimmer, and her skirt rustled softly as Sheridan approached them, setting the glass in her hand down on the night stand beside Luis and placing a couple of pills next to it (she recalled another time, another place, those first failings of not-quite-unrequited love, and the worry she'd felt then as now). Humor tempered with deep understanding lit her blue eyes as she loosened and removed Luis's shoes, letting them thud against the hardwood, and she combed Emma's tangle of curls back from her face as she straightened, standing before them. Reading Luis's dark eyes, she nodded and turned to go, returning shortly with a nightgown for Emma in one hand and Buttons in the other.

    Emma tucked between them, and Sheridan so close Luis could feel each soft exhalation and shallow intake of her breath, they undressed the child, removing her ivory dress (satin and lace, just as Luis had imagined) and ballet slippers and leaving her clad in only her underwear. It took some careful navigation and strategy on their part, but they managed to slip the pink nightgown over Emma's curly head without much incident, and the little girl finally relaxed her iron grip enough for Sheridan to extract her from Luis's arms and cradle her close while Luis reached over with one hand to pull the comforter back and shove a few pillows aside (she'd grown so much in the months he'd been gone, and Luis momentarily felt as if his breath had been knocked out of him with the knowledge of all that he had missed). Luis stood, groaning softly, and the wordless spell that had befallen them was broken, a soft protest in the form of his name spilling from Sheridan's lips.

    "Luis."

    He kissed her then, slow and sweet, one big hand cradling the back of Emma's head, then stepped back, his eyes dark and glittering and serious as he regarded her, them both, she in her wedding gown, Emma with pink petals woven through her abundance of curls. "I should sleep in Emma's room." He left it unspoken, the why, the too-clear memory of the disappointment in Hank's brown eyes even his bright grin couldn't disguise, but he needn't have.

    Sheridan knew, without him spelling it out, the source of his reservations, but she also knew the clarity of thwarted regrets, and she wasn't about to let him pull back, put distance between them again, not now, and she held fast to his gaze, to his hand, unwilling to let him go. "The bed's big enough for the three of us," she reasoned. "You want to be the one to disappoint her again, go ahead. Be my guest."

    "You're not playing fair, Crane."

    Sheridan lifted a brow as if to say so, and she knew she'd won when Luis's hands went to his belt. She felt a flush creeping up her neck as he pulled the leather free from its restraints and lowered his zipper, pushing his pants down his powerful legs. His shirt was next, tossed to the foot of the bed, and she felt a pang of remorse for manipulating him when he gently removed her daughter from her arms, cradling her against his chest as he knelt on the bed, tucking the covers and Buttons close to her. Fading bruises, yellowed around the edges, gripped his ribcage, clung to his side, wrapped around his body to disappear beneath the waistband of his black boxers, and Sheridan lifted emotion-ridden blue eyes to his beloved face, finding him staring back at her. "Luis," she repeated. "Hank was there for me. I cared for him, loved him even, but I was never in love with him. It was always you, and he knew that."

    "You were going to marry him, Sheridan," Luis shook his head.

    "Only because I couldn't have you," Sheridan delivered softly.

    "Still," Luis persisted. "His feelings for you were real. I feel like I'm disrespecting them, being here with you, like this, on what would be your wedding night."

    "Almost doesn't count, Luis," Sheridan protested. "We never…" She trailed off in embarrassment, feeling wetness prick the corners of her eyes anew. "If you leave, this will all feel like an impossible dream, and I don't think I can bear it. I need to know you're serious about this, Supercop. That you mean it," she told him with tears slipping down her cheeks. "That Emma and I can count on you not to break our hearts again."

    Her tearful admission tore at Luis's heart, and he pulled her into his arms, tucked her close, brushed his lips against her forehead as he let her cry, air the insecurities his stubbornness had created within her. Then he whispered it again, those simple (hard), magical words, willing her to believe. "I love you, Sheridan. Just try and get rid of me."

    "Stay with me. Stay with us."

    "I'll stay," Luis relented, releasing her with another kiss to her forehead. He helped her take off her shimmering gown with tender fingers, his touch soothing, that ever-present current of electricity humming between them (still, their minds were full of heavier things, the little girl sleeping so peacefully on her bed, the friend they'd both hurt not far from their thoughts), and dressed her in his discarded tee-shirt, pulling the soft material low on her thighs and feeling her tremble within his arms.

    Sheridan's blue eyes glittered at Luis in the darkness as she reached a hand out to kill the lights, and she pulled the covers back to slip into bed beside Emma, placing a comforting hand on the child's back when she whimpered again softly in her sleep, reaching for Luis when the bed dipped beneath his weight and his dark head settled on the pillow beside hers.

    Luis's hand covered hers, and a peaceful sigh escaped Emma's parted pink mouth as she cuddled closer.

    Sheridan's eyes drifted closed.

    Luis stayed.







    By the most tenuous of strands, I fulfilled my prompt.

    LOL!


    Mistakes are all mine.

    Feedback is love!

    Thanks so very much for reading!

  4. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~27~


    Title: Between the Lines
    Rating: G, PG
    Warnings: some angst
    Characters/Pairings: Ethan, Hank, mentions of Luis, Sheridan, Emma, Gwen, Sam/Grace, minor character, mentions of Theresa, Eve, T.C., mentions of Russell girls
    Summary: prompt: lawyers. "I know she loves him, Ethan, but I also knowfor whatever reason, Luis won't allow himself to love her the way she deserves to be loved. He only gives her pieces of his heart…"



    Ethan looked up as a shadow fell across his desk, and his blue eyes narrowed thoughtfully at the man lingering uncertainly at the threshold to his office.

    Hank cleared his throat, raked a hand through his brown hair, before smiling hopefully at the younger man. "Do you have a minute?"

    He looked nervous, a state of being Ethan hadn't thought possible for the affable man who'd pursued his aunt and provided a sort of balm to her hurts, her loneliness, in the months since Luis had left Harmony (and Sheridan, and Emma). Hoping to put him more at ease, Ethan smiled and extended his hand toward the unoccupied chair in front of his desk. "Sure." When Hank had settled in the chair (perched stiffly on its edge), Ethan leaned forward, his hands folded together. "What can I do for you, Hank?"

    Clearing his throat uncomfortably, Hank began, "I asked Sheridan to marry me."

    Brow furrowing (this was old news, to him, the town of Harmony, probably everybody except Luis, who no one had heard from in more than three worrying months), Ethan leaned back in his chair and regarded Hank curiously. He nodded slightly as he said, "She accepted your proposal. How are the wedding plans going?"

    The question seemed to relax Hank somewhat, and he shifted in his chair to get more comfortable. "Great. They're going great. Theresa and Gwen, they've been very helpful."

    A fond smile tugged at the corners of Ethan's mouth at the mention of the young woman who'd become such a friend to him and Gwen over the years. "Theresa's very talented," he opined. "And Gwen will do anything for Sheridan," Ethan continued. Even help her plan a wedding to a man that only held a tiny corner of her heart in his hands, he thought to himself. He absently fingered his wedding band as he spoke. "Sheridan's her best friend."

    "Luis is mine," Hank remarked off-handedly, quietly.

    He offered Ethan a small smile, and for the briefest of seconds, Ethan read the conflicting emotions in his friendly brown eyes. "Hank," he proceeded awkwardly.

    Hank cut him off with a raised hand and a self-deprecating chuckle. "I'm not blind, Ethan. I know she loves him."

    Ethan felt compelled to offer the other man a small measure of comfort. "My aunt Sheridan cares about you, Hank. She wouldn't have agreed to marry you if she didn't."

    Hank nodded, "I know." Shrugging, he tried for a grin but only succeeded with a tiny upturning of the corners of his mouth, "Who knows? Maybe someday she'll grow to love me like I love her." Growing more serious, he looked to Ethan with earnest brown eyes. "I know she loves him, Ethan, but I also know…for whatever reason, Luis won't allow himself to love her the way she deserves to be loved. He only gives her pieces of his heart. I want to give her my whole heart. I want to give Emma my whole heart. That's why I came here today, Ethan, to talk to you about Emma."

    Comprehension dawned on Ethan, and his blue eyes regarded Hank with compassion as he pressed on, completely unaware of how, just months earlier, his aunt had sat in that very chair, her heart broken but her mind very clear about one thing and one thing only. By confronting her (once again) with her own mortality, Nathan Wexler had only fortified what she'd already known, suspected from the moment Luis first held Emma in his arms. No one, no one, would give more of themselves to her daughter than Luis already had from that first breath until the time came to say goodbye, and she'd wanted to give her daughter the gift of that safety, that loyalty, that all-encompassing love if God and fate saw fit to wrench her life from her prematurely. Ethan had made the provisions to her will with Gwen acting as witness and had locked the amended document in this very desk, and now Hank, unwittingly, was on the verge of asking him for the impossible.

    "I know family law is not really your area, but I want, I need, your advice."

    "You want to adopt Emma," Ethan surmised.

    "I want to adopt Emma. I want to give that little girl my name," Hank smiled hopefully. "What do you think? Can you help me?"

    Ethan sighed, and Hank's brown eyes dimmed. He spoke kindly, softly, (un)knowingly unraveling the first fraying edge of the other man's hopeless hopes, his unattainable dreams, "Hank, there's something you should know."

    Weeks later, both men would revisit that conversation, the flickering candlelight illuminating the tears on Sheridan's smooth cheeks as Hank took her trembling hands in his own before a church full of their friends and family (save for one) and set her free with a kiss to her forehead and a glittering, half-hearted smile. "He deserves one more chance, Beautiful. Give it to him." Holding out his hand for Emma, Hank rest a hand atop her curly hair, tickled a fingertip across the pink ribbon nestled there, before kneeling in front of her and giving her a more light-hearted smile, hoping to ease her worry for her tearful mother and her youthful confusion. "Hey, Munchkin."

    Emma's fingers dipped into her basket of petals, captured a handful of the soft, fragrant velvet and rubbed the delicate blooms between her tiny painted fingertips as she shyly, uncertainly, returned Hank's smile. "Hi."

    "Have I told you what a pretty flower girl you are?" Hank asked her, twirling a springy honey curl around a teasing fingertip, releasing it to tap her button nose affectionately. "The prettiest flower girl I've ever seen."

    The little girl's responding smile glowed bright at the compliment, and Ethan's blue eyes connected briefly with Hank's across the church.

    Emma nestled her head against her mother's sparkling skirt and tugged her bottom lip between her pearly teeth, her bottomless blue eyes never leaving Hank's face as he continued to speak softly to her.

    "I hope one day I'm lucky enough to have a little girl just like you, and someone that loves me just as much as you and your mama…" Hank trailed off at Sheridan's quiet intake of breath and looked up to meet her moist, remorseful blue eyes one more time.

    Sheridan leaned heavily against Gwen's supportive embrace, clenched tightly to the other woman's hand, and tried to make him understand, but the only word she managed was his name. "Hank."

    Gently, Hank let Sheridan off the hook, with a simple, "I know." Standing back up, he cupped a hand around her jaw briefly before dropping it to his side and turning to the crowd of stunned friends and family hanging on every painful word. He acknowledged his brother's strong, loyal presence at his side with a nod and sought out his sister-in-law's compassionate figure in the pews stretched before him. He beckoned her forward with a hand and put on his biggest, brightest Hank smile. "You all came for a wedding, and you deserve one. It just won't be mine, not today." Sliding an arm around Grace's slender shoulders, he winked at her as he accepted the soft slide of her fingers through his own. "I happen to know for a fact that my big brother's always wanted to surprise you and renew your vows. What do you say, Grace? You've got a best man," Hank indicated himself with a twist of his thumb and sought out Eve with his eyes, sitting beside T.C. and her daughters, "someone to stand up for you, and you've got the prettiest flower girl in all of Maine just waiting for you to say the word."

    Emma raised her little fist, and pink petals fluttered and floated in the air around Grace.

    Grace sought out Sheridan's eyes, and finding her smiling at her through a veil of crystal tears, felt her own throat grow tight with emotion. "Hank, I don't know."

    "Get up here, Sammy," Hank nudged his brother with a sharp, encouraging elbow. "Convince your girl."

    Sam stepped around his brother, reclaimed his wife's hand from Hank's grasp and gave it an encouraging squeeze. "Will you do it, Grace?" Sam smiled lovingly at his wife of twenty-plus years. "Will you marry me?
    Again?"

    A tender, indulgent laugh tinkled from Grace's lips, and she returned his smile. "Yes, Sam. I'll marry you. Again."

    Gentle sighs and laughter traveled through the small church like a wave, and a rekindled spark of happiness lit Hank's brown eyes as he clapped his hands excitedly, "Then let's do this thing already. I know for a fact there's a fantastic party just waiting for us all at The Seascape, and I'm calling the first dance with the bride."

    For the first time since his calls for possible objections had spurred Hank's honorable conscience into action, Father Lonagin spoke up. "I believe the first dance belongs to the groom."

    "In this case, I think we can make an exception," Sam said, placing a firm hand on his brother's shoulder as Hank's own eyes drifted back to Sheridan.

    "Technically speaking," Hank began, his brown eyes dancing at her and making it impossible for Sheridan to do anything more than laugh and bestow upon him a grateful smile as she stepped forward and offered her bouquet of roses to Eve.

    As Eve took her place behind Grace, Sheridan kissed Hank's cheek with affection, and her hand lingered in his while she searched for the right words.

    In the end, Ethan's mouthed words said it simply and eloquently enough. Hank's answering nod, his unspoken response (You're welcome), only made Ethan respect him even more.







    So...I hope it was worth the (too) long wait.

    Only three more chapters left, lovelies.



    I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to miss writing this story.

    It's been one of my favorites.

    Feedback is love!

    I can't wait to read your thoughts.

    Until next time.


  5. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~28~





    Title: Landslide
    Rating: strong PG-13 to R.
    Warnings: sexual situations; sorry guys…I just couldn't help myself (neither could Sheridan and Luis, lol). Not what I originally had planned for this chapter, but our stubborn hero and heroine wouldn't have it any other way (especially with the way I'm denying them in Anna Begins).
    Characters/Pairings: Emma, Gwen, mentions of Ethan, Spencer, Hank, Sheridan/Luis, original places
    Summary: prompt: lipstick. "The way I figure it, this first date is over five years in the making."





    ~*~



    Sheridan retied the drooping yellow ribbon in Emma's curly hair, pressed a noisy kiss to her little daughter's cheek that effectively transformed the slight pout of her pretty mouth into a giggling smile, and straightened, rubbing at the faint lipstick remnants left behind by her show of affection. "You be good for Gwen, Emma-bug, and have fun with Spencer. I'll see you tomorrow."

    "Yes, Mama," Emma dutifully promised, the pout returning to her pink lips a mere second later as her clever brain caught up with her mouth, and she posed a rather pertinent question in her argument. "Why can't I go with you? You always let me go with you and Hank."

    Sheridan couldn't rightly refute her daughter's astute observation, and at a loss to explain the complexities of the human heart, in this case the complexities of her differing feelings toward Hank and Luis, she could only emit a helpless, sighing exhalation of her daughter's name. "Emma."

    Thankfully, Gwen stepped in and saved the day, or what remained of it. "After the movie, I was thinking we'd stop at Middleton's for sundaes, and then, well, I was thinking, if you and Spencer weren't too tired, we might go for a little late-night swim before bedtime."

    Emma's already big blue eyes had widened at the mention of ice cream and gotten progressively (comically) larger, and by the time Gwen had finished saying her piece, her change of heart was complete, and she was rushing upstairs, excitedly, in search of her bathing suit.

    Sheridan could only laugh in response. "Thanks," she said, tucking a wayward blond curl behind her ear as she regarded her friend. "I owe you, big time."

    Gwen shook her head, waving off Sheridan's expression of gratitude with a smile of her own, one teasing, knowing. "The way I figure it, this first date is over five years in the making. As much as Luis adores Emma, and he adores her plenty, I don't think he planned for your big night to include her. Actually," she amended after a moment's quick reflection, "knowing Luis, he probably did." A throat cleared behind her, and before she turned around, Gwen knew exactly who it was by taking one look at Sheridan's face (soft, adoring, radiant, head over heels in love).

    A grin tugged at Luis's lips when he felt Gwen's eyes fall on him, but he only had eyes for Sheridan, saw only her.

    Gwen felt herself swoon a little inside. Always handsome, the man was simply breathtaking free from the bonds of self-denial. Belatedly, she realized he was talking, and though his eyes never left Sheridan's beaming face, he was addressing her.

    "Did what?" Luis repeated, finally wrenching his awestruck gaze from Sheridan and regarding Gwen with slight amusement when it soon became apparent to him that she was a little dumbstruck.

    Shaking her head a little embarrassedly (Sheridan's soft, knowing laugh definitely wasn't helping matters any), Gwen finally rediscovered her powers of speech and ignored his question, calling up to Emma. "Need some help up there, Emma? Ethan and Spencer are waiting for us."

    Emma clattered down the stairs some minutes later, joyfully launching herself into Luis's waiting arms at first sight of him.

    Sheridan and Gwen wisely gave the pair time for their goodbyes, retreating into the kitchen where they packed Emma's purple swimsuit in her backpack with the rest of her little girl things and stowed away some of her favorite snacks for good measure. Thunder rumbled in the distance, and knowing the intensity of her daughter's fear of storms, Sheridan retraced her steps to the foyer, Emma's backpack slung over one slender, bare shoulder, expecting to find Emma attempting to sway Luis with her considerable tools of persuasion (those eyes, that pout), convince him to let her stay, tag along, but that wasn't what she found at all, and she turned just slightly when she felt Gwen's hand rest gently against her arm, just above her elbow. "I don't...she's not…Gwen. What do you think is going on?"

    "I think," Gwen grinned in response, "Miss Emma's asking Luis what his intentions are toward her mother." Smart girl, good girl. Squeezing Sheridan's arm, she warmly reassured her, "Relax. That little girl of yours is not going to let a little thing like Mother Nature stand in the way of her fondest wish coming true." A little of the confusion clouding Sheridan's blue eyes cleared, and Gwen softened with affection when the reality of the moment finally struck Sheridan. "She'll be fine. I got this, Sheridan. I do," she insisted, gently propelling Sheridan forward as Luis relinquished Emma from his arms and the child looked over at them both, held out her hand for Gwen. "I'll even pick up Lucy, take her home with us for the night," she promised as she ushered Emma out the door, before she had a change of heart, lost her stubborn (so Sheridan-like) nerve.

    When they had gone, when Sheridan and Luis found themselves alone, they could only stare at each other, words stolen from them, words too small for them, until Luis found some, gifted them to Sheridan, and made the first hint of moisture appear in her blue, blue eyes. "You're beautiful, Crane. That dress is fantastic."

    Her lips twitched, and she fought against her warring emotions. A smile threatened, heart on her sleeve, wide open, breathless, giddy, but tears of disbelief brimmed, and Sheridan knuckled them away, laughed shakily. "You clean up pretty good yourself, Supercop."

    A deep rumble of thunder sounded, closer than before, and Luis reluctantly tore his gaze away from her, glanced down at the watch on his wrist, smiled ruefully when the first raindrops started to fall outside (plop…plop…plop, plop*plop*plop). Then the heavens seemed to release in an abrupt torrent, and lightning started to flash in an increasingly impressive pyrotechnic display, and he sheepishly told her, "I didn't check the weather before I made our reservations at Renaldo's. I don't suppose you own some matching rain boots for that dress."

    Sheridan suppressed a laugh at his helpless, chagrined expression, strode forward on the stiletto heels that made her already long legs appear to stretch on forever, reached up a hand to loosen the constricting tie at his neck. "I think they would ruin the effect, don't you?"

    "Not completely," Luis smirked, settling a hand low on her exposed back, brushing his knuckles up and down the pearls of her spine and delighting in the ill-concealed shiver his actions elicited.

    Sheridan used the ends of his tie to draw him closer to her as the lights flickered overhead, and her eyes twinkled at him, one regal brow arched, as she breathed out huskily, just a hair's breath away from his upturned lips, "Kinky." His responding grin made her giggle, and she dropped her head against his shoulder, slid her hands down to settle them over his chest.

    Luis's hands moved over her sensitive skin, cupped her shoulders, lightly massaged them, and his mouth hovered over her ear as he apologized to her. "This isn't how I pictured this night going."

    "Hmm," Sheridan hummed with pleasure as his hands continued their gentle kneading. "How did you picture it?" Unconsciously, her hand settled over his steadily thudding heart, traced it with her fingertips.

    "Well," Luis's quiet, almost whispered words stirred the hair at her temple, "let's see. A private table on a seaside terrace, some of the best Italian around these parts, dancing, maybe a kiss goodnight, maybe two."

    "Sounds romantic," Sheridan murmured, leaning back to meet his steady gaze, her blue eyes shining. "Just two kisses, Supercop? Why stop there?"

    Luis took her teasing in stride, but his eyes were deadly serious, heated, as he let one of his hands slide around her shoulder, flirt with her enticing cleavage, on its way to her waist to pull her close again. "Because, Crane. If I don't stop at two, I won't stop, simple as that."

    "Simple as that?" Sheridan's mouth brushed against his neck with each word she spoke, and she could literally feel the quivering power of his restraint beneath her palms with the unthinking action.

    "Simple as that," Luis warned her again, his large hands cupping her hips as he gently, determinedly, pushed her away slightly.

    His eyes were intense as they roved her face, catalogued her reactions to him, and Sheridan saw shades of the old Luis standing before her, only the old Luis was the new Luis was the same Luis she'd known all along, fallen in love with along the way, and she felt herself tumbling impossibly further down that precipitous slope. She mercifully decided to inject a little more levity into the conversation, back them up a few steps and onto more solid, familiar ground. "I don't know about the best Italian, but I'm pretty sure there's a brand-new jar of spaghetti sauce in the cupboard." Her effort, thankfully, proved successful.

    Luis laughed, full and deep, kissed her forehead, and shed his dinner jacket as he headed for her kitchen.

    Shapely legs dangling from the counter, Sheridan watched him cook for her, his sleeves rolled up, the top two buttons of his shirt unbuttoned.

    The storm outside continued to roar and rumble, and lightning zigzagged in a sizzle of ozone across the evening sky, finally plunging the house into darkness and forcing them to share their meal by candlelight.

    Graceful fingers wound around the stem of her wine glass, Sheridan smiled at Luis as he moved around her kitchen, afterward, putting things away with a familiarity borne of years, recalled another night that seemed so long ago now, laughed with the retelling of it. "Do you remember that night, when you came over, and it looked like a spaghetti bomb had been set off in here?"

    Luis's teeth gleamed white in the lazy, wavering glow of the candlelight. "You were a mess, Emma was a mess. It took me hours to clean this place up."

    Sheridan laughed softly, but her eyes misted, her throat grew tight with a realization that wasn't new but still had the power to amaze her, each and every day, all over again. "Even when you hated me, you always took care of me, took care of Emma. I don't think I can ever repay you enough, Luis. You don't know how much it meant to me, still means to me," she said sincerely, tears blurring his beloved face as it loomed nearer. Still, she felt him, his solid, heavy presence, absorbed his heat, melted into the safety of his touch when his fingers caught her tears, soothed them away.

    "I never hated you, Sheridan," Luis told her, promised her. "The way you made me feel confused me, terrified me, and for the longest time, I tried everything I could to keep you at arms' distance. But nothing worked. Beth didn't work. Taking that job with the F.B.I. didn't work. Lying to myself didn't work."

    "Hank didn't work," Sheridan bit her lip as more tears threatened to spill free, streak down her smooth cheeks, as she admitted the part she'd played, reactionary or not, and she felt the familiar guilt start to close ranks on her, claim a little part of her soul again, but Luis pulled her back from that slippery slope, grounded her.

    "Hank knew the score, and he loved you anyway. He didn't blame you, Sheridan. He still doesn't. Me, on the other hand…we still have some issues to work through, but we're getting there."

    "I'm glad," Sheridan turned into Luis's touch, feathered a barely-there kiss against his palm, parted her legs instinctively as he stepped closer.

    "Me too."

    They stayed that way for a long while, silent, serious, pondering the what-if's. What if Hank hadn't objected, had hidden himself, had protected himself from the truth? What if he hadn't loved them both enough to let her go, give them another chance at the love staring them in the face? What if…what if?

    Luis's dark eyes glittered at Sheridan as her knees pressed into his sides, positively glowed with the truth he could no longer deny (no longer made any effort to), and she shivered involuntarily when one of his big hands drifted down to cover her knee, slid up the smooth, naked skin of her thigh, beneath the crimson skirt of the dress she wore.

    "Sheridan," Luis husked, meeting her shimmering gaze head on and dwelling there until Sheridan cleared her throat and laughed somewhat nervously, breathed out his name.

    "Luis."

    "Sheridan," he repeated, the hand cradling her jaw moving onwards, sliding through her golden hair as he continued to search her eyes.

    Sheridan fumbled behind her, nearly sent her half-full wine glass rolling across her kitchen countertop, placed one hand atop the hot hand blazing a lazy, teasing path higher and higher up her thigh, hooked the other one around his waist, grabbed onto his belt as an anchor. "I'm not usually so easy on a first date, Supercop," she whispered shakily, cheekily, before leaning forward and breaching the scant distance between them, kissing him once, twice, daring to kiss him again (the third time was, indeed, the charm).

    Luis groaned, slanted his mouth hard over hers, meeting the challenge of her seductive kiss stroke for stroke, his tenuous grasp of control snapping with her unspoken consent. With Herculean effort, he gentled his bruising kiss, covered her hands with his own when they released the clasp and tugged at his belt, pressed his face into her neck, slender and sweet and smelling of perfume, when they carefully (eagerly) eased his zipper down. "Crane," he warned, shuddered when his belt slid free, its metal buckle hitting the tile floor with a clang that made him grip her hands tighter, squeeze desperately, hold on. "Sheridan," he threaded his fingers through hers, reluctantly pulled them away. "We don't have to do this. You don't have to do this."

    Sheridan lifted their joined hands, guided them beneath her crimson skirt, placed them high on her thighs, interspersed little kisses around his temple, his earlobe, as she spoke, "I hope you don't mind if we save the dancing for another night, Supercop." Slowly, she drew back, met his fevered eyes, moistened her lips with her tongue. Sheridan smiled at him, scooted closer to the edge of the counter and snaked her confident hands beneath the waistband of his pants, welcomed him in the snug cradle of her thighs. Her blue eyes grew hazy with desire, her breathing uneven with barely controlled anticipation. "I'm asking you not to stop. Simple as that."

    Luis surged forward, and suddenly, his hands were everywhere (tracing her throbbing jugular, molding her breasts through the thin, silky material of her dress, shackling her wrists, cupping her there), marking their territory, claiming her in a different way than they had that cold January morning, heavy with tears and desperation borne of the fear of loss. There was desperation, still, tears, yes, but their frenzied efforts were compelled by a latent joy long-simmering beneath the surface.

    Sheridan laughed as she shoved his shirt roughly from his shoulders, cried out, smiled big and breathless and brilliant as he slid home, trembled in his arms as she flew apart, clung to him, kissed his brow as he found his own completion in her arms. Then she helped him clean the mess they'd made (red wine dripped from the kitchen counter onto the floor, would later stain her sheets).

    The storm had long passed, and lullabies had been sung to Emma (and goodnight said to Lucy) over the phone by the time they finally retired to her bed, upstairs (This is the bed where we're going to make our babies, he'd whispered in her ear, then kissed her until she was boneless, helpless beneath his sure hands). The house hummed with restored electricity, but the soft glow of candlelight illuminated them as they held each other, loved each other sweetly and slowly, basked in the open enjoyment of each other's company.

    After, Luis's fingers traced the interconnecting ridges of her delicate spine, dipped teasingly into the welcoming hollow at the small of her back, found the dimple at the curve of her rounded buttock before he blanketed her with his body, sought out her hand with his own, covered it as he rest his head beside hers on their shared pillow. His smile lit his handsome face, echoed in his voice, melted all the way down to his heart as he dropped a kiss onto her shoulder, teased her with his goading words. "If I'd known you were such a cheap date, Crane, I'd asked you out years ago."

    Sheridan's sleepy response was a half-hearted elbow to Luis's ribs, and a grumbling, muffled threat, meaningful and concise, filled with understanding humor. "Careful, Supercop."

    Luis laughed into her soft, tousled hair, wisely heeded her warning, let sleep and the landslide drag him down.
    The next morning, before he picked up Emma and Lucy, Luis stopped at the local jewelry store, picked out a pretty little diamond and slid it into his pants pocket. He didn't ask Sheridan to marry him on their second date, didn't even consider it on their third. Luis carried the ring with him always, for that right moment, that inevitable moment, that he knew would come.






    ~*~





    First, mistakes are all mine. If you see something completely distracting, please let me know. Typos are not my friends.

    Second, I hope you didn't mind this little smutty departure from the norm. Really, Sheridan was insistent, and when that lady gets an idea in her head...

    LOL!

    Really, Sheridan thought (and I thought too) that she and Luis needed a night of passion that didn't end in a morning of tears and heartbreak before this story was over, and I couldn't help but indulge her wishes.

    Hope it met your expectations.

    Only two chapters left, guys.

    I'm getting a little sniffly thinking about it.

    I am still contemplating writing those spin-off/companion stories that I mentioned earlier, though, and they'd offer little sneak peeks into Sheridan and Luis and Emma's lives after this story ends while focusing on other couples in this universe. Nobody's seemed too receptive to the idea yet, though, so I'm still on the fence. We'll see what happens when that day comes. I could definitely be persuaded, but I do have a lot of dangling WIPs that deserve their own (hopefully) happy endings.

    Remember, feedback is love!

    Thanks so much for reading!

  6. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~29~



    Title: Crystal Ball
    Rating: PG
    Warnings: slight language, UST and all the naughty thoughts that accompany it, lol.
    Characters/Pairings: Emma, Sheridan/Luis, mentions of past Beth/Luis, mentions of Sam and Grace
    Summary: prompt: candy. "Will you be my 'tend Daddy, Lu-wees? Just for Hall'ween?"





    ~*~


    Luis let himself inside Sheridan's house, grumbling underneath his breath (the stubborn, infuriating woman...did she ever listen?) when the door opened with barely a nudge from him. A curl of cold October air stole past him, making him shiver involuntarily and the flickering, crooked grin offered up by the pumpkin standing sentinel at the foot of the stairs directly in front of him to waver and wink. He still wore a slight scowl when Sheridan's musical voice startled him.

    "Don't take it personal, Jack-Jack. Supercop here hardly ever smiles."

    One black brow rose in near-exasperation as he tossed a look over his shoulder to the woman that had been the unapologetic pain in his ass for more than three years running. "Jack-Jack, Crane? Really?"

    Sheridan grinned back at him, her blue eyes twinkling and the dainty whiskers painted on her cheeks curling in her amusement. Her nose twitched at him as she took in his dour expression and the utilitarian brown uniform (that his magnificent muscles did wonders for, but still…) that he wore proudly as an officer in the Harmony P.D., and she shook her head lightly at him, taking her time responding to his baiting comment. "Emma's doing, not mine. Is that your costume? Because seriously…"

    Luis's dark eyes glittered at her blackly in challenge, roving boldly over her tight, cleavage-enhancing sweater, and the jeans snugly wrapped around her curves to great effect. He merely grinned back at her, wolfish and white teeth-baring, forgetting for a brief (but paradoxically all too long) moment the danger inherent in any open acknowledgment of the attraction that simmered and flared between him and this frustratingly engaging woman. Unbidden, the memory of what Beth had said to him, whispered in his ear as she had hugged him goodbye and broken things off with him for the final time last summer floated back to him, made his jaw tighten in indignation as he recognized a small (okay, bigger than that) amount of truth in it (You like her, Luis. You…more than like her. You can't hide from it forever, and I won't let you hide behind me and this relationship anymore. We didn't work before, and we won't work this time, not when you have feelings for another woman, feelings you won't admit to for Sheridan Crane). Luis had feelings for her alright, feelings of annoyance, feelings of frustration, feelings of…hell, he might as well admit it to himself, lust. That didn't mean he had to let her in on them, though. And he damned sure didn't need her making his insides tumble embarrassingly when she looked at him with that unbearable softness in her blue eyes. That said, he traded his own barbed defense to her question. "That yours?"

    Biting back a smile, Sheridan blithely ignored him (and the way her heart was thudding erratically inside her chest) as she brushed past him, mounting the stairs. "If you're going trick-or-treating with us," she trailed off in a put-upon sigh.

    Luis stifled a groan and jerked his guiltily entranced eyes away from her retreating backside. When he trusted his voice again, he called up to her, his voice rough with warning (and desperately disguised want?). "I'm not wearing a costume, Crane."

    "If you're going trick-or-treating with us," Sheridan's muffled voice repeated, called back down.

    Luis shook his head, unbuttoning the top buttons of his shirt as he walked into her living room, eased himself into the worn softness of her couch. Lucy watched him with large, hopeful brown eyes from across the room, her tail thudding quietly, pleadingly, against the floor. A shiny, velvet cape rest across the overgrown pup's sleek, lanky shoulders, and Luis felt an unwanted smile tugging at the corners of his mouth when the German shepherd whined at him. "Me too," he simply said, filled with the knowledge that Sheridan had him right where she wanted him, because there was really no conceivable way he could see himself denying Emma; Sheridan, maybe. Emma? Never. Luis didn't have too long to dwell and stew in the unwelcome revelation (that wasn't really a revelation), before he heard the excited scamper of little feet just seconds before a familiar curly head appeared around the corner.

    "Lu-wees!" Nestled in Emma's crown of haphazardly tamed honey curls was a sparkling headband bearing a set of fuzzy white feline ears. Her cute button nose twitched (oh so like her mama's) in her excitement, and the whiskers carefully drawn across her smooth, flushed cheeks wiggled with her beaming smile as she climbed into Luis's lap without invitation. "Me and Mama match," Emma proudly proclaimed.

    They were, in fact, worlds apart, with Emma soft and adorable (in what amounted to fuzzy footie pajamas) and Sheridan sinful and alluring (in what amounted to nothing more than her own skin, figuratively speaking, of course, and some face paint), but Luis didn't tell Emma that, didn't have the heart to. Instead, he fondly fingered a springy gold curl and agreed with her. "You do." The little girl's brilliant smile stretched even wider, showing off perfect, pearly little teeth, and Luis's decision was instantly validated. "Speaking of your mama," he combed Emma's curls over her small shoulders as he spoke, "where is she?"

    Emma shrugged and cuddled closer to Luis, tucking her curly head beneath his chin. She fit her tiny hand in his much, much larger one and admired her pink-polished nails.

    She sighed contentedly against him, and Luis felt some of his earlier tension melting away from him. Some of it remained, though, because the little girl in his arms was entirely too quiet and had become, in the span of a few short seconds, entirely un-Emma-like. He pressed a careful kiss to her fragrant curls and encouraged her to tell him what was (obviously, to him at least) bothering her. "You know you can tell me anything, right Emma-bug?"

    Emma shifted in his embrace, pulling back and nodding at him, biting her plump pink lip in indecision.

    "Anything," Luis reiterated, mindful of the approaching clatter of Sheridan's boots down the stairs. He waited for the child to speak, soothed the worried furrow from her brow with a tender thumb. "Emma," he softly said.

    Emma released her lip and blew out a nervous breath, tightened her fingers around Luis's hand and stared at him with bottomless blue eyes filled with longing, then blurted, "Will you be my 'tend Daddy, Lu-wees? Just for Hall'ween?"

    Luis caught just a glimpse of Sheridan's blue eyes, bright and glassy with moisture, before she quickly turned away, withdrew into the safety of the darkened foyer. He felt his throat tighten with answering emotion as he turned his focus back on the little girl sitting in his lap, acknowledged silently that maybe Beth had been right (but not completely, the stubborn voice inside his head railed) when he realized he didn't just want to comfort Emma, he wanted to do the same for her mother, and forced his voice into gruff steadiness. "If you'll be my pretend little girl."

    With his answer, Emma positively glowed. Throwing her short arms around Luis's neck, she squeezed, hard, and breathed her thanks into his ear before scooting from his lap and disappearing to the kitchen in search of her candy pail with an excited giggle.

    Sheridan's blue eyes still held a soft, shimmery sheen as she approached him long seconds later, when he'd had a chance to compose himself and she'd had a chance to do the same. Still, she had trouble meeting his eyes as she told him, "You didn't have to do that."

    Luis captured her smooth, trembling hand in his own, tugged her closer, compelled her to look at him, read the sincerity in his eyes as he unevenly replied, "I know. I wanted to."

    Tears fringed Sheridan's lowered lashes as she nodded and accepted his gesture of kindness, released a murmured, "Thank you." She smiled at him then, with gratitude, with beauty, with burgeoning apologetic amusement as he shook his head in denial.

    "I hope you don't think I'm wearing a matching set of those," Luis told her, indicating the sparkling headband of feline ears that crowned her own set of blond curls.

    Sheridan laughed, and the sound was still husky with unshed tears. "Worse, Supercop. Much worse."

    Luis felt his gut twist with dread, but not for all the expected reasons, because he could handle those, but the other reasons, the secret ones he wouldn't admit to, didn't dare give a name. "You think I'm scared of you, Crane?" Luis asked, rising and standing so close to her, he could feel the heat from her body licking at his clothes, desperate to touch his skin.

    Sheridan considered him, and the haughty twinkle in her blue eyes was almost Luis's undoing. "No," she finally said, soft as a whisper, "I don't think you're scared of me, Supercop." Before Luis had a chance to gloat, she hastened to add, "I think you're terrified."

    She stalked off without giving Luis a chance to say another sputtering word, and jaw dropped in amazement, Luis could do nothing more than watch her go (later, though…later, he'd have his payback).

    Lucy barked in loyal agreement, and her nails tapped against the floor as she hurried to join her girls where they were waiting (im)patiently in front of the door for Luis to get his act back together.

    "Lu-wees!" Emma bounced in place in her excitement. "Look what mama found for you!"

    The short walk down the street to Sam's and Grace's house seemed interminable to Luis (Zorro, Crane? Where the hell did you…). There were too many houses (not that many), too many laughing looks (admiring looks), too much candy (one little girl could not possibly eat all that). But it wasn't all bad. Emma's little hand was warm in Luis's, and her smile put the majestic moon to shame. And if some small part of him wished, deep down, that Emma's fantasy was indeed true…the moon wasn't telling, and neither was he.




    ~*~

    OMG!

    Another new chapter within a week! Shocking, isn't it?

    I'm both thrilled and saddened by this turn of events. Thrilled because it just, well, wrote itself (warts and all). Saddened because now there's only one new chapter left in the cards for this fic, and I'm taking it embarrassingly hard, even though I'm feeling kind of accomplished for the first time in a long, long time (as all my WIPs will attest).

    I hope everyone enjoys this chapter.

    Mistakes are all mine.

    Recognizable characters of Passions are not; I just thought I should make that clear since I'm terrible at remembering disclaimers. But you guys know that. Emma (and Spencer)? All mine.

    Feedback is love!

    Thanks so much for reading!

  7. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    ~30~





    Title: Feels Like Home
    Rating: PG-13
    Warnings: mentions of nekkidness, allusions to past sexual situations, slight language, all eventually leading to cotton candy fluff, lol.
    Characters/Pairings: Sheridan/Luis, Emma, Theresa, Gwen, Spencer, Pilar, Sam/Grace, Bennett girls, Miguel, Hank, heck…pretty much everyone that's made a notable appearance in this story, lol.
    Summary: prompt: circus. "Nobody ever said forever had to be boring, Crane."






    A faint, faraway noise drifted into Sheridan's consciousness, dragging her back from the warm darkness of an exhausted slumber, and she nuzzled her nose into the indentation of Luis's collarbone, dragged her lips across the juncture of his neck and strong shoulder before loosening her arm from its lazy clasp of his waist and shifting beneath the sheets tumbled carelessly at their waists.

    In his own lethargic state, Luis followed Sheridan effortlessly as she moved from his embrace, blanketed her naked back with his solid heat, muttered his own disgruntlement into her riot of disheveled blond curls as the noise grew more insistent, louder, and it became increasingly clear (with the slow climb into wakefulness and the splash of sunshine spilling golden across her bare shoulder, the generous peek-a-boo swell of her breast) it wasn't the product of a dream nor a hallucination prompted by a (happily) sleepless night. His lips formed the words against the silky, warm skin between her shoulder blades, and his long fingers curled around her hip, slipping beneath the elastic band of her underwear and resting there. "Someone's at the door."

    "They'll go away," Sheridan mumbled semi-coherently into her pillow.

    Luis's laugh rumbled close to Sheridan's ear, and half-inclined to believe her (wishful) claim, he pressed his lips to the nape of her neck in a kiss, nestled one knee between both of hers in a hopeless tangle of limbs. He groaned when the cell phone on the nightstand in front of Sheridan started to vibrate. Pressing her boneless body slightly into the mattress, he reached a long arm out, fumbled for the phone, cursed under his breath when his uncoordinated grasp sent a framed photograph (among other things) crashing to the floor and nearly toppled the bedside lamp. Through bleary eyes, he squinted, blinked, struggled to read the name on the screen while ignoring the one-eyed glare Sheridan favored him with (half asleep as he still was, it was impressive, truly).

    "Fantastic work, Detective," Sheridan muttered on a mock-beleaguered, fond sigh, taking the phone from him when it resumed its vibration. Her blue eyes widened with rediscovered alertness when she read the screen, and she scrambled from the bed, frantically searching for her clothes from the previous night. "Luis, get up," Sheridan hissed. "It's your sister."

    Luis pushed himself up on his elbows, slower to rouse and unconcerned with a simple phone call from his sister, even at such an early hour, but the knocking had stopped and, coincidentally, so had the phone's vibration, and that could really only mean one thing, on today of all days. Not to mention, Theresa had a key.

    Her bottom lip drawn fretfully between her teeth, Sheridan continued her fruitless hunt for her clothes. "She's early."

    "Or not," Luis told her, unable to disguise his grin when he came around the corner of the bed and crouched down to pick up Emma's 1st grade picture (with her two missing front teeth and curly braids), the baby monitor, and the small digital clock with its telling evidence of the late(r) hour. "It would appear we overslept."

    Sheridan covered her face with her hands, muffled a tiny scream as Luis slid his arms around her waist from behind, rest his chin on her shoulder, chuckled into her ear. His hand covered hers over the imperceptible (negligible, really) swell of her abdomen, then his fingers slid back up her arm, stopping to play with the new addition to the dangling charms on the silver bracelet wrapped around her wrist. "Luis," Sheridan groaned a protest. "This is not helping."

    "It's not?" Luis murmured into her ear, delighting in the shiver he felt travel through her body, all the way to the tips of her pretty, red-painted toes. Catching sight of his discarded black tee-shirt draped across the back of the headboard, he reached out and snagged it with his little finger, offered it to her. "I'll take care of Theresa. Take your time getting ready."

    Sheridan wore a tiny smirk when she turned around in his arms, looping her arms loosely around his waist. "Take my time, huh? That's a first."

    Luis kissed that obnoxious (endearing) smirk away, gave her a gentle push toward the bathroom (and her elusive clothes, strewn in an untidy little path toward the ancient claw foot tub she refused to let him replace, not that he really wanted to anymore, especially in light of last night). "Don't push your luck, Lopez-Fitzgerald. If I recall correctly, this three-ring circus wasn't all Theresa's idea."

    Her blue eyes twinkling with humor, Sheridan shook her head at him, folding her arms beneath her breasts. "Yet more proof that you aren't perfect." She let her smile reign free when her comment earned an indignantly raised brow from Luis (the still unbuttoned jeans he'd just pulled over his hips were competing mightily with that dark brow for her wavering attention) and waved him out of the room. "Give Emma a kiss good morning from me."

    Luis did give Emma that kiss good morning, and Sheridan did take her time. By the time Emma got her first glimpse of her mother, the house was filled with decorations of red, white, and blue and mouth-watering aromas. Emma burrowed into her mother's open arms, squeezed her as tightly as her (growing) little girl arms would allow. "Mama," she tipped her chin up in a beatific grin, "Aunt Theresa's letting me help with the cake."

    Out of the corner of her eye, Sheridan caught Luis's wink across the living room and her smile grew even wider. Rubbing a spot of flour away from the bridge of Emma's scrunched up nose, she laughed. "I can see that. Is there anything I can do to help?"

    Emma giggled and shook her head. "Nope. You're not allowed in the kitchen."

    "Says who?" Sheridan asked, shooting a suspicious look Luis's way.

    Luis, for his part, shrugged grandly, feigning innocence. The gesture was not without humor.

    "Says D-," Emma began, but the doorbell and Luis's hand on her small shoulder proved to be a timely distraction.

    Spencer waited on the other side of the door, bouncing from foot to foot in his excitement, his swim trunks hanging loosely from his skinny hips and his sun-streaked blond hair standing end on end from his nervous fingers' many forays through it in the interminable amount of time (seconds) it took Emma to answer his impatient summons.

    Gwen appeared behind her son, tendrils of her blond hair slipping free from her messy ponytail and flirting with the nape of her neck. An apology spilled from her lips as she followed Spencer inside, and she helpfully held the door open for Pilar as she hurried inside, her arms close to overflowing. "He woke me up at 7 this morning, already dressed and ready. I knew I should have let him spend the night with his father."

    "Gwen," Pilar acknowledged. "Mi hija," she paused long enough to kiss Sheridan's cheek on her way to the kitchen. When Luis offered to ease her burden, she merely shook her head, cast a long look over her shoulder. "The presents are still in the car."

    "Presents?" Emma's blue eyes widened hopefully.

    "One of them has your name on it, for you to open later," Pilar smiled warmly, causing Emma to squeal with happiness and throw her arms around her in a fierce hug, making her juggle a few things quite neatly in her arms and Sheridan to issue a light reprimand.

    "Emma," Sheridan chastised. "Be more careful."

    "Yes, Mama," Emma dutifully promised, releasing Pilar and beaming up at her. Focusing her attention back on her mother when Pilar disappeared into the kitchen, she poked out her bottom lip just the slightest little bit and asked, "Is it okay if I go show Spencer Jiminy?"

    Sheridan nodded easily. "Try not to make much noise though," she reminded.

    The cousins linked hands, and despite their earnest, well-intentioned promises, they all but stampeded up the stairs.

    "Jiminy?" Gwen quizzed, taking in Sheridan's flushed (glowing?) appearance with a critical, suspicious eye, but saying nothing, not yet at least.

    Her friend's open but silent scrutiny flustered Sheridan, and she was relieved when Luis appeared in the doorway just in time to answer for her, Sam and Grace hot on his heels.

    "Jiminy's the turtle Lucy unearthed in the back yard a couple of days ago."

    Grace's brows furrowed. "I thought Jiminy was a cricket."

    "Try telling that to our lovely daughter," Luis said easily, directing Sam toward the sun room and the smoldering grill just beyond its doors.

    "It still gets to you, every time you hear him say it, doesn't it?" Gwen's voice, low and knowing, spoke just over Sheridan's shoulder when Luis and Sam were long out of sight and Grace had joined the Lopez-Fitzgerald women in the bustling kitchen. The front door hadn't even had a chance to close completely before it was being pushed open again, and Gwen lost all train of thought with embarrassing ease and quickness when Hank stuck his head inside.

    He rapped his knuckles lightly against the door and grinned at the two women standing, staring, speechless just inside. His brown eyes softened with affection as they lit on Sheridan. "Hey, Beautiful. Care if I crash the party? I bring beer," he bargained.

    Gwen's lips twitched as she took in his charmingly rumpled appearance, from his mop of brown hair to the pirate-print swim trunks and their scary resemblance to those belonging to her seven-year-old son. "It's not that kind of a party, Bennett."

    "It's the 4th of July, Blondie," Hank rejoined. "Of course it is," he decried in good humor, circling his arms around Sheridan and hugging her briefly before letting her go, giving her a questioning once-over. "I don't know what it is," he said, a slow grin stealing over his face, "but you're looking especially pretty today. Something's different about you."

    "I thought so, too." Gwen nodded in agreement, causing Sheridan to laugh nervously.

    "Don't be silly," Sheridan fingered the charms on her bracelet nervously. "I'm the same old me, operating on minimal sleep and barred from my own kitchen."

    "Yep," Kay parroted over her uncle's shoulder. "Same old Sheridan."

    "Kay," Jessica warned.

    Miguel simply offered up a pink-cheeked smile behind the two Bennett sisters.

    "Now you're just ganging up on me."

    The teasing continued from there, as did the onslaught of guests, and it truly was a spectacle to behold, with friends and family in every nook, cranny, and corner of the house, spilling out into the back yard where children ran wild, shrieking with giddy laughter.

    Her hands tucked around her knees, Sheridan watched it all from the sun-room steps, drank every magical detail in, a carefree smile on her face. Lucy dozed peacefully beside her, and from time to time, Sheridan would reach a hand out to scratch lazily between the dog's ears, if only to hear the content thump of her tail, because as silly as it seemed to think the thought, much less ponder saying it aloud, she felt just like her (Lucy): content, peaceful, secure in the knowledge that she was surrounded by people that loved her, people she loved. None paralleled the handsome man currently sending a smile Sheridan's way, though. She waved somewhat shyly to Luis, watched him settle Emma and Spencer down at one of the picnic tables lining the far reaches of the green (along with Quinlan's youngest) in front of a juicy wedge of watermelon, and her fingers returned to toy with the delicate silver charms around her wrist. The French doors opening behind her, and the singsong quality of Theresa's voice startled her from her reverie, though, and the smile on her face stretched impossibly wider at the sight that greeted her.

    "Look who finally decided to join the party."

    A pair of drowsy, crystal blue eyes blinked down at Sheridan, clearing as they recognized her, and the chubby little fist that had clenched Theresa's collar relaxed, reaching for her, beckoning her. "Mama."

    Sheridan stood, dusting off the seat of her denim shorts, and had no sooner opened her arms than she found them filled with the warm, soul-aching weight of her still-sleepy little son. Combing her fingers through the thick, dark wave of his hair, she looked to Theresa, a question poised on her lips, and quickly found her answer without a word from the younger woman when Ethan momentarily appeared behind her, a similarly tuckered-out little bundle safely ensconced in his careful arms.

    "Looks like Mama wasn't the only one who had a late night," Theresa gently teased, giggling girlishly at the light blush that stained Sheridan's cheeks with her all-too apt comment.

    Her son sighed in agreement, and Sheridan could only laugh guiltily. Skillfully changing the subject, she asked, "How's that cake coming along?"

    "Mama and Grace are putting the finishing touches on it," Theresa replied, generously playing along. "Ethan and I just wanted to make sure the guests of honor didn't miss anything. Right, Ethan?"

    "Right," Ethan responded with a boyish grin. Kissing the crop of auburn curls tucked beneath his chin, he rubbed his little cousin's back and warned, "Time to rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty. Your admirers approach."

    Hank arrived first. "Luke Skywalker! Bizzy B!" Tugging at Luke's tiny brown toes, he confiscated the little boy from Sheridan's arms, lifting him high overhead and earning a reserved giggle or two as they weaved their way in and around the crowd playing Hank's preferred game (airplane, of course).

    Jessica merely had to open her arms, and Isabella went willingly, her whiskey-colored eyes lighting up with pleasure.

    Finding herself empty-handed again, Sheridan's hand and her thoughts drifted (You're late, Lopez-Fitzgerald…Yes, Detective, I am), and she failed to realize she was distractedly rubbing her abdomen until Kay's concerned voice broke through her hazy thoughts.

    "Are you sure you're feeling okay? You've been acting spacey all day." Kay didn't give Sheridan time to answer, grabbing her by the arm and tugging her out of the way when Pilar and Grace appeared with the cake, twin spirals of smoke curling up from the two candles it held. "Emma wasn't exaggerating. That thing is huge," Kay proclaimed, her unanswered question forgotten in her distraction. "I'm calling a corner piece right now."

    "What is she? Ten?" Gwen asked, tucking a flyaway strand of blond behind her ear as she came to stand beside Sheridan. "It must be genetic," she decided, shaking her head with a helpless smile as she watched her son chase Hank through the sprinklers, poor little Luke barely escaping a drenching when Luis, thankfully, swooped in to rescue him. "Think that secret little parasite you're carrying will let you enjoy a piece of cake?"

    Sheridan turned shocked blue eyes on her smirking friend. "Gwen!" she hissed, almost squeezing the feeling out of Gwen's hand.

    "Relax. I'm not going to tell anybody now that I know," Gwen promised, flexing and straightening her fingers to restore the circulation. "A word of advice, though. If you really don't want anybody to know, don't fidget with that damned bracelet anymore and stop rubbing your stomach like it's a magic lantern."

    Sheridan choked back a laugh and elbowed Gwen in the ribs, a muttered warning delivered under her breath. "Call my baby a parasite again, and I won't be held responsible for my actions."

    Gwen elbowed Sheridan back (gently, of course) and laughed, loudly, drawing the attention of Quinlan, a bunch of other guys from the station, and naturally, Luis. Gwen smiled broadly and gave Luis a reassuring wave. A beat later, her smile softened with genuine affection as she told Sheridan, "You know, I really had him pegged all wrong in the beginning."

    "So did I," Sheridan murmured in agreement as Emma's cheerful voice called out to her.

    "Mama! Hurry up! It's time to sing Happy Birthday."

    "Yeah, Lopez-Fitzgerald," Luis's smile was full of equal parts pride, all-knowing arrogance, and love as he teased her. "Don't make us wait all day." Water dripped from Emma's honey curls, soaking the front of Luis's tee-shirt, but he paid it no mind, wrapping a strong arm around her small shoulders and pulling her into his sheltering embrace as they waited for Sheridan to join them.

    "Shouldn't there be four candles?" Emma asked, chewing thoughtfully on her bottom lip as Sam snatched a gleefully fleeing Isabella into his arms, passing her over to her father.

    "No, no, no, no!" Isabella kicked her feet out in stubborn defiance, shook her head in a cascade of auburn curls, and generally refused to be still as Luis set her in the booster seat beside her brother, who stared, transfixed, at the flickering candles before him. Squirming in her seat and reaching for Sheridan when she moved to stand behind her, the tiny girl pleaded her case with an astonishingly familiar pout of her pink lips. "Down, Mama," she insisted, slapping her little hand down resolutely (by happy coincidence, into the cake) and emphatically. "Me want down!"

    A wave of laughter rolled through the gathered guests when the little girl withdrew her hand, spread her tiny fingers out in fleeting terror at the sticky sweetness coating them, then, evidently deciding the cake wouldn't launch a counterattack, dug her hand back into it before Sheridan or Luis could stop her. Her shriek of delighted laughter even had Pilar fighting a smile, but it wasn't much of a laughing matter for her hapless twin, who ended up with a fistful of icing smeared down the side of his face while Theresa hurried them all through an abbreviated, mirth-filled rendition of Happy Birthday.

    "I wanted a piece of that cake," Kay sighed as Luke joined in on the fun, more in the interest of self-defense than any real desire for destruction once the candles had been extinguished, and plowed both of his little hands into the cake, smiling and mimicking his sister (much to Sheridan and Luis's chagrin).

    "Not quite what you signed up for, huh Detective?" Sheridan grinned at Luis as he gently thumbed away icing from her cheek and gazed into her twinkling eyes.

    Luis lifted her hand, kissed the thrumming pulse on the inside of her slender wrist, nuzzled her palm as it slid across his chin to cup his cheek, and smirked. "Nobody ever said forever had to be boring, Crane," he said, the old nickname falling from his lips without thought.

    "Daddy, it's Lopez-Fitzgerald now," Emma pointedly reminded him.

    "You, Sir," Sheridan told him, with blue eyes grown suspiciously moist as she gazed at their little girl, at the babies he'd promised her that night which seemed so very long ago now, "stand corrected."

    "That I do," Luis agreed, laughed into her adoring smile as he kissed her, gathered her close. "That I do."







    ~*~



    So?

    Thoughts? Comments? Crickets?

    LOL!

    Mistakes are all mine, and probably plentiful considering I'm posting this at 2 a.m. my time (because I just couldn't wait). Let me know if there are any glaring ones. I tried to do a quick read-through, but I'm only human.

    I know this last chapter jumped ahead quite a bit, but that was always my intention. Maybe not quite to the extent that it did, but still...

    It's been quite a ride.

    Thanks to everyone that's taken it with me, Sher, and our gal Emma.

    You might notice I've not marked this story complete; that's not because it isn't complete. It is, in a manner of speaking, but I have a little surprise in store for you guys that I hope you might like, so stay tuned for end credits and bonus material that didn't make the original cut of the story.

    Anything in particular, in any chapter, that you wanted to read more about? Tell me. I can't make promises, but I'll see what I can do to satisfy your curiosity. They won't be full chapters; more like deleted scenes of a DVD, in this case, a fanfic.

    Get those requests in.

    And, in the meantime, I'd appreciate your input on something else. I've mentioned this before, but some of you might not have seen it, considering I first mentioned it in the reviews section.

    I've long considered doing at least one, up to two or three, companion stories to this fic, where I tell the love stories of some of the other couples in this story. These stories would retell some aspects of this one, but from the points of view of different characters involved, say Miguel and Kay, for example.

    Is anybody interested in reading those?

    Or is this something I need to put on the backburner while I attempt to finish some of my other stories (I say attempt, lol, because whether I write the companion fics or not, I inevitably have new ideas pop up at the most inopportune times, and when I'm blocked on my other fics, I go with what comes easy)?

    Your feedback is much desired.

    Thanks so very, very much for reading!

  8. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Posts
    489

    Post Re: Pieces of My Heart

    As you guys have probably already figured out, the titles for each chapter of Pieces of My Heart came from my music library.

    Some were direct sources of inspiration, others were simply picked randomly because I liked the title, and the chapters blossomed from there.

    Obviously, I don't own any of the songs, and I'm not making any profit from them or the characters from Passions in this fanfiction. But I wanted to give credit where credit is due, and while I don't know all the songwriters, I can give a shout-out to the artists performing them.

    I'm also going to be posting the short synopsis of the chapters in chronological order (along with their original chapter number) for the first time, just in case you wanted to go back and read Sheridan's and Luis's and Emma's story from the beginning in a more linear fashion. I wasn't too sure about the non-linear format when I started the story myself, but I have to say, I really grew to enjoy it. I hope you did, too.

    The chapter titles for each section of the credits are lifted from my music library as well, each of them being a song that made me think of Sheridan and Luis in this story and provided additional inspiration to keep writing this story.

    At the end of each page of credits will be the artists' names so you can go check the songs out if you haven't already heard them.

    There also, maybe, possibly, might be a few little surprises included in here as well. Think deleted scenes, bonus material, the fanfiction equivalent of DVD easter eggs. It's all unrated, so take that as you will.

    Just thought I might give you fair warning.
    Without further ado, roll credits!





    ~*~




    1. (~5~)
    Title: Love Comes
    Rating: G
    Warnings: none, that I can think of
    Characters/Pairings: mentions of Sheridan/Other, Sheridan, Eve, brief mentions of Gwen, Ethan, Luis
    Summary: prompt: gloves. It seemed Jean-Luc had left behind more than just the knowledge that another man had used her for his own nefarious purposes, exploited the family name.
    Author's Notes: the title for this chapter comes from a song by The Posies. I confess, this is one of those chapter titles I picked randomly. I wanted something that spoke to the transformation involved when a child comes into someone's life, how it can change your priorities and mindset. While not a parent myself, I would think that love of a child, any child, definitely changes you. Even if it's unexpected (which it often can be). At any rate, I think this title works, because Sheridan may not have planned for Emma, but she came along, and so did Sheridan's love for her. See? Jean-Luc was good for something, lol. At least in my Passions-verse.





    ~*~





    2. (~1~)
    Title: Accidental Babies
    Rating: PG
    Warnings: mild swearing
    Characters/Pairings: past Sheridan/Other, pre-Sheridan/Luis
    Summary: prompt: pregnancy test. "You're late."
    Author's Notes: I borrowed this title from a song by Damien Rice. The song is actually about a totally different situation between two quite tortured-sounding lovers (lol), and it's really pretty depressing, but you guys should know by now that I love angst, at least good angst. Trust me. There's good angst, and then there's bad angst. Anyway, the actual content of the song doesn't tie in to this chapter, but its title most certainly does. After all, it was the whole idea of Sheridan having one of those accidental babies and Luis falling in love first with said baby and eventually Sheridan herself that inspired this entire story in the first place. I think it worked out pretty well, don't you?




    ~*~




    Luis finds out…

    "Crane," Luis grit out her name distastefully.

    Sheridan froze in place, her blue eyes snapping up to meet Theresa's startled brown eyes on the other side of the cart they were currently filling up with a variety of athletic equipment left behind in the departing children's wake. "Yes?" she answered, not bothering to turn her head, meet Luis's eyes (if she had, she'd have seen that they were dark, dangerous, daring her to defy him). "Drill Sergeant," she muttered beneath her breath a half-second later.

    Theresa choked back a giggle, biting her lip as she tucked a heavy dark strand of hair behind her ear and snuck another glance at Sheridan with admiring, dancing doe eyes.

    "Crane," Luis repeated, his tone heavy with warning. "My office. Now."

    "I'm being summoned," Sheridan barely suppressed a sigh.

    "I'll finish up here," Theresa offered, unable to resist a parting smile as Sheridan turned to go, bravely prepared to meet her unknown fate head on.

    Sheridan entered Luis's office to find him standing behind his desk, his back to her, and recognizing the anger in his rigid stance, she wisely shut the door on Theresa's (helplessly, hopelessly) curious, listening ears. Resigning herself to the inevitable, she ventured forth with a singularly (deceptively) simple question, "What did I do now?" Sheridan nearly jumped out of her skin when Luis whirled around with barely any warning, slapping a small, crinkle-edged piece of paper onto his desk.

    "What the hell is this?" Luis demanded.

    Sheridan's heart leapt into her throat, pounding furiously away as she recognized the paper for what it was, her latest, misplaced sonogram (that she had searched the entire cottage for just this morning, without any luck, and no wonder…it had been here all along). Thinking fast, she answered him with defensive sarcasm. "You're the aspiring detective, Supercop. You tell me." Her trembling fingers gripped the edge of the desk (when had she crossed the room?), and she willed herself to breathe normally, hell, to breathe at all, under his unflinching, silent glare.

    Luis's dark eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched, momentarily, before he snapped, "I know what it is."

    Lifting her shoulders in a shrug and her chin in willful defiance, Sheridan's met Luis's gaze, her blue eyes glittering at him in challenge. "You asked." Her fingers relaxed, crept closer to the paper. They recoiled when Luis snatched it up, withdrew into a small, tight fist at her side as he glowered at her, moved around the desk, invaded her personal space.

    "I want to know whose it is," Luis told her.

    Unconsciously, Sheridan took a distancing step backward. "I don't think that's any of your business." Her eyes shied away from him, and her hand itched to settle protectively on her abdomen.

    "If one of those girls out there is in trouble, it is my business," Luis insisted. "Their parents entrusted them to my care, your care. If…"

    Sheridan cut him off. "You're not responsible, Luis. Surely you know that." She couldn't tell which part of her statement had thrown him more off-balance—the part where she'd used his given name or the part where she'd released him from any expectations of culpability. Either way, she'd stunned him into silence, and he was looking at her with new eyes, searching eyes, eyes that slowly drifted downward, darted over the slight(est) curve of her previously flat belly and lingered. When he began speaking again, more softly and without as much heat, Sheridan mentally cursed his perceptive nature (with his investigative skills, there was no denying he was going to be a hell of a detective someday) and found herself powerless to look away.

    "If someone were in trouble, I'd want them to know I'd be there, if they needed me. All they'd have to do is ask." Luis set the piece of paper back down on the desk, swept his thumb over the grainy image in an almost caress, pushed it closer to her, until a tattered, well-worn corner brushed against her arm, made her shiver involuntarily.

    Sheridan swallowed past the lump lodged in her throat, past her still swelling, stumbling heart, and nodded. "Good to know," she murmured. "Is there anything else you needed?"

    Luis considered her for a long moment before withdrawing from her side, returning to stand behind his desk, palming his keys. "No. Nothing else. I'll lock up here. Tell Theresa to leave the rest of the equipment for tomorrow."

    "I can put it up."

    "There's no overtime in community service, Crane," Luis answered her. "At least as far as I'm concerned, there's not," he amended. "Go home. It'll still be here when you come back tomorrow."

    "Supercop," Sheridan couldn't help but smile. "Are you…dare I say it…is this you trying to be nice to me?"

    "Don't be delusional, Crane," Luis grumbled. "This is me tellingyou to go home, nothing more. Not that it is any of your business, but an old family friend is in town and Mama's cooking him dinner. The longer you stand there…" he trailed off meaningfully. "Go home."

    "I think I will," Sheridan said, subtly removing the sonogram from the desk and pushing it into her jeans pocket when (she thought) Luis wasn't looking.

    "Finally," Luis rolled his eyes, holding the office door open for her as she preceded him through it. "Theresa! You ready?"

    Theresa joined them as they walked toward the Youth Center's exit, her happy chatter echoing off of the empty walls as her brother turned off all the lights, shut everything down. "I've been thinking."

    On the other side of Theresa, Luis groaned, and Sheridan ducked her head to hide her smile as the teen started to plead her case.

    "We should have a party, here at the Youth Center. We haven't had one in ages, and Sheridan doesn't know that many people here in Harmony." Theresa paused briefly to take a replenishing breath, then continued, "She needs to meet more people if she's going to stay, and I thought…"

    "You'll use any excuse, won't you?" Luis sighed, resigned to his fate (he really didn't like that word, just the mere thought that his choices weren't his own…).

    Theresa's brown eyes widened (with innocence?) as she defended herself. "It's not an excuse, Luis."

    "It's not?" Luis echoed with a tiny smile, hurrying to avert his gaze when he realized he'd caught Sheridan's sparkling blue stare. "I guess it's not a terrible idea," he relented reluctantly.

    "Oh, Luis," Theresa grabbed her brother's arm excitedly. "It's not a terrible idea at all. It's a wonderful idea. We can invite everyone we know, introduce them to Sheridan, have food and music and dancing."

    "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Luis tried (failed) to be the voice of reason as they paused, as a group, in front of Sheridan's car. He raised a brow at Sheridan when he realized, for the first time, that it wasn't the same vehicle that had crashed into his police jeep (twice!)—it was sturdy, sensible, still (impossibly) stylish, safe. Luis silently berated himself for not noticing (the clues) sooner and gently pushed his babbling teenaged sister toward their own waiting vehicle with a warning. "We're already running late as it is."

    "Bye, Sheridan," Theresa waved. "We'll talk more about the party tomorrow," she promised.

    Rubbing a calming hand over his face, Luis looked at Sheridan over the top of the car's newly open door and offered a few, (un)necessary words in explanation. "She dreams big."

    Sheridan's lips twitched with the urge to smile. Somehow, she refrained. "It's the only way to dream." Lowering herself to the supple leather seat below, she pulled the seat belt across her shoulders, cinched it carefully over her hips, and watched him, waited for him to say more. When he didn't, merely remained silent, she lowered her voice, teased him, "I trust you won't abuse your privileges as a member of the Harmony Police Department to make it home, Supercop. The law is the law." A laugh spilled from her lips as Luis cut off anything else she might have said by giving her door a tiny, intent shove. She rolled her window down in time to catch his parting words as he took his leave of her, on his way to join his sister in the jeep.

    "Doors open at 3:00 tomorrow, Crane. Don't be late."

    Sheridan went home, tucked the sonogram picture in a safe place in the corner of a little picture frame holding a blurred, nearly forgotten image of her mother in the Crane gardens, and curled up on the overstuffed sofa with a book in her hands. She slept, peacefully, until morning, and at the appointed hour, she found herself seemingly the only person in the Youth Center when the first children pushed their way through its doors.

    Theresa waved to her when she saw her, leaving her best friend's side, and holding out a folded sheet of paper. "Luis wanted me to give you this."

    A man Sheridan vaguely recognized as Sam Bennett, Chief of the Harmony Police Department, approached her with a reserved smile on his face.

    "I hope you don't mind dealing with me today," Chief Bennett said pleasantly. "My brother's in town, and he and Luis are good friends. I volunteered to supervise you and the kids for the rest of the evening to give the two of them more time to catch up."

    Pushing back an inexplicable swell of disappointment, Sheridan gave him a bright smile in response. "I don't mind at all. Did you have anything in mind for me to do today?"

    Sam grinned at her, and the familiar teen still standing by her side. "Theresa tells me you two have a party to plan. Other than that? Nothing."

    Her fingers still clasping the folded note tightly, Sheridan nodded at him in response and glanced over at Theresa. "Let me put my things up in the office, and I'll be right there."

    "Whit and I'll be waiting," Theresa pledged.

    When Sheridan came back, she held a well-loved, comfortably shabby teddy bear with faded, friendly eyes in her hands and wore a soft, mystified smile. "I found him on the desk, wearing a post-it note with my name on it," she said by way of explanation when the girls looked to her for answers.

    Theresa's dark eyes sparkled with suspicion as her fingers combed through the bear's soft fur. "My brother's had Buttons for as long as I can remember. I wonder why…"

    Easily reading Sheridan's discomfort with Theresa's line of questioning, Whitney took the sparkly pen away from her friend's hand and pressed the tip to the pad of paper resting on her knees. "If we're going to have this party next week, Theresa, we don't have much time," she reminded. "Who do you want to invite?"

    So distracted, Theresa didn't notice the grateful smile Sheridan sent Whitney's way, and her hair fell over Whitney's slim shoulder as she leaned in for closer inspection as the other girl scribbled neatly away. "That's easy, Silly. Everybody."

    Whitney sighed and cast her eyes heavenward, causing Sheridan to smother down a laugh. "Let me make this easier. Who do you not want to invite?"

    Theresa's dark hair tumbled over her shoulders as she bit her lip, returned her attention back to Sheridan. "Sheridan, what do you think?"

    But Sheridan was distracted, cuddling Buttons close and wearing that same soft smile from earlier.

    Theresa's gaze pivoted back to Whitney, and she shrugged her slender shoulders. "I still think we should invite everybody. Luis isn't here to say no."

    There'd be other teddy bears, stuffed animals galore, more dolls than any one little girl could ever play with (what good's an empty dollhouse Ethan would argue in his defense), even a curious, trouble-magnet, aptly named dog (Lucy, you've got some explaining to do), but Buttons? Buttons was special and would forever remain so, in Sheridan's eyes and most definitely those of her daughter.

    Buttons was the first little piece of Luis's heart gifted to them both; he wouldn't be the last.


    XXX



    They dance…

    "You don't have to eat that."

    Sheridan lifted hopeful blue eyes to Luis's darkly handsome face, and the fork in her hand (picking at and pushing the healthy-sized wedge of a deceptively appealing piece of cake around the edges of her plate) stilled. Her mouth acted without her permission, as it so often did in Luis's presence, and she blurted, "I don't?"

    A smile threatened on Luis's lips, but he tamped it down.

    Glancing around the Youth Center brimming full of the good people of Harmony (everyone Theresa knew and loved, anyway), finding Grace Bennett a few feet away, still wearing that same friendly, welcoming smile, Sheridan bit her lip again, before sighing miserably. "I don't want to hurt her feelings. She's so…nice. And the cake looks good. It's just…Tomato Soup Cake? Really? It sounds, it sounds, you know what it sounds like. Help me out here, Supercop," Sheridan pleaded, feeling (and looking) a little green around the gills.

    Luis's dark eyes sparkled with humor as he grabbed a napkin from the table behind them and carefully wrapped the cake inside it. "Careful, Crane, or you're going to let everybody in on your little secret." He returned to her side after disposing of the cake and her plate, a plastic red cup in hand, offered it to her. "Sip this, and try breathing through your nose," he advised. He watched as color gradually returned to her cheekbones and felt himself relax a little bit when he saw a little bit of the fire return to her blue eyes when they drifted open to catch him in the act.

    "Take a picture," Sheridan muttered. "It'll last longer." Taking another long sip from the cup in her hand (she wondered who had brought ginger-ale to the party, mentally thanked them), she looked again at the people gathered around them, laughing and having a good time, some of them even dancing, and decided a simple measure of gratitude was only right. "Thanks."

    Clearly uncomfortable with her being agreeable in any shape or form, Luis shook his head, his eyes resolutely on the partygoers and not her. "Thank Theresa for the party, not me."

    "I have," Sheridan softly said. "I will." Turning to face his profile, she set her cup down on the table, gazed at him thoughtfully. "I wasn't talking about the party."

    Feeling her eyes on him, Luis swallowed down any number of smart-assed, needling retorts with extreme difficulty (he'd never been the type to pull a girl's hair before, but with her, it seemed he damned sure couldn't help himself; the urge was borderline instinctual), cleared his throat, and simply nodded in acknowledgment. Veering dangerously into personal territory, he couldn't stop himself from asking a question that had been weighing heavily upon his mind, "Does the father know?" When Sheridan took an inordinately long time to respond to his question, he turned to her, remorse in his dark eyes, apologies on his lips as the blue of her eyes dimmed. "None of my business. Forget I asked."

    Sheridan finally answered him with a vague dismissal, "The father isn't in the picture."

    Personal demons, a deep sense of longing for the return of his own father, compelled Luis to stubbornly continue, "A child deserves…" He trailed off when Sheridan's blue eyes flashed at him, with indignation, with renewed fire, with a deep-seeded hurt. Raking an agitated hand through his spiky dark hair, he felt his own passion on the subject recede a little bit. He wasn't spoiling for a fight, not when she looked like one of the walking wounded, and he told her so, in not so many words. "Look, it's not my place."

    "It isn't," Sheridan quietly agreed.

    Theresa appeared before them, then, shifting the tense moment (shattering it), with her youthful exuberance, "Ethan says you know how to tango." Grabbing her brother's hand in her own and ignoring his groan, she revealed, "So does Luis."

    "Theresa," Luis grit out in warning, both at her suggestion and the revelation that she was blatantly disregarding his orders to leave Ethan Crane the hell alone (her crush was already insufferable as it was).

    Theresa turned her large dark eyes upon the more sympathetic member of her audience and pleaded, "Dance for us, just once."

    Loathe to disappoint the younger girl, but equally loathe to throw fuel on the fire to a building awareness that had no place in her life right now, an attraction she was only just beginning to realize she couldn't fight or deny, Sheridan hedged, "Theresa, I don't know." She cast conflicted blue eyes in Luis's direction, helplessly seeking direction in how to let his sister down easily. Thankfully, he came to her rescue, though his excuse left something to be desired, and launched Sheridan into another, even more awkward position.

    "The Tomato Soup Cake's not sitting too well on her stomach."

    Theresa's dark eyes rounded with sympathy, but she couldn't help releasing a disheartened little, "Oh."

    Wanting a little bit of payback and to ease the girl's disappointment, Sheridan found herself offering, "Maybe something a little slower. What do you think, Supercop?"

    "Something slower," Luis acquiesced reluctantly, his dark eyes glaring at her even as his lips stretched into a tightly, uncomfortable smile. Knowing Theresa as he did, he warned her, "But don't you be getting any ideas. Nothing too slow."

    Theresa's eyes sparkled as she answered her brother, thoroughly enjoying watching him squirm. "Nothing romantic. Got it."

    Sheridan laughed, slipped her hand in Luis's much larger one, and gave it a tug. When he didn't budge, she made him a teasing promise, "I only bite when asked."

    Luis's eyes darkened further still and a hint of a smile curled his lips as he let himself be drawn into her silky web. "I'll keep that in mind, Crane." He couldn't help himself; he grinned at her delighted reaction, settled his free hand low on her still-slim waist. He let the music dictate his movements, forgot all about the eyes watching them so intently, soon found himself drowning in Sheridan's rapt blue gaze instead, absorbed into the warmth of her light embrace. Relaxing further in her arms, he leaned his cheek against her soft, fragrant hair, whispered into her ear (steadfastly ignored her answering shiver and its implications for the both of them), "I didn't mean to step on your toes earlier. The life you give your baby is your decision. Not mine."

    Sheridan's fingers tightened in the soft cotton of his tee-shirt, and her voice grew low and husky with held-in emotion, so only Luis might hear her. "A child deserves to know a good man in its life." Leaning back so that she might look into, search, his dark eyes, she told Luis, her words rich with meaning, "I think I have that part covered."

    "Crane," Luis grasped at the hand that slipped like water through his own. When Sheridan turned back, stared at him for a long, wordless minute, he could settle only for a weak, "The song's not finished."

    Sheridan dared him to speak words that were too soon, too much, too everything for two people who barely knew each other, were only learning how to tolerate each other, were at complete odds with what they were supposed to feel for each other, and she smiled when she realized he was fighting it (what they had the potential to become, the possibilities of what they might have been, had there not been bad blood, mistrust, history echoed in his unwavering brown gaze, had there not been a child, still a closely guarded secret in her womb), just as hard as she. "I owe you one, Supercop. Tell Theresa (thank you, sorry, goodbye) for me?"

    Luis nodded, not trusting himself to speak in that moment, and watched her slip, unnoticed, through the crowd, through the Youth Center's doors.

    He would collect on that promise, many times in many places, over the next several years, committing each and every dance (sexy sambas, seductive tangos, sweet slow dances) with her to memory, but one would stand above all others, one would be his most cherished.

    Luis would never forget that first dance as husband and wife, as a family, Emma pressed between them, one little arm wound tightly about his neck (her shimmering skirt draped across his arm), the other resting on her mama's shoulder (Mama, Emma would protest, when the music had stopped and still they swayed, lost in the past, lost in a thousand and one moments of could have been's finally finding peace in the open acceptance of all that they were to each other, would be, the song's finished).

    "Patience, Emma-bug," Sheridan smiled in answer, "a new song is just about to start."



    ~*~



    3. (~4~)
    Title: Fairy Tales and Castles
    Rating: G
    Warnings: cotton-candy fluff count? Nah? None, then.
    Characters/Pairings: pre-Sheridan/Luis, Pilar, one-sided Theresa/Ethan
    Summary: prompt: puppy love. They were dealing with one of the most expansive cases of puppy love she'd ever seen, and Theresa, with her wide open heart and head filled with dreams, would be too easily hurt, even with the most innocent of intentions gone wrong.
    Author's Notes: I knew what this chapter was going to be about even before I chose the title, and that it was going to feature Theresa and address, in some small way, her crush on Ethan. Theresa, with her crush and all her life goals still intact? Cute. Theresa with Ethan being her sole life goal? Not so much. It didn't hurt that fairy tales and castles were exactly what Sheridan would want to give her own daughter, especially in light of her troubled childhood and the lack of love lavished on her. Still, reality, in my opinion, is better, and I think Sheridan would want to give her child a healthy mix of the two. It only made sense for her to strike out on her own, then, and leave her old lifestyle behind for a new beginning. The song? Is by Lifehouse.



    ~*~



    How Emma gets her name…

    "My brother," Theresa feigned a loud sigh as she crammed her books into her backpack, struggled to zip it closed, "always such a spoilsport, never has any fun."

    Without looking up from his desk, Luis let his voice rise in slight warning, "Theresa."

    "Luis," Theresa returned, tucking her heavy hair behind her ears, glanced at Jessica, Kay, and Miguel as they walked by the open office door and waved them off (Whitney had already skipped out early for tennis practice). "It was just a game, Luis. You were the only one who didn't play."

    "Checkers is a game, Theresa," Luis finally looked up, met her intent dark eyes. "Monopoly is a game. Picking out a name for Crane's baby…"

    "…was just a little something to make her smile," Theresa finished for him (with more maturity than Luis had previously given her credit for).

    Of their own volition, Luis's eyes were drawn to Sheridan's lonesome (but not alone) figure, putting away equipment with a couple of the more helpful kids. Every so often, her hand would stray to her back, rub at the protesting muscles there. Luis's own hands tightened into closed fists to quell the sudden, inexplicable urge to ease her discomfort, and the expression on his face softened into resignation (his sister's intentions always started from a place of good, no matter their outcome) as he looked up to Theresa, past the jar containing two dozen or more scraps of folded paper. A smile quirked his mouth as he told her, "I hardly think Sheridan wants to name her baby after a pint-sized vampire slayer or her gang of snarky friends."

    Theresa's eyes twinkled at his unwitting admission, "My taste is a little more refined than Kay's, more classic."

    Fairy-tale themed or Audrey Hepburn-inspired, if Luis were a betting man, but he didn't say anything, stubbornly refused to give his little sister the satisfaction. Changing the subject, he reminded her, "I thought you had a big test coming up. Shouldn't you be studying for it?"

    "Coach Russell's dropping Whitney off at the Book Café after practice." Glancing down at the watch on her slender wrist, Theresa's brown eyes widened slightly. "Speaking of which, I better go before I'm late."

    "Theresa," Luis's voice stopped her, just before she was out of his sight. Her hair was a dark waterfall over her shoulder as she leaned around the door, her face lovely and animated, as she waited for him to continue. "Be careful, okay? Call me if it gets late. I'll pick you and Whitney up."

    "Thanks, Luis," Theresa beamed. "We've already got it covered. Remember what I said," she said by way of goodbye.

    Shaking his head, Luis watched her cross the Youth Center to tell Sheridan goodbye, clearly catching her off-guard when she threw her arms around her in a hug. Still, the soft, radiant smile it brought to Sheridan's face…without thinking, Luis found himself tearing a blue post-it note from the small pad beside his computer and scrawling the first name that came to mind (a name that had visited his dreams often, as Sheridan's belly grew, along with the reality of the child she carried safely within it). He folded the paper up, and, making sure no one was looking, dropped it into the jar.

    The name he'd chosen, the name given to the daughter that would come to belong to him in every sense save one was simple, sweet with surrender as it left her mother's mouth (much) later, selected out of gratitude and an unspoken love that was still just a faraway star in twin pairs of blue eyes.

    It was his name as much as hers, and each year, when her birthday came around, and Sheridan sugar-coated the drama-filled moments leading to her little girl's birth, she'd remind her of that fact, of how her name had come to be, of how she had come to be…

    Emma.




    ~*~



    4. (~7~)
    Title: Tidal Wave
    Rating: PG
    Warnings: slight language, off-screen violence, other character death
    Characters/Pairings: pre Sheridan/Luis, mentions of Roger and Pierre, mentions of Sam, original character
    Summary: prompt: hero. I won't let anything else bad happen to you, he promised.
    Author's Notes: Tidal Wave, which I happen to love because it makes me think of a fanmix I ran across one time for another favorite fictional couple of mine (Sawyer and his Blondie…absolutely), is a song by The Killers. It's enjoyed heavy rotation by me ever since, lol. Anyway, I picked this title for a lot of reasons, some more obvious than others. The setting of this chapter, the intense emotional rollercoaster Sheridan and Luis go through in such a short time, the way Luis is blindsided by his feelings when he holds Emma for the first time. I thought it was rather appropriate, but maybe that's just me.






    ~*~




    Luis visits Sheridan and Emma in the hospital, that first time, after…

    With a darkening bruise on her cheek, a butterfly bandage just above her brow, Sheridan looked small in the hospital bed, dwarfed beneath its blankets as she slept.

    Luis had trouble reconciling the image with the spitfire he rightfully knew her to be, and so he lingered, silently, until a quiet voice startled him into resumed forward movement.

    "Chief Bennett took her statement hours ago," Ethan Crane told him, whisper-soft. "She's been sleeping ever since."

    Almost against his will, Luis's feet drew him closer to her bed, his hand lifted as if to comb her tousled blond curls back from her forehead (he settled for placing it on her pillow instead), and he sighed, an awkward, halting explanation escaping his mouth (again, against his will). "I'm not here about the case. I just…"

    Ethan kindly interrupted him, placed a grateful hand upon his strong shoulder. "I know. Just try not to wake them, okay? I'm going to find Gwen, take her up on that offer of coffee. You'll be here?"

    "I'll be here," Luis promised without meeting Ethan's blue eyes (if he had, he might have protested, futilely, what he'd seen staring back at him, but he didn't, so...). He waited for the other man's footsteps to fade away before walking to the other side of the bed and the bassinet he hadn't noticed, before. This time, he wasn't able to stop himself, and as his large hand covered the cap of golden curls, a pair of unfocused blue eyes blinked up at him and a pink bow of a mouth opened in a sweet, dainty excuse of a whimper. Carefully, Luis lifted the warm, wriggling little body from the bassinet, cradled her close to his chest, to the calming beat of his heart, soothed her as he made a likely discovery (she was wet).

    "I've never changed a diaper," Sheridan admitted, her blue eyes now very much awake, shadowed with shame as they stared at Luis. "Some mother that makes me."

    Luis stilled, hushing Emma with a kiss to her downy head, freed her from the swaddled blanket now hanging loosely from her restless legs. "Never had much use for other's bodily fluids, did you Crane?" he teased with a gentle smirk.

    Pushing herself up on her elbows, Sheridan responded to his teasing with a smile that was (thankfully) more chagrined than shamed. "We had nannies for that, Supercop. I think my mother was the last Crane to even know what a diaper looked like."

    Luis's teeth gleamed at her, white in the darkness, as his feet carried him closer to her. "It's not rocket science," he said, making short work of the buttons of Emma's pink onesie, revealing the sodden diaper beneath. When Sheridan's smile disappeared, and she drew her bottom lip between her teeth fretfully, he further gentled his handling of her, lowered his voice to a soft, soothing murmur. "I can teach you. There's really nothing to it."

    "Luis, you've already done so much already," Sheridan protested, but it was an exceedingly weak objection, one Luis saw right through.

    "Prepare to get those manicured hands dirty, Crane," Luis said in forewarning, his eyes twinkling at her but his tone firm as he filled her waiting arms with her daughter, gathered up the necessary supplies to facilitate their first lesson. "Parenthood is a messy business."

    They changed Emma's first diaper just like they would later kiss her first skinned knee (just like they would send her off on her first date, many, many years into the future): together.




    ~*~



    5. (~21~)
    Title: Falling Slowly
    Rating: PG, maybe.
    Warnings: unresolved sexual tension (lol).
    Characters/Pairings: pre-Sheridan/Luis, mentions of Pilar, Paloma, Ethan/Gwen, original character.
    Summary: prompt: freak out. She felt so helpless, so utterly useless in the face of her baby daughter's obvious pain, and not for the first time, she wondered if she'd made the right decision, the fair decision, in deciding to bring such a beautiful little soul into the world with little more to offer her than love.
    Author's Notes: I don't know you, but I want you…Tell me that doesn't sound like Sheridan and Luis. No, really. Even when I thought the song said want to instead of want you, lol, it always just fit for this story. From a purely superficial standpoint, it just…sounds…so pretty. No matter who sings it. That's my opinion, of course. I think the part I pointed out to you, in particular, really speaks to the place Sheridan and Luis find themselves in at this point of the story. The version of Falling Slowly I drew upon when writing this chapter is by Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. Feel free to look up the original. I'm rather fond of it, too.





    ~*~




    The first time Luis sees Sheridan naked…

    The door creaked open, and Luis's dark eyes slammed shut at the (beautiful, heart-stopping, forbidden) sight that greeted him. Still, it was too late, much too late.

    Not three feet in front of him, Sheridan Crane slept, peacefully, serenely, with her tiny daughter cradled between her breasts. Breasts still full in the wake of pregnancy, skin flushed pink from the warm water, sensitive to the cool air of the room. Long, smooth legs stretched the length of the tub lazily (miles long to Luis's thirsty eyes), and slightly pruned fingers rest on Emma's equally naked skin, spanning the entirety of her small back.

    Luis lifted his eyes upward, apologized for the guttural curse he couldn't hold in, and glanced restlessly around the room for something, anything to cover them up, shield them from his guiltily drawn eyes.

    Emma was warm, boneless, sound asleep, and she opened her pink mouth in a tiny yawn when he tucked her covers around her, innocent.

    Sheridan was just as warm, just as boneless (her damp skin slid against his, soft, like silk, as he rolled up his sleeves, slipped a strong, supportive arm around her back, pulled her in to his body), slept just as soundly as he struggled with one hand to wrap the towel he'd procured around her, lifted her in his arms.

    The towel fell from Sheridan's slender shoulders, trailed behind them as Luis stumbled to her bedroom (his mouth against her temple), shoved the covers back, lay her against the pillows. His long fingers strayed to her parted mouth, trembled with every breath released against them, and his eyes had a mind of their own (she had a mole where her ribs ended and the curve of her waist began, an angry red line wrapped around her right hipbone, a half-moon birth mark on the inside of her opposite thigh). He held his breath as she shifted beneath his hands, waited for those blue eyes to open, flash angrily at him, waited, waited, waited, but like her daughter, she didn't waken, merely opened her pretty (sarcastic, siren's) mouth in a yawn, the picture of (pretend) innocence.

    Heat like an inferno set Luis's blood to a fever-pitch boil, zipped along his veins as he lowered his mouth, let it hover over hers, but the moment ebbed, the fire banked, reason returned. He tucked the blanket around Sheridan's shoulders like he would a child, checked on Emma one last time, and let himself out of her house, retreated to his own home. Sleep eluded him there, and he rose with the dawn, shrugged on his police uniform, was the first customer waiting in line for Beth's particular brand of strong coffee, black.

    The next time Emma had colic, Luis strapped them both securely into his jeep, raced the waves that battered the rocks along Coast Road. Still, sitting there beside her, in the dark, he only had to close his eyes…



    ~*~



    Bless the Broken Road—originally by Rascal Flatts, the version I listened to? Carrie Underwood


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