Author's Note: I'm posting this in parts rather than as an extended 1-shot as planned as it's gotten longer than I anticipated. I guess this could be considered a prequel, more or less, to my other story, Making a Change, in addition to filling in missing scenes from "The Last Word". I did write Making a Change before the episode aired though.

NOTE: 11-99 is dispatch code for officer needs help


Chapter 1:

The radio crackled at LAPD Headquarters.

"All available units, 11-99, 3882 North Ridgecrest, 90036." The message was quickly relayed to the Major Crimes unit.

The faces of the squad registered alarm as they recognized the address. No words were spoken as they ran from the murder room. In two minutes, the squad was in their respective vehicles en route to Brenda and Fritz's duplex.

The radio crackled again.

"Attention all units, 11-99 in progress, 3882 North Ridgecrest, shots have been fired."

Fear shot through the detectives as they rocketed through the streets of LA.

"Damn it! Damn it! Faster!" Flynn exclaimed, pounding his fists on the dashboard.

"I've got the gas to the floor!" Sanchez replied as he willed the car to move faster. "Holy Mother, please let her be alright," he prayed silently.

Countless squad cars streaked into the neighborhood, lights flashing and sirens screaming. Officers were surrounding the building when the detectives of Major Crimes pulled up. They pulled on bullet proof vests as they ran toward the house.

Quickly organizing with some of the other officers, they charged into the house. They rammed open the front door and streamed into the home, guns drawn. "LAPD!"

They moved through the house room to room. In the kitchen, they found Rusty clutching his bleeding leg and their Chief holding her weapon on her assailant, who was gasping for breath while lying in a spreading pool of his own blood. They were shocked to see it was Philip Stroh.

Gabriel approached Brenda, trying to assess for potential injuries. "Chief?" He reached for her gun, which was still trained on Stroh. She flinched away from him, but didn't take her eyes or weapon off her target.

Two EMS units arrived, with Captain Raydor right behind them. Seeing the scene secured, she entered the house. She found the Flynn, Gabriel, Provenza, and Sanchez circled around Brenda.

"Captain. It's Stroh. Bastard's still alive," Flynn informed her as EMTs moved to treat both Stroh and Rusty.

Brenda still hadn't released her weapon, and Raydor looked at the detectives questioningly.

Gabriel leaned over and spoke to Raydor's ear. "She won't let us take the gun."

Raydor took in the panic on the chief's face, the way she was shaking. She was looking pretty shocky.

"Gentlemen, why don't you assist with documenting the scene." The men took the hint and moved off, shooting concerned glances back.

Like Gabriel had, Raydor approached Brenda, but she made no move to take her gun or otherwise touch her. She spoke softly.

"Chief Johnson? Why don't you give me your weapon?" She held out her hand. "Just hand me the gun. Please, Chief."

Brenda wouldn't take her eyes away from Stroh, watching as he was loaded onto a stretcher.

After the EMT's had taken him out, she continued to stare at the pool of blood on the floor. Raydor moved carefully, to avoid startling her, and tried block her line of sight.

"He's gone, Chief. You can release your weapon now. It's alright."

Brenda slowly lowered her arms, and Raydor took the gun. EMT's approached, and Brenda backed away from them. She raised her eyes to meet Raydor's. "You'll need my statement."

"That can wait, if..."

"No. No, I want to do this now."

"Chief… You may need medical attention. Have you been injured?"

"No. No, I'm fine…" She trailed off. Rusty had already been taken out by the other pair of EMTs. Someone should have gone with him, she thought absently. "Captain, can we please just get this done?" She just wanted to get this part over with as quickly as possible.

"Ok. Yes. We can do that."

Raydor pulled Provenza aside. "Where's Agent Howard?"

"DC. He went to personally expedite some of the stuff on Stroh and his victims."

"Well, he needs to be informed and get back here ASAP."

"I've already made the call," Provenza replied. Raydor nodded and guided Brenda into the living room to take her statement.


Fritz had just gotten to his hotel room a few minutes earler. He planned on taking a hot shower, then calling Brenda before collapsing into bed. He was heading to the bathroom for the shower when he heard the knock on the door. He glanced through the door's peep hole and saw a uniformed police officer. He opened the door to find two of DC's finest standing in the hall.

"Officers. What can I do for you?"

"Special Agent Fritz Howard?"

"Yes."

"Sir, we've been asked by LAPD to notify you..."

These were the words Fritz had long feared. He heard the blood rushing in his ears and grabbed the door frame for support. One of the officers reached to steady him as the other continued.

"...that your wife, a Deputy Chief Johnson, has been involved in an incident with a suspect in your home."

Fritz looked desperately at the officers. "What happened? Is she, is she ok?"

"We were told she wasn't seriously injured, but we are to escort you to the airport for an immediate return to Los Angeles. The FBI has arranged for you to take one of their jets."

The officers helped him gather his things together and he was in a squad car headed for the airport almost before he knew what was happening. It was a quick trip, since traffic was light at this late hour and the speeding squad car could make unimpeded progress. He was being directed toward the plane when his head began to clear a bit and he pulled out his cell phone and dialed Brenda's number.

It went to voice mail, and Fritz didn't bother to leave a message before dialing again, panic increasing with each passing moment. On the third ring of the fourth call, he got an answer. From Lt. Provenza.

"Lieutenant? Where's Brenda? Is she ok? Can I talk to her? What happened?"

"Slow down, slow down, Fritz. The Chief's giving her statement right now."

"Has she been hurt? Is she…"

"Hold on!", Provenza interrupted. "I'll answer all your questions. She's been roughed up a bit, but she doesn't appear injured. Just shaken. She's refused any medical attention."

Of course she did, Fritz thought.

Provenza continued "Now, as to what happened… That asshole Stroh broke in here, threatened our boy Rusty with a knife, and then attacked the Chief. She managed to get her gun and put a few holes in him."

"Did she kill him?"

"No. Damn it." Life would have been better if she had, he thought. "At least she managed to beat the crap out of him twice in one day."

"What?"

Oops, thought Provenza. He quickly recovered when he saw the chief finish up her statement. "Hold on. Here she is - I'll hand the phone over."

"Chief, it's Fritz." He held out the phone, and she hesitated. She knew she'd fall apart at the sound of his voice.

Provenza read the sentiment on her face. "Chief… He needs to hear you're ok." She nodded and took the phone, going into the bedroom.

"Fritz? I'm ok. I'm fine. Rusty was hurt, but he'll be ok."

Fritz could hear her voice shake, and she sounded slightly hysterical.

"Brenda, I'm on a flight right now. I'll be there in a couple of hours, ok?"

She wanted to weep with relief. So she did. "I love you."

"I love you too. I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Don't, don't hang up. Can you stay on?"

"Yes."

"Just talk to me. About anything. Anything at all." She grabbed his pillow off the bed and hugged it, smelling him on it. It wasn't like being in his arms, but it would have to do for now. "I just, I need to hear your voice."

Oh, she did not sound all right. Not at all. "Brenda, what happened?"

She couldn't tell him, not now. Later she would, but right now everything threatened to overwhelm her. "Fritz, please, I can't… Just talk to me. Please."

So he talked. About DC (but not anything case-related), the plane, people he'd seen, stories from when he worked there years ago. He could tell she was crying, trying to suppress sobs, and he was terrified. What the hell had happened? But he worked to keep his voice calm, to give her what reassurance he could from 30,000 feet and thousands of miles away.

TBC...