Author's notes: I took a break from the behemoth "Welcome Her Home with Red Roses" to write a little tale that's been banging around my head for some time. Make my day and review, sil' vous plait.
FYI, in this story, Fritz is not the LAPD liaison.
Fritz didn't like the new guy. At all.
Agent Andrew Hendricks was young, in his late twenties, and was a good looking man. He had transferred from DC, something he bragged about, as if he were a city slicker exiled to the boonies: he had played with the big boys, and LA agents were just small town nobodies. I came from Washington too, Fritz thought, but I certainly didn't think that made me anything special. Hendricks strutted around the FBI office onWiltshire Boulevard, greeting other agents as if they were his devotees and blatantly ogling women.
Nobody liked him.
Hendricks was assigned to the Racketeering Division, but made no secret of his desire to transfer to the Gang Intelligence Unit. He sucked up to Fritz, who ran the Unit, whenever he could, with the air of someone who thought he was simply asking for what he deserved, and thus was confident he would get it. Fritz swore, after being ensnared in a conversation with Hendricks for the second time in which he oozed ad nauseam about what a great fit he was for Gang Intelligence, that the idiot would never work for him, no way, no how.
On Friday, Fritz's friend Bobbie Salmistrelli volunteered to go out and get subs from their favorite pizza restaurant down the street. Several agents placed their orders, and when the smell of hot melted cheese and red sauce wafted through the office, they eagerly congregated in the break room.
"Let's see, Fritz you asked for a meatball sub and a side salad." Bobbie handed Fritz his lunch, which he accepted with a grateful smile, and sat down at a small table across from Jerry. "And for you, the meatlover's sub, chips, and a coke." Bobby placed Jerry's lunch in front of him, and Jerry rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "Ohh, I love me a good sub," Jerry said, unwrapping the sandwich and taking a big bite.
Fritz would have answered but his mouth was too full of meatball goodness. Bobbie, done distributing food, sat down next to him with a small pizza and a ginger ale, and the three old friends ate their lunch while falling into a comfortable conversation. Six other agents were in the breakroom, also enjoying a rare leisurely lunch and the fruits of Bobbie's efforts.
Halfway through his sub, Fritz's discussion with Bobbie and Jerry about the Dodger's three-game series was interrupted when Agent Hendricks blustered in, his footfall heavy and with an air of displeasure about him. Crap, Fritz thought. This jerk is going to ruin lunch. And I hardly ever do anything but eat at my desk. He glared at Hendricks back.
Agent Hendricks crossed the breakroom and threw himself into a chair at a table where two other agents sat. He sighed deeply. "You would not believe the morning I had," he said dramatically, reaching over and grabbing some of Agent Bender's fries. Bender gave him the hairy eyeball but said nothing.
Hendricks slowly chewed the fries and waited for someone to take the bait. Fritz had no intentions of playing this game and apparently, neither did anyone else. In the absence of inquiries to the cause of his difficulties, Hendricks continued. "Have any of you guys spent any time at the LAPD in Major Crimes?"
Every eye in the room turned to Fritz. After a moment of silence, Agent Feldman spoke up. "Yea, I have," he said, with a smirk on his face. "Why do you ask?" Feldman looked at Hendricks in mock-interest, but Fritz knew what he was really doing. He and Feldman got along OK, but Feldman's experiences with Major Crimes were as pleasant as a castration. And thanks to Feldman's prompt, he knew what was coming.
Hendricks looked over at Feldman, but was still speaking to the entire room, which happened to hold only men. "Then you've met the Queen Bitch," he said, reaching out and grabbing for more fries. "What is her name, yea, Johnson. Brenda Johnson."
Every sub was dropped as Fritz's colleagues turned to blatantly stare at him, gauging his reaction. It was known that Fritz was intensely loyal to his wife, and no one, no matter how difficult they found her, said a bad word about Brenda Leigh Johnson in front of him. Fritz felt the vein in his temple start to pound. He better shut the hell up right now. But Hendricks, too wrapped up in giving his performance to notice his audience's reaction, kept going.
"Yea, when I was first told the head of Major Crimes was a woman, I pictured some big bull dyke. But this chick—Chief Johnson, they all called her, looks like she should be waiting tables at a Hooters. She's like this tall—" he held his hand three feet above the ground- "and she's got long blonde hair. Oh, and this thick Southern drawl. I'm surprised she wasn't wearing cutoff jeans and a tank top."
Fritz's heart was racing, and he balled his hands into fists to control himself from rising from his seat and punching the shit out of Hendricks. Jerry put his hand on Fritz's arm and shot him a warning look, as if to say, "killing him isn't worth your career." Fritz wasn't so sure.
"…and she never shut up. The whole time I was there she never stopped talking, bossing everyone around and not listening to what I was telling her to do. All I got were these nasty looks and sugary 'thank yews,' or she just pretended I wasn't there." He lowered his voice conspiratorially, scanning the room. "It's just us guys so I can say this. We all know how a woman like that, blonde hair, big tits, and no brains, got this job. Flat on her back. Or on her knees. Personally, I'd bend her over that big desk of hers…"
Fritz was shaking with rage. He interrupted Hendricks' degrading speech and spat out, "yea, I know Chief Johnson really well, Hendricks. Really well." Bobbie reached out and put a restraining hand on Fritz's other arm.
Hendricks, delighted to get a response from the one person he was trying to impress, grinned. "Oh yea, Agent Howard? You've had a lot of cases with that Southern Barbie and her army of slaves?" He put his hands behind his head and reclined in the chair, clearly proud of himself for garnering Fritz's attention.
"You could say that," he said through gritted teeth. "Matter of fact, we're married."
Hendricks looked puzzled, and then burst out laughing. "Oh that's funny, Howard. You've worked so many cases with her you feel like you're married to the bitch? I really feel bad for you, man. I'd feel worse for any bastard who actually was married to her, though. They'd probably have to hand over their balls every morning before they went to work."
Fritz rose from his seat so suddenly that both Jerry and Bobbie lost their grip. He reached into his pocket and took out his wallet as he walked toward Hendricks in a red haze of rage, dodging the agents who tried to ward him off. When he got to Hendricks' table, Bender and the other agent quickly pushed back their chairs to get out of the way. Soon they were on their feet like everyone else in the room, braced for a violent confrontation.
Fritz stood in front of a seated Hendricks, who finally sensed Fritz's hostility and was looking around the break room at all the agents now surrounding them. Before he could say anything, Fritz opened his wallet and removed something, slamming it loudly on the table. Hendricks jumped.
"I said," he hissed, "that I'm married to her." Fritz slapped his hand down again next to a small photo of he and Brenda taken on their wedding day.
Hendricks stared down at the picture for a minute, confusion etched on his handsome features. Slowly, realization dawned, then horror. He started to sputter, clearly grasping at a way to fix the mess he created.
"Shut the hell up," Fritz snarled. "You've spewed enough garbage for one day. I have a few things to say, asshole, and you're gonna sit there and listen to them." The room was so quiet his loud, angry words almost echoed. He put his hands on the table and glowered at the younger man.
"First of all, you do not ever talk about women being 'bull dykes' or sleeping their way to the top, or being less than you in any way. If you haven't noticed, Hendricks, you have many female colleagues, all of them who are brighter and more accomplished than you are. They don't deserve to exposed to that bullshit you were throwing around. It goes beyond sexual harassment. It's about respect, something you clearly know nothing about, and something I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure you learn. Respect for women, respect for your colleagues, and respect for outside agencies." Fritz's breaths were short and harsh. Hendricks looked like he was going to be sick.
Fritz leaned closer to him, efficiently trapping Hendricks in his chair. "Now let's talk about Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, my wife, who you just mouthed off about like some horny teenage boy. You wondered why her squad calls her 'Chief Johnson.' Because he is the Deputy Chief of the LAPD's Major Crime Unit, and is one of the highest ranking female police officers in the country." Fritz brought his face within inches of Hendricks, who now looked terrified, all signs of his brash self-assuredness long gone. "And she didn't sleep her way to the top, you Neanderthal. She worked for the CIA, then at the DC and Atlanta police departments. You might have noticed what an incredible investigator she is if you stopped staring at her breasts." Fritz loudly hissed the last few words and stood up. He reached down to grab the small wedding photo and walked toward his table, his colleagues scattering like cockroaches to get out if his way. He scooped up his meatball sub and sloppily wrapped it up in the white deli paper it had come in, trying to control his shaking hands. He knew everyone was watching him and he wanted to appear more in control than he felt. I didn't punch the guy, and that took more self-control than I knew I had. And the hell I'm going to let that asshole ruin my lunch, he thought. Leftovers in hand, Fritz walked out of the lunchroom, not meeting anyone's gaze.
When he got to his office he collapsed in his chair, still charged from the confrontation. He was sure Jerry would be popping in soon to discuss the play-by-play, but Fritz wasn't ready for company yet. And he wasn't ready to let the incident go.
The things he said about Brenda…Fritz wanted to beat the crap out of Hendricks, but he couldn't, not without possibly losing his job. Hendricks now knew there was no chance at all of getting a spot on the Gang Intelligence Unit, but crushing Hendricks's hope for a transfer wasn't nearly enough punishment. Fritz could report him to his superiors for his comments, but that wouldn't go far, since none of them liked Brenda either. What else could he do to the guy?
Fritz smiled; a freshly hatched idea had cracked open and was dribbling inspiration all over him. He picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number.
"Hi honey, how are you?" His rapid pulse slowed down when he heard the familiar dulcet tones of Brenda's Southern accent. "Yea, I know you did. Agent Hendricks had a few things to say about Major Crimes when he got back. What in particular? Oh, it doesn't matter, the guy is an idiot…okay, okay, I'll tell you! Threatening to withhold sex isn't healthy for a marriage, by the way. Let's see, he kept saying Major Crimes was incompetent and everyone would be much better off if you just let the FBI handle the case." He paused for a minute and listened to her furious reply. He hungrily eyed the uneaten half of his meatball sub, promising himself that he could finish it off once he was done planting a few ideas in Brenda's head. In response to a question, he pulled his mind away from cheesy Italian goodness and focused on the conversation, saying, "yes Brenda, he did say something else, just one more thing, but it's just talk, you don't need to..." She interrupted him with a cascade of indignation-seeped words. "Alright sweetie, I give up! I certainly don't want to sleep on the couch for a month. But this is going to make you mad, don't say I didn't warn you." Fritz sighed theatrically, as if greatly pained by what he had to say next. "Hendricks said that the murder isn't important, he could care less that someone got killed, all he cares about is getting a Mob member to flip, and he intends to get the killer into FBI custody as soon as you catch him." He bit his lip to suppress a laugh as she predictably exploded. She read her part of the script perfectly, he thought. That's my girl. Barely getting a word in edgewise, he said, in his concerned voice, "now Brenda, you can't tell him I told you this, or I could get in big trouble." Yea right. "Oh, he's coming back tomorrow, huh? Yeah, I guess you do need to let him know who's in charge, but go easy on him, will you?"
He leaned back in his chair and put his feet on his desk, the last vestige of his fury ebbing as his wife's was rising. Thus starts the lesson, he thought smugly, imagining the horror that awaited Hendricks, as Brenda ranted about how she was going to teach "that boy" a little respect. Fritz put Brenda on speaker phone and reached for his sub. He won't be the same once Brenda is finished with him.
And thank goodness for that.
A/N: Sorry there weren't any mushies in this story, but Fritz's fierce loyalty is pretty sexy, no? Review and let me know?