Like A River Pt. 3

Home of Nia Wells – Morning – 

Dom had not planned on staying the night, but it felt good being here with her in his arms. Yesterday had been hard and he hadn’t planned on subjecting her to the remnants of his frayed nerves, nor was he ready to show her what happens to SWAT officers after a day like he’d had; having to kill someone so young was hard to digest, even for a veteran of the force. 

She had heard what had happened on the news; the videos of children and staff being carried out of the high school sent chills down her spine.  She needed to talk to him and to see him; she hadn’t heard that he’d been forced to take the kill shot until later. From her office, she’d scanned the crowd looking for familiar faces; both Dom and Hondo were the last to exit and until she exhaled, she hadn’t realized that she’d been holding her breath.  She hadn’t seen Hondo since he’d come to see her in the hospital. She still blamed him for what happened and the fact that she hadn’t heard from him since made things worse.

Demons, issues and denial of both seemed to come with the territory when dating a police officer; SWAT seemed to intensify those things.  After breaking up with Hondo a few years back, Nia promised herself that she would never walk down that path again, but here she was with Dominic Luca who at times seemed to have been even more scarred than Hondo. It had taken him several weeks to get her to go on a date with him and for now the two had made the decision not to tell anyone that they were together; especially Hondo.

Luca had no idea that Nia had been involved with Hondo when he began pursuing her, but he appreciated the fact that she shared that truth with him before agreeing to go out with him.  They were navigating tricky waters; Hondo was a good friend, the closest thing to a brother next to his biological brother Terry.  Keeping things from his friend seemed wrong because trust was sometimes the only thing that kept them alive in the field. After last night, Luca knew he couldn’t keep this relationship from Hondo much longer.

S.W.A.T. Headquarters – Morning –

Hondo felt foolish for the impulsive visit he’d paid to Nia’s home last night.  She had moved on and judging by what she wore to answer the door, he had interrupted something. He wasn’t jealous really, but he did feel a sense of loss.  Nia was a good person and she had been a good friend; the two of them had helped each other during a difficult period in their lives. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder who the new man was in her life. Everyone seemed to be moving on. First Nechelle and now Nia made it look so easy to walk away from him and find someone else to take his place. He couldn’t blame them, both deserved better than he was able to give and he was willing to admit that he was the reason that things didn’t work out. Still, Hondo wasn’t ready to deal with what really drove him to derail relationship after relationship; he wasn’t ready to admit that he had flaws that were too much for a good woman to handle.

Home of Herman Lauder – 

Things had gone well yesterday, and Herman was pleased.  Everything was going as planned and according to what his sources had shared, the city was on edge with no leads and no reason for the shooting and bombing at McGregor high school. It was only the beginning, but first Herman would relish in the havoc he had created. For now, he was in the mood to see his college sweetheart, and with that he pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed her number.

With all of his meticulous planning he hadn’t kept up with her as he should have. The last he’d spoken to her was when they’d gone to lunch several weeks ago. Hopefully, she would forgive him for ghosting her and agree to meet him for dinner this evening.  Gunfire and bombings always made him hungry.

Nechelle saw his number flash on her screen and she considered not answering his call; it had been a while since she’d spoken with him and with things changing so quickly in her life, she wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to stay in touch with him. Even though he was on his best behavior the last time she’d seen him, something was off with him and it scared her.

“Herman, hi.”

“Good morning, beautiful! How are you?”

“I’m good; it’s been a while.”

“My apologies, I’ve been dealing with some issues at work. Things have sort of blown up and I couldn’t help it. Forgive me?”

“I’ll think about it.” She joked half-heartedly.

“I was wondering if you’d let me make it up to you?”

“There’s no need, really, we’re good.”

“Ahh, come on. I feel bad, lunch, dinner?”

“Tonight is not good, I already have plans.”

“Then tomorrow…”

“Herman…”

“Come on, Nechelle was my offense that bad?”

“No of course not, it’s just…”

“What? Please don’t tell me you’re dating that cop, what’s his name?”

“His name is Hondo and no, I am not dating him.”

“Good, he seems a bit uptight.”

“Stop it, Herman.”

“Okay, I’m sorry. Please how about a drink; one drink that’s all.”

“Herman.”

“What is it my darling?”

“I’ve met someone.”

“Oh, uh okay. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you don’t stay in touch.” Herman chuckled lamely.

“But we’re still friends, right?” She asked hopefully.

“Of course; always.”

“Good, I’m glad.” Then. “Look Herman…”

“Hey, just do me a favor.”

“Sure!”

“If you ever need anything, call me.”

“Sure, okay.”

“I mean it Nechelle; anything.”

“I hear you; thanks.”

Herman heard the call end; he regretted not being more thorough in creating a place for Nechelle in his life. It was less about love and more about usefulness.  Herman saw how Nechelle and Hondo looked at each other when the three ran into each other at the community center. While at lunch, she’d insisted that things between her and the cop were over but the sound of her voice was not convincing. He was going to fit her in his plans to destroy the man who proved to be his biggest threat. Even with the two broken up, Herman was positive that Hondo would come running if he thought she was in danger.

S.W.A.T. Headquarters – 

The entire team had arrived and changed before Luca rushed into the locker room. He was disheveled, preoccupied and flushed as if he’d just worked out. He spoke to everyone; Deacon, Tan, Chris and Street and lastly, he nodded and spoke to Hondo.  Everyone except Hondo left leaving the two alone. Hondo watched while Luca unbuttoned his denim shirt and changed into his SWAT uniform.

“You good?” Hondo asked.

Luca looked over his shoulder as he pulled his SWAT T-shirt over his head.

“Yeah, I’m good.” Luca answered. “How’s Darryl?”

“The Doctor say he has a slight concussion and some bruises but he’s fine.”

“Yesterday, was close.” Luca began.

“Yeah, too close.”  Then. “Listen, remember what I said if you need to talk, Wendy is a miracle worker.”

Luca turned to face Hondo.

“Got it, boss.”

Hondo couldn’t help but notice that Luca was distant he assumed it was all a part of his coping mechanism after what he’d been forced to do yesterday. Without another word, Hondo headed toward the door. Then just as he stepped into the hallway, he turned back.

“Luca…”

“Yeah Hondo?”

“I hope you can make her happy; she’s had a rough time of things and she deserves someone who’ll treat her right.”

Luca’s jaw dropped slightly, and he didn’t know how to respond.  He felt as if he had stolen something from his best friend, but that wasn’t the truth. Nevertheless, Luca felt as if he had betrayed Hondo who had been nothing but a brother to him.  He and Nia had been careful, and he was baffled as to how he’d found out. There was no excuse, no words and no explanation. 

“Yeah…Listen…”

Hondo held up his hand waving off any attempt of an explanation.

“No, no I get it.” Then changing the subject. “Let’s get moving, Hicks wants us all in the command center, ASAP.”