Wars And Rumors Of Wars Pt. 1

“Nothing is given to man on earth – struggle is built into the nature of life, and conflict is possible – the hero is the man who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen.” – Andrew Bernstein

Federal Building – Downtown Los Angeles – Morning –

Hondo had been ignoring the FBI’s request for a meeting for the last few days.  He was busy and he wasn’t in the mood for more warnings of consequences for refusing to stop looking into Herman Lauder’s business dealings. 

There had already been consequences; Nia had been seriously injured because he had gone to her for help and he had been kidnapped and beaten nearly to death because of his stubbornness.  For all practical purposes he had stopped looking but he was far from finished with Lauder.  He’d learned the hard way that Lauder would stoop to any level to continue business as usual.  

Hondo had no intentions in meeting with the feds until Cmdr. Hicks ordered him to do so.  The FBI had contacted Hicks and stressed the importance of seeing Hondo immediately. Now he felt like a disobedient child being sent to the principal’s office. He didn’t like it; he didn’t like it at all.

Office of Special Supervisory Agent Bruce Hammerlind – Director, Special Task Force Against Domestic Conspiracies –

“Sgt. Harrelson, the director will see you now.”

Hondo followed the younger man down the cold quiet hallway to a large room.  Stepping inside the sparsely furnished office, Hondo was surprised to see Cmdr. Hicks seated in front of the director’s desk.  He also recognized the agents who had paid them a visit a few months earlier.

As Hondo took the empty seat next to his boss, he shot him a puzzled look.

“Commander, I didn’t expect to see you here?”

“I just wanted to make sure someone had your back.” He whispered under his breath.

“Sgt. Harrelson, you’re a difficult man to track down.” Hammerlind began taking his seat behind the large desk.

“Fighting crime doesn’t leave much room for idle chit chat with the FBI.” Hondo responded sarcastically.

“Easy Hondo.” Hicks mumbled.

“I’m here now.” 

“Agent Walters and his team paid you and your team a visit regarding Herman Lauder.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“You all were ordered to stop your investigation into Mr. Lauder.”

“My team wasn’t investigating Lauder, I was. His name came up in connection with another case that SWAT was working on.”

“Nevertheless, I thought it would be prudent if our two departments were on the same page.”

“If this is about the flash drive…”

“No not exactly.”

“Then what?”

“You need to know the real reason we called you off Herman Lauder.”

Hondo shot a confused look at Hicks.

“I’m heading a joint task force with the treasury department, homeland security and the FBI looking into Herman Lauder. We’ve been building a case against him for the last three years and your interference could jeopardize our work.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“We didn’t realize your connection to one of our agents could be a problem.”

“What? Who?”

The creaking of the door drew everyone’s eyes to the far wall where the office door slowly opened.  Hondo was shocked to see her, Hicks not so much; he’d known for a while what she’d been up to.  

“Hello Hondo.” She approached the group.

She’d missed him and she’d thought that her time away would help her get over the feelings she had for him; she was wrong.  He would have questions; questions that couldn’t be answered with answers that would make sense or that would justify what had happened during her time away.

“Jessica?”

So many thoughts and emotions flooded him, and he couldn’t speak past uttering her name.  He’d never admitted it, not until this very moment, but he’d missed her. No one knew that at one time the two had risked their careers and their jobs, to love each other.  Their relationship was an act of defiance and their breakup had broken him. Seeing her now made him angry and it was a feeling that was stronger than his desire to pull her into his arms and risk everything…again.

“Agent Cortez informed us that you two worked closely together when she was with SWAT.” Hammerlind began.

“Uh…yes, Capt. Cortez was my commanding officer.” Hondo confirmed staring coldly at Jessica.

“Yes, so I’ve been told.”  Hammerlind added. “We felt it was only a matter of time that Lauder would connect the two of you together and then our case would be blown.”

Hondo took a few steps away to clear his head and to regain his composure. 

“Now that Sgt. Harrelson knows the deal, I’m sure he’ll make sure not to make any moves against Mr. Lauder; right Hondo?” Hicks assured.

“Yes Sir.” Hondo answered.

“Thank you, Sergeant; Commander.”

He wouldn’t look at her; Jessica knew Hondo and she’d broken his heart again.  She should have told him before now.  He had been more than her lover he was her friend. She couldn’t help but feel as if she’d betrayed him somehow.

“Are we done here?” Hondo asked with restrained anger.

“Yes, yes we’re done.”  Then with false sincerity, “Sergeant, I hope there’s no hard feelings.”

Hondo looked up with eerie calm and stared in the eyes of Special Supervisory Agent Hammerlind.

“Hard feelings? No, director not at all. Now, if we’re done here, I really need to get back to SWAT.”

Hammerlind was slightly caught off guard as he shrugged and nodded that the meeting was over.  Without so much as a glance at Cmdr. Hicks or Jessica, Hondo quickly left the room.

She needed to talk to him; to explain and to make him understand. He’d dismissed them; her but she couldn’t leave things like this.  With the case proceeding rapidly against Lauder, she wasn’t sure when she would see him again. Jessica rushed from the office, past Hicks hoping to catch him before it was too late.

“HONDO!”

Hondo heard her calling his name, but he kept walking. He knew she wouldn’t be able to catch him and he wasn’t ready to hear anything she had to say.

“Let him go.”

Hicks’ voice came from behind her and she turned to face her former boss.

“I need to talk to him!”

“He’s not ready to talk to you. Just give him some time.”

“Time? How much time. We’re about to close the case on Lauder.”

“Really, that close?”

“Yes, I think so. I know he thinks Lauder is responsible for Buck’s death.”

“He wants him for more than that, Jessica.”

Jessica felt the tears welling in her eyes; tears that were for more than just a lost love.

“How do I fix this commander?”

“You can’t fix this.  Lauder took something from Hondo and he’s not going to be right until he gets it back.”

Home of Hondo Harrelson – Evening –

Darryl and his Pops were out of the house for the evening and for that he was grateful.  Hondo needed space and he needed quiet and time to be alone.  He was exhausted and he was angry and confused.  He’d given Jessica his heart and he’d even offered to sacrifice himself to save her.  The two of them had worked hard to achieve the things that others like them could never hope to accomplish. But it came at a cost.

Jessica stopped her car across the street from Hondo’s house. She saw the lights on, and she wondered if this was a good idea.  She ached for him and nothing and no one would change that.  Moving on to the FBI had not made her forget him and what they’d had. Hondo had begged her to be careful, but she had taken chances with her life. 

Hondo knew that he would never see her again and he wanted to pretend that it would be okay.  He knew that the worst lies were the ones we told ourselves. Seeing her today, made him wonder if she had known what Lauder had done to him and to Nia. He tried to push aside the questions and the anger, he needed to sleep and begin again tomorrow.  He’d gotten quite good at denying that Jessica had taken a piece of his soul when she left. He was good. He was fine. He knew he was lying to himself.

Jessica walked across the street and climbed the steps.  Her heart sped up, but she was determined to see him even if it meant him turning her away.

Hondo wasn’t expecting company and he thought for a moment of not answering the door. Curiosity got the better of him. Looking through the peephole, he thought again of not answering the door.

Jessica breathed a sigh of relief when the door opened even though he didn’t look happy to see her.

“What are you doing here, Jessica?”

“We need to talk, Hondo.”

“It’s been two years you want to talk now?”

“Please Hondo.”

As she passed him into the house, he wondered how he would be strong and how he would be able to remain angry with her.  She wanted to talk; so did he.