With the unexpected boon of Brenda's permission to deal with Fritz in a manner she saw fit, Sharon prepared for the encounter like she would prepare for a court date with an especially hostile defense attorney (or a day spent in the company of Major Crimes, before…everything). Her most severe suit - perfectly tailored raw silk in matte black that concealed nearly from neck to knee but for a four inch slit up the back of the skirt and the deep v of the blazer - over a dark purple blouse, was much more than was necessary to intimidate the average cop involved in one of her OIS or use of force cases. That suit, with its 'look, but don't touch' details, was Captain Raydor at her haughtiest, and Sharon hadn't had to play that game, lately, for more than a few minutes at a time, so she needed all the help she could get to believe herself in what used to be a rather habitual role.
It didn't help that as soon as she had walked into the kitchen, dressed and with her hair blown straight, Brenda had given her this lustful, considering looking, like she was trying to figure out if she could ruck Sharon's skirt up without ruining or wrinkling it. (It was too tight, or Sharon might have let her - coasting on that sort of high to give Brenda's ex a dressing down would have been…nice.) It wasn't too long ago that a suit like this would have had Brenda Leigh plotting doubly hard to ruffle Sharon's feathers, but now that Sharon knew what she knew, it was highly probably that Brenda Leigh did so simply to see more of Sharon in a particular outfit.
She hadn't really decided how rough she was going to be on Fritz, but once she received Brenda's text message and found herself shaking with anger and not a little fear, she was resolved: come the end of the day, Fritz Howard was not going to be a happy camper.
Her meeting let out around four, and Sharon slipped into the bathroom, smoothed her hair, picked a bit of salad from between her teeth and reapplied her lipstick. As she looked into the mirror, she hardened herself; let the mask of Captain Raydor slip over her and transform her face into a smooth, haughty facsimile of itself. No cracks, and no crying. She might be angry and scared, but they needed Fritz off their backs to have any chance of doing this right, and having it work out in a way that didn't put an unholy amount of strain on Brenda and Sharon and on their relationship.
Sharon had spent rather a lot of time in the Federal Building, so it was with a polite nod and no trouble that she handed over her service weapon to be secured behind the desk and stepped through the metal detectors as her purse took a pass under the x-ray machine. She nodded back, collected her bag as it exited the machine, and clicked her way across the rather dreary lobby to the elevator bay.
The office of the FBI Liaison to the LAPD was near the top of the building, probably because Fritz was responsible for briefing the SAC's and the US attorneys on the progress of joint LAPD/FBI investigations, and proximity was convenient. Sharon didn't know how often he was actually in his office, so she had called an acquaintance before coming over, just to be sure. Though she supposed that him finding her there, waiting, could have been a right scare, but she didn't have the time or the patience to wait on Special Agent Fritz Howard.
His door was open, and Sharon was inside and had the door closed behind her before he realized what was going on. He looked up from his computer, seemingly unsurprised, but Sharon knew better; she could see the pulse hammering above the collar of his slightly limp looking dress shirt. He bared his teeth at her in a sort of grin; she leaned back against the door and cocked her head at him.
"I can't say that I thought you would show your face around here. Come to beg for mercy? I can't say that I'm feeling particularly generous today, what with you shacking up with my wife and all."
"What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this belligerent and nonsensical course of action, Agent Howard?"
"Accomplish? I don't know that I have a particular goal in mind here, Captain, though it is nice to see you squirm. Just trying to get some of my own back from the two of you, I guess."
Sharon gave him a feral grin. "Oh, really? I bet you'll be feeling very confident and very masculine when the entirety of LA law enforcement is talking about your ex-wife fucking FID's ice queen." She shrugged a shoulder dismissively. "Anyone's better than Fritz Howard."
"Bitch," he spat. Sharon let out a bark of genuine laughter.
"It's been said. I guess the irony here is that I haven't actually done anything to you to warrant your abuse. And neither has Brenda. All she wanted was to be enough for you; just Brenda, as she is, not Brenda plus kids, not Brenda minus work. You couldn't give that to her, and now you are punishing her for moving on."
"She's my wife - we were supposed to want the same things. You think that self-absorbed, work-obsessed Brenda Leigh Johnson will ever put your needs first or give a damn about anyone but herself? She'll use you up, take advantage of every kindness you ever paid her, and then move on to the next sucker," he finished with a significant look at Sharon.
"It's funny, you don't look very used up to me. Angry and a little pathetic, perhaps, but not used up. You spent a few years with an intelligent, funny, sometimes sweet and naive woman who happens to be dynamite in the sack and a crack shot with a 9 mil. It didn't work out; you get over it and you move on. At least, I presume that's how it went with your first wife. You're not still harassing her or trying to ruin her life, are you?"
"Fuck you" Fritz snarled. "And you better think again if you think she'll keep putting out for you once she's gotten what she wants, which is security and someone to cook her meals and deal with her dry cleaning."
At this accusation, Sharon couldn't decide if she wanted to burst out laughing or strangle the man. Brenda had confessed to Sharon that she had stopped trusting that Fritz would respect her wishes regarding birth control, so she had stopped having sex with him. It had been hard for Brenda, as much as she craved intimate contact with her partner, to let go of that part of their relationship. Sharon hoped that she would never give Brenda a reason to so thoroughly mistrust her, that they would lose such a crucial part of their relationship, and one of the ways in which they communicated.
To Fritz, she said nothing, merely shrugging, as if to say: 'we'll see.'
"Just wait," he sneered, then gave her a lingering once over that made Sharon's skin crawl. "I'm surprised she puts out for you, period, since she's possibly the straightest woman I've ever met."
"Clearly, not so straight." Sharon observed, then smirked at him, done with trading barbs and cheap shots. Fritz was like a little boy, angry at the loss of a favorite toy, stomping his feet and engaging in a destructive tantrum. Her children had thrown a few of these fits as toddlers, before she had disabused them of the notion that the habit was in any way constructive. She new exactly how to handle this.
"Moving on, I find myself confused, Agent Howard," Sharon husked in that tone capable of causing men more stalwart than Fritz Howard to sit up and straighten their ties. "Last night, I quite clearly warned you that any actions you decided to take against Brenda, I would return in kind, and yet, here I am."
"And you're confused that I failed to take you seriously?" He leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers behind his head. "I'm sorry to tell you, Captain, that I'm confident that there isn't much you can threaten me with."
"Mmmmmm," she hummed, acknowledging his bravado and his misunderstanding with a bit of condescension. "No, Agent Howard. What confuses, and troubles me, to be frank, is that you spent months working closely with Brenda Leigh and Mr. Baker and myself in order to preserve her job and reputation, and yet you seem to be completely in the dark as to my personal and professional connections and what I am capable of."
"FID doesn't have any pull in the FBI, Captain. And neither does the PSB."
She clicked her tongue at him. "Such narrow thinking. You know, I've worked with people in this building for nearly 30 years, in a number of capacities; cop, advisor on issues of legality and procedure, policy maker. All that would have been in my CV, which you could have had access to, had you asked. What isn't in my CV is that I've been recruited by this Bureau probably half a dozen times, also by the District Attorney's Office, the State Attorney's Office, the US Attorney's Office, the Inspector General's Office, the Board of Police Commissioners…I could go on. The point being, I have a lot of friends, and that is something you would have known had you asked, oh, I don't know, anyone that you work with outside of the LAPD." Fritz looked a little shocked at Sharon's litany, but he merely narrowed his eyes at her.
"So you've had job offers. Maybe you should have taken them, because I'm hardly trembling in fear right now. How do you think I should tell Pope about your little affair? Do you think he would appreciate the pictures I saved from Brenda's Photostream? Perhaps I should show them to him in person - the look on his face should be worth a picture itself!"
"So what you're telling me is: you aren't going to back down," Sharon clarified.
"Not a chance. You know, I find myself wondering if the only reason your audit of Major Crimes didn't find Brenda at fault was because you had a thing for her. I bet Pope will be curious about that fact, too." Ignoring him, Sharon pulled out her phone and scrolled through her contacts.
"Do you like Los Angeles, Agent Howard," she asked conversationally as she located the name she sought and dialed.
"What? What does that matter?" She smiled at his confusion, a real smile, because this was done and he didn't even know it yet.
"Hello, Cole," Sharon responded into her phone. "Yes, I know I haven't, I apologize." She listened for a moment. "No, I will at Christmas. What about yours?" She paused again. "That sounds nice. I'll do that." Another pause and Sharon sent a positively shit eating grin Fritz's way. "Unfortunately this isn't a purely social call. I recently got engaged to a certain Deputy Chief of the LAPD." Fritz could hear the tinny sounds excited male voice through the Captain's phone speaker even at this distance. "The very same. And I will, Cole. We've encountered a little…pushback from her ex-husband, who is, as you know, one of your agents. I have strong suspicions that he used Bureau resources to find out my address, and has engaged in some other highly unprofessional actions. We could have gone to the courts and asked for a TRO, but…I'm in his office." She chuckled. "I'll be here." She slipped the Blackberry back into her blazer pocket.
"You think Hauser will do anything about this? He doesn't answer to you anymore than I do." Fritz knew that Sharon had been on the phone with his boss's boss, Cole Hauser, the Assistant Director in Charge of the Los Angeles division of the FBI. Apparently they were friends; he hadn't known that.
"Regardless of what you may think, you've committed some pretty serious infractions here, Agent Howard. Brenda would have a case in civil court for a restraining order, and I can't imagine your boss would be very happy about your code of conduct violations. Why don't you just sit tight and we'll see what Director Hauser has to say about all this."
Fritz glared at her; he was well and truly trapped in this situation now, with the Captain looking as cool and collected as ever, one hand in a blazer pocket. What did Brenda see in her? She dressed well, in clothing that flattered a not unattractive shape, and her hair was certainly luxurious, but there was no warmth in her. Other than last night, on the couch with Brenda, the strongest emotion he'd seen from her was frustration, and that had also been directed at his wife. He couldn't imagine her having the patience to deal with the mess that was Brenda Leigh in her personal life for more than a few hours at a time. What could she possibly be getting from their relationship?
Their little détente continued for a while; Fritz was reluctant to show weakness by dropping Raydor's even gaze to look at the clock. She was practically motionless; only the steady rhythm of her breathing and the occasional sweep of eyelids across those cool, green eyes hinted at her being more than a wax statue. She was unnerving. Finally, the tension was broken by a knock on the door. The Captain said nothing, but turned, opened the door, exited his office and shut it firmly behind her.
"That was fast," she murmured to Cole Hauser, who, before he was an Assistant Director with the FBI, had been a classmate of Sharon's in law school.
"I figured you'd be in there staring him down and I didn't want to have him throw himself out the window," the well-built, gray-haired man joked. "It's good to see you, Shar. Though I do wish it was under better circumstances."
She gave him an apologetic smile. "I know, and I'm sorry. You were the first person I thought of that could help me handle this. He's already called Brenda's mother, and he was threatening to call Pope."
"I have a tech looking to see if he searched your name in our databases. She hadn't told him anything about the two of you, prior to last night?"
"Not a thing," Sharon affirmed. "He's been acting possessive and controlling since their separation began, so Brenda has been shutting him out. He showed up on our doorstep last night at around 8. Apparently he'd gained access to Brenda's personal email and Apple accounts and decided to confront us - to what purpose, I have no idea."
"Hmmmm. Some consequences are a given, but if Agent Howard decides he doesn't care, there isn't going to be much that I can do." Sharon's face grew dark, brows furrowed, lips pursed.
"I am aware. There isn't much I can do either, that isn't felonious."
"Ha ha, Sharon. No murder, if you please. We do spend a substantial amount of tax dollars training these agents. I'd prefer to not have to replace any of them." She shot him a evil grin. "That's not a reassuring face. You know I'll do what I can."
"I know you will," Sharon breathed, then drew in a shaky breath, the first weakness she'd allowed herself since she left LAPD HQ. "I just can't have this happen again, Cole."
"I know." Cole grasped Sharon's arm, just below the shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I've not had the pleasure of meeting her, but from what I understand, your Deputy Chief is pretty bullheaded, so have a little faith, ok?" Sharon managed a tremulous smile at his characterization of Brenda.
"I'm trying. It's been an exhausting couple of weeks - my reserves are running a little low."
"I'll let you know what happens here, alright. Dinner soon?"
"Sure," Sharon replied, knowing that Cole had to be itching to meet Brenda now. "Thanks for this."
"Anytime, and you know I mean that. Go home and take a load off. I'll call you." Sharon nodded, gave Cold a sad little grin, and left.
Cole straightened his tie and smoothed back his hair, fighting down the not-entirely-appropriate anger he felt on Sharon's behalf. He had had the biggest crush on her in law school, and she had been completely sweet about it - no weirdness, no snickering from Kellan, who was at that point just her boyfriend. She had been a steady friend for more than thirty years; the type you could not talk to for a couple of months and when you reconnected, it was as if there was no gap. He was happy to know that this latest silence had been because she was courting (and hopefully being courted by) a woman she was in love with. Cole knocked lightly on the door and opened it without waiting for an answer.