Sharon was in a pickle. After the conclusion of that last critical missing turned quadruple homicide, she’d been offered a promotion by Chief Pope and Assistant Chief Tompkins. It was an odd sort of offer - apparently one of the few jobs in the LAPD that could be turned down without consequence because it was not to the department’s best interest if the one of the public faces of the police force hated their job.
An increase in rank to Commander would be accompanied by a move out of FID and Professional Standards and into a position under Pope’s direct command, where she would be trotted in front of the cameras and talk to print journalists during the investigation of high profile cases. Apparently her cooler heads approach to dealing with the media had appealed to the Chief - and the Mayor.
The promotion was tempting, certainly. She had been at her current rank and in her current position for a decade, and there were very few paths to Commander and beyond for someone of her age and skill set. But going in front of the cameras was nerve wracking, and she was pretty sure she’d only survived the last case because of Chief Johnson’s quiet support. Going on television to talk about dead children just sucked.
She wanted to talk to the Chief. She knew Brenda would ask the right questions to help her resolve this situation, but she hadn’t seen the woman since shortly after their shared meal three days ago. Almost as soon as they had set foot back into the office, a call had come in from the San Luis Obispo Police Department. Their suspect, a Mr. Karl Mitchell, had crashed his truck into the median of the 101 after a short car chase. He had been transported to the local hospital to undergo treatment for a moderate concussion. Brenda and Gabriel had left immediately to board a chopper to take custody of the prisoner. Karl Mitchell had turned out to be another tragedy. Neural syphilis contracted, as best they could tell, nearly 15 years ago, had turned the man’s brain into swiss cheese, precipitating a psychotic break. An entire family dead and a man’s life ruined because he had failed to get a penicillin shot when he had first gotten sick. Since Mitchell clearly was non compos mentis at the time of the killing, he would spend the rest of his life in a mental institution.
Should she call? It was only nine, and as far as she knew, Major Crimes hadn’t caught a case since the resolution of the last one. A text message, perhaps, to test the waters.
TO: BLJ Pope offered me a promotion. Commander. Public Relations Officer.
The message went wizzing off into cellular cyberspace. Thirty seconds later her phone was ringing. She answered it.
“Sharon Raydor! Should I be congratulating you?”
“I don’t know. I think I’m ready to move on from FID, but department media shill? I don’t know if that’s really for me.” It didn’t help that Taylor was the last person to hold the position, staining it forever in Sharon’s mind.
“You do have a compelling television presence, Sharon. You do all our work justice when you’re behind those microphones, and you dress a damn sight better than Taylor ever did, with those ridiculous ties he wore. You also seem to have a decent rapport with the reporters - they like you and must trust you or something, because they actually go to you for information instead of pestering me and my people.”
“Well, you’re welcome, I guess.” Sharon sighed. “I just don’t know if I’ll be able to handle dealing with them on a regular basis, plus working so closely with Pope doesn’t really appeal to me.”
Brenda let out a bark of laughter, and said coyly: “Our illustrious Chief has a thing for you, you know. He always, always has his eyes on your posterior when you walk away. Though he’s a little bit scared of you, too. It makes him real nervous when you raise your voice, he straightens his tie when you do.”
Sharon grunted in displeasure, but she could imagine the look of evil glee on Brenda’s face at this moment. “Pope has been eyeing me since he joined the department, Brenda Leigh. And he is well aware of my boundaries. Besides, he looks at you like you look at chocolate at the end of a long day. I’ve met pimps and frat boys with more subtlety.”
Brenda laughed uproariously. “The man is nothing if he isn’t predictable, I will give him that,” she said between chuckles and Sharon chuckled along with her.
Sharon wanted to say something flip about Brenda’s history with Pope, but didn’t know if they had reached a point where that was in bounds. She needn’t have worried.
“God, did I really date him? It must have been temporary insanity. Do you know when I first moved back here he was after me again? He was still married, and he knew that I knew, but he went so far as to get me a pair of earrings from Tiffany’s.”
“Tiffany’s, really? Did he think some diamonds would make up for the fact he was pulling the same shit on you again?” Sharon kind of wanted to throw up at the thought of Brenda still fending off Pope’s advances.
“Hell if I know what he was thinking. Though they were the tiniest damn earrings they sell there. A few days later I gave those earrings back and told him that if he ever made another advance on me, I’d slap him with a lawsuit before he could shut his jaw from saying the words.”
“Too bad that didn’t teach him to keep his eyes to himself. I don’t know if I could stand having him and his jowls salivating over me every day. At least in FID I only encounter him once a week.” Sharon had to hold the phone away from her ear as Brenda laughed hysterically.
“Oh god, his jowls! They are a bit like their own separate personality, aren’t they - sometimes disapproving, sometimes smarmy, sometimes cheeky.”
“Really, Brenda Leigh? Jowl puns?” Sharon chuckled, incredulous.
“Yes, yes, I’m awful,” she said and Sharon could hear the smile in her voice. “So Pope and actually dealing with the media are the downsides. Any upsides to this promotion?”
Sharon smiled to herself, she was so glad that her intuition about calling Brenda had proven to be a good one. “Well, I could spout off platitudes about providing an example for the women of the LAPD, but I don’t know if media liaison is the example I want to be.”
“You taking the position would prove to the department that the position of Community Relations Officer doesn’t have to be about sleazy brown-nosing.” Brenda reasoned. “You could do a lot to undo the damage that Taylor did.”
“I could.” Sharon agreed, reluctantly.
“Sharon, if you have this many reservations, if you even think that this job is going to make you miserable, then you shouldn’t take it. You have done so much for the LAPD in past year, between plugging a high ranking leak, and helping stop a multi-million dollar federal lawsuit, and instituting policies to protect those silly idealistic college students protesting downtown from frustrated and unsympathetic police officers, which in turn protects the reputation of the department - policies that have been used in at least five other cities to great effect.” Brenda’s voice softened, lost the slight stridency that had slipped in while she was singing Sharon’s praises. “If you don’t want this position, I am positive that Pope will find something else for you - I know for a fact that the Mayor has been on his case about promoting you. You have saved both those men a lot of money and bad press.”
Sharon was glad she wasn’t talking to Brenda in person because she was positive she was blushing scarlet. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chief.”
“Anytime, Cap’n. So what are you going to say if Pope asks why you don’t want the position?”
“Hmmmmm.” Brenda felt a shiver travel down her spine at the sound. Sharon really had a wonderful voice. “That is an excellent question.” Sharon was silent for a long moment.
“I think I’ll tell him that I would like to be in a position where more of my skills can be used by the department. I’ll have to restrain myself from saying something about not being departmental tits and ass - or his tits and ass.” Brenda giggled.
“You do look ever so nice in high def, Cap’n. I’ll just bet Pope TiVos you for his personal viewing pleasure.” Brenda said, then broke down in a fit of laughter.
“If you keep saying things like that, I’m going to have to hang up because I’ll be throwing up, Brenda Leigh Johnson.” Brenda laughed even harder. “You’re terrible, Chief, just terrible.”
“It’s true. But I’ve never had anyone to joke with about Pope’s lecherous ways, so you’re just going to have to deal, Captain.”
“Well, next time you want to joke about Pope staring at my ass, at least ply me with alcohol first.” Sharon groused.
“That can be arranged,” Brenda purred. Sharon was a little dismayed by the fact that she could clearly picture the Chief’s facial expression at that moment because she knew that tone of voice. Brenda’s playful side was something that really stood out in Sharon’s memory. “Will you call me and let me know how it goes? Maybe we can have an after action drink, if you need one. Or call if you need a pep talk. I’ll be in the office early.”
Then Brenda paused, and when she continued, the grin was writ even louder in her voice. “I find it ironic in the extreme that we’re having this conversation about Pope and his…flirtations, Cap’n. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why.”
“They irony hasn’t escaped me either, Chief.” Sharon said wryly.
“I would like to state, for the record of this friendship,” Brenda said, adopting an imperious tone. “That the first air quote promotion end air quote that Pope got me was more of a lateral move, and I accepted mostly because working for an intelligence agency was making me even more crazy and paranoid than I already was. And my move here - well that was more of a promotion, and he definitely wanted me to be grateful to him, probably wanted me to be with him again. But I shot him down, repeatedly, threatened him with a sexual harassment lawsuit and then caused him heaps of professional trouble, so I think maybe he got what was coming to him, even if he did end up Chief of Police.”
“Well, when you lay out your relationship like that, the story sounds a little different than the office scuttlebutt likes to tell it.” Sharon said, grinning too. Brenda hmmm’ed in agreement. “And I take great pleasure in remembering we’re talking about a Chief of Police that was destined for Valley’s Traffic Division.”
Brenda barked out a laugh. “That reorganization chart is still a well loved piece of memorabilia in my murder room, Sharon. In fact, I believe that Buzz and Tao even blew up that picture of him with the photoshopped Captain’s bars and his un-photoshopped jowls for use as computer background, screen saver or dartboard.”
“It’s Pope who was the dartboard, huh?” Sharon would have thought that her picture would have been the dartboard in the murder room at that point in the law suit and transparency audit. Brenda could hear the doubt in Sharon’s voice, even over the phone.
“Sharon,” Brenda said, soft voiced. Sharon wished she could see her face, then. “I did figure out that it was Pope who made you continue that audit, even if it was after I was a complete bitch to you.” Brenda was pretty sure she had a complete catalogue in her head of all the mean, petty things she’d done to Sharon over the three years of their acquaintance. She wanted desperately to apologize for all of them. Brenda tried to speak again, but her words got caught somewhere between her lungs and her mouth. She cleared her throat. “I think I could apologize for every rotten thing I’ve ever said or done to you, Sharon.” She sighed. “But words can’t really…”
Sharon interrupted her. “Brenda Leigh, no. It’s forgotten. And I can’t say I can complain about how everything worked out. I wouldn’t have been able to protect you and your squad as well if I hadn’t known the things I learned during that audit. And I don’t think you’d have gotten a lawyer if I hadn’t been around trying to impress upon you how serious the situation was.” Sharon hoped that her sincerity was evident over the phone. Then she chuckled. “And our little sparring matches? Well, life was never boring when I was working around Major Crimes, Brenda Leigh.”
“Ok, I guess.” Brenda still wanted to prostrate herself in front of the brunette - to vow that she’d never lie and never hurt Sharon’s feelings again, but that probably wasn’t a promise she could keep. But she could trust Sharon when she said that past was past.
“I’m glad things worked out, Brenda, even if it was a little rough along the way.” Brenda was almost positive Sharon wasn’t talking about work, or at least not just about work.
“Me too, Sharon.” Brenda covered the mic of her phone and took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to suppress the things she wanted to say; trying to keep a clamp on her emotions so she could be the support Sharon needed. “Make sure you let me know how it goes. Good luck tomorrow.”
“Ok, Brenda. Keep your fingers crossed for me.”
“Of course, but make sure to be nice, even if Will is a pig.” Brenda waited for Sharon to hang up, then flung herself back on her bed with a silly smile on her face.