BAU Headquarters – Morning –
The last few officers filed out of the kitchen with leftover pastries wrapped in napkins for later. Chris, Street, Luca and Deacon began gathering the trash working to put the room in order. None of them wanted to speak first about what had happened earlier with the detective coming in and disrupting Hondo’s welcome back festivities.
“Well, he did say he didn’t want any fanfare.” Street began.
“You’re right about that.” Deacon agreed.
“So, do any of you know who that woman is?” Luca asked. “I mean she seemed a little uptight.”
“She’s Lt. Paula DelDotto; she runs metro’s homicide division.” Chris answered.
“What do you know about her, Chris?” Deacon asked.
“She’s tough; she’s known for solving some of the departments toughest cases.”
“What does she want with Hondo?” Street wondered.
“Whatever it is it can’t be good.” Said Luca.
Hondo’s Office –
“Look Hondo, I’m not saying you pulled the trigger, but I think you know something about this case.”
“Is that why you’re having me followed?”
DelDotto looked surprised; she’d put her best surveillance team on him and there was no way he could have spotted them.
“I’m not sure…”
“Please, don’t insult my intelligence. I told you, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I know when I’m being followed.”
“I had to know…”
“Know what? Why is it so hard for you to believe me?”
“I’ve been doing this for a long time too! When I was promoted as head of homicide it ruffled a lot of feathers; it’s been tough but I’m tough too and just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m going to allow anyone to get away with murder, especially another cop!”
Hondo sat on the edge of his desk and ran his fingers lightly across his ribcage. He wasn’t in the mood for an interrogation and he didn’t appreciate being on top her suspect list.
“I’ve really got to go, Lieutenant; four weeks is a long time to be away.”
“Looks like those ribs are still giving you problems. Are you sure you’re ready to be back?”
Hondo smirked and looked away unsure how to answer the question.
“I’m fine; I appreciate your concern.” He added dryly.
“Just one more thing.”
“Tell me what you know about Herman Lauder.”
Office of Herman Lauder –
Herman had allowed Hondo Harrelson to distract him from his mission; It had been nearly two months since he had become aware that the SWAT officer had been poking around in his business. It had thrown his timetable off and he needed to make up for lost time. He’d sent several warnings to the persistent man but he still wasn’t sure he’d gotten the message. The circumstances behind Buck Spivey’s death had been reopened like a festering wound and the murder of one of his junior associates threatened everything that he had worked so hard for. It was time to regroup and get back on track before Harrelson’s recovery gave him a newfound determination to bring him down. Maurice wanted revenge for Ricky’s murder; thankfully for now he had convinced him to stand down. Maurice was convinced that Hondo had lured him to the alley and shot him in an act of revenge. Herman would never be able to tell his friend the truth that he had arranged for Ricky’s death; the young man was a liability that neither of them could afford. It was for the good of the company and their mission.
There wasn’t much that Maurice had been proud of in his life but one thing he was proud of was his loyalty to his best friend and employer, Herman Lauder. With the exception of Lauder himself, no one knew more about the man that to most was a mystery. Maurice had risked his life and freedom to show his love and loyalty that no longer needed to be proven. He saw a glimpse of that type of loyalty in young Ricky Bolton whom he had taken under his wing almost two years ago. Herman didn’t think much of him, but Maurice saw a younger version of himself in the boy. Now he was dead; he believed that Hondo Harrelson was to blame, and he was irritated to say the least that Herman wouldn’t allow him to end the cop for good. Instead, Maurice found himself working on the next phase of Herman’s master plan for the great city of Los Angeles and he had to admit it was a masterpiece; a masterpiece that would leave the city in pieces.
S.W.A.T. Headquarters –
“What’s wrong Sergeant, cat got your tongue?”
Hondo didn’t know what to say; she was fishing, and he wondered if she were still trying to implicate him in yet another crime. His gut was telling him to be careful.
“No, no… what makes you bring him up?”
The homicide detective began walking slowly around the room looking at the awards, and citations and several pictures of his team and then finally to a picture of the man who had taught Hondo everything he knew about being a good cop.
“Because I think Herman Lauder killed Buck Spivey.” She answered.
Hondo felt numb; perhaps she was setting a trap. He’d learned first-hand just how far Lauder’s reach extended. Perhaps she was really here because of him and not to solve a murder. Hondo approached her stepping into her personal space to get her attention.
“Why are you really here, Lieutenant? Is this some kind of game? Do you work for Lauder?”
Deldotto turned to face him not bothered that he was way to close; an obvious attempt to intimidate her.
“This is no game, Sergeant I assure you.” Then moving away. “Buck had an envelope delivered to me a day before the Raymont Harris shooting. A lot of it didn’t make sense except that Lauder’s name kept coming up.”
Hondo stepped back toward his desk disappointed in himself for his behavior.
“Buck left me an envelope too. I started looking into Lauder and that’s when my life got…complicated.”
“I believe the attack on you and the murder of Ricky Bolton are all tied to Herman Lauder.” She continued.
“Everybody keeps trying to tell me that I’m crazy; Buck’s death was ruled a suicide and so, I’m supposed to shut up or go to therapy.”
“When I heard about the feds paying you all a visit; I kept my file a secret. You’re the only other person that knows about it.”
Hondo was blown away maybe there was a way to prove that Buck didn’t kill himself. He was more convinced than ever that Buck knew too much and was ready to bring Lauder and his entire organization to its knees. Hondo believed with his entire being that he owed Buck the truth and he couldn’t let it rest no matter what it cost.
“So why are you telling me?” Hondo asked.
“Because I believe we can work together to get to the truth.”
“But five minutes ago, you believed I was a murderer.”
“I never thought you were a murderer, Sergeant; I just wanted to make sure I could trust you.”
“And can you?”
(Photo credit: Viacomcbsexpress.com)