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Faking It

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Sharon has a date -- an actual shave-your-legs, put-on-your-good-underwear date -- and that is how she finds herself in the same bar as Fritz Howard the night he falls off the wagon.

She almost doesn't get involved. She comes so, so very close to walking right past him and over to her date, but when she sees his rocks glass of brown liquor, she remembers she's less the type of woman who has one night stands with beautiful young women she meets online than she is the type of woman who spends too much of her life cleaning up after drunken men.

"Dammit," she says, and she might stomp her foot a little before she turns on her heel, walks up to the bar, and shoulders her way in between Agent Howard and the definitely-not-his-wife blonde Sharon fervently hopes is only sitting next to him by chance.

"Agent Howard," Sharon says in her phoniest, most pleasant voice, with her phoniest, most pleasant smile, "what a surprise to find you here. Where is Chief Johnson?" She looks around for effect; she has no illusion the chief is anywhere to be seen. "I'd love to say hi."

"Captain." Fritz barely looks at her before raising his glass to his lips. Sharon recalls his file, remembers he is not a pleasant drunk, not fun and gregarious like Jackson, but rather angry, morose, or cruel.

She feels bad for Chief Johnson, but in truth, she prefers it this way. There's no need to flirt or dance, no reason to humor him lest she be accused of ruining the night. She can cut straight to the point.

"I'm not sure how much you've had to drink, Agent Howard, but knowing your history as I do, I can say with certainty that any amount is more than enough. I don't know what could possibly have led you to abandon your years of sobriety, nor, frankly, do I care. What I do care about, however, is the people whose lives you will surely endanger by foolishly getting behind the wheel, and it is for their sake, and the sake of your wife, who does not deserve to be humiliated by her husband's DUI, that I am going to so generously put my evening on hold and drive your sorry ass home."

Fritz takes another drink, rests his finger contemplatively on the edge of his glass. "You know, Brenda really undersold just what a bitch you are."

Sharon laughs. "I've worked in Internal Affairs for nearly two decades, Agent Howard. I'm afraid you'll need to do much better than that. But fortunately for you, you have an entire car ride to think of something pithy. Now get up."

She steps back, and his sole act of defiance is to down the rest of his drink before following orders. She's not surprised -- violent outbursts aside, he's always struck her as positively obsequious. She supposes anyone married to Brenda would have to be; Lord knows enough of her own marital issues arose from the assertive nature she and Jackson both share.

Fritz is steady enough on his feet, and when he takes a few steps that could almost be mistaken for a straight line, Sharon fights back the urge to offer him sarcastic praise. She'd prefer to have his cooperation for the entire walk to her car. While she is physically capable of handling a man his size, she ordinarily does so in one of her more work-appropriate pairs of heels.

She doesn't care enough to tell him to buckle up before pulling out of the lot, and her foot is heavy on the gas as she dials Brenda's cell. "Good evening, Chief," she says. "I'm sorry for disturbing you, but a matter of some urgency has come up, and I wanted to make sure you were home before I stopped by."

There's a moment of silence. "I am, but can't it wait til morning, Captain?"

"Fraid not, Chief. I promise I'll be as brief as possible." She hangs up and glances sideways at Fritz, finds him leaning hard against the door. Morose is definitely the mood.

"You don't think Pope and Brenda have rekindled their affair, do you?"

Sharon could tell him to quit being absurd. She could also, wisely, choose not to involve herself in the personal life of her co-workers -- but if she were any good at that, she wouldn't be sitting in her car with Fritz Howard. "Am I to take it you and Chief Johnson are having marital problems?"

Fritz leans his head back against the seat. "How is that a woman who is so accomplished a liar can be so bad at faking orgasms? For six months! And I'm just not supposed to notice?"

Sharon doesn't need to hear this. She doesn't need to think about this, not ever, but especially not when she's wearing good underwear and fuck-me heels.

"Well," Sharon says flatly, because her mouth has gone bone dry at the thought of Brenda and orgasms, fake or real, "alcohol has been known to improve a man's sexual prowess, so I'm sure that problem will resolve itself after tonight."

"Look, I'm just sorry I interrupted your plans for the evening, Captain," Fritz says. "Getting laid could only have improved your attitude."

Sharon hums. "The night is young, Agent Howard."

And, she thinks, your wife is sexually unsatisfied.