Unknown Location –
Hondo stopped his car near the back entrance of the familiar warehouse. It was the same place where he had been brought and held for hours, beaten and tortured until his team arrived. Jessica had promised that she could handle herself but this, no one could handle this…he hadn’t been able to handle this. Black Betty pulled in next to him and he anxiously waited for the rest of his team to jump out. Hondo split the team and sent them to make their entrance through the front and side doors. Nodding, they headed out with Deacon staying with Hondo.
“Are you ready?” Deacon asked.
“Yeah, let’s get her out of there.” Hondo replied.
On Hondo’s mark the team entered the building under the cover of Jessica’s screams and Maurice’s taunting and loud promises to bring her life to an end. She was still alive and breathing giving Hondo a small inkling of hope. He learned a lot about Maurice and he knew that he was a man who admired his own work. He strived for perfection in the exacting of pain and misery. He loved watching the pain, hearing the cries for mercy; today that would be his downfall, today it would give Hondo and the others just enough time to save Jessica.
“I’m still waiting for that apology!”
Jessica lay curled up on the floor trembling, not out of fear but, from the cold; she had already made peace with her fate. She had long passed the point of praying for mercy and her body was numb. There wasn’t anything else that the beast who was now circling her like a wild animal could do to her except end her life. She almost welcomed the end.
“I don’t make a habit of apologizing to thugs.” She moaned. “You’re a thug and a coward!”
Maurice laughed at the absurdity of what he was witnessing. He had beaten her within inches of her life, and she was still begging for more. She wouldn’t break, she wouldn’t beg, and she wouldn’t shut up!
Hondo and Deacon were close enough to hear the voices, Chris and Street had found their way to the upper rafters and now had their guns trained on Maurice. Tan and Luca had found another entrance to the large room and waited for Hondo’s orders.
Hondo, Deacon, Luca and Tan rushed through the doors with their weapons drawn. Maurice quickly moved toward Jessica, but things slowed down…time stood still and ran out all at the same time. Voices and commands were muted as Hondo raised his gun.
Chris had the shot, the perfect shot. Her friend was helpless, and she was determined not to miss. Maurice was a beast and he deserved to be taken down. All of them knew that he wouldn’t go easy.
Luca with Tan bringing up the rear understood perfectly what had to be done. No one should have to endure what his former boss was enduring. The decision was easy, he had a shot too, the perfect shot.
Deacon knew that there was no other outcome, no other way to reason their way out of this; too much had happened. He was expected to be the calming voice of reason, but he had no words, not this time.
He’d humiliated her and beaten and tortured her. Hondo knew firsthand what she had gone through. Even from a distance he could see the damage and he felt as if it were his fault somehow. He had the perfect shot too, and later he would barely remember pulling the trigger before the others had a chance to do the same.
Maurice had managed to reach her grabbing her by her hair. His plan, futile as it was, was to use her as a human shield but he had run out of time. The bullet struck his temple and sent shock waves through the room. He was stubborn, and for a brief moment he thought he had the power to defy death. Slowly he turned with the blood seeping from his skull and stared defiantly at Hondo.
Hondo watched the smile creep across the man’s face; he was dead but refused to believe that he was dead. The room was silent as they all watched Maurice’s body float like a feather to the ground. The dust on the floor took flight as if dancing a victory dance around the dead man’s body. But there was no victory here, not today, perhaps not ever.
St. Mary’s Community Hospital –
Commander Hicks had joined the rest of the team and now they all waited to hear from the doctors on Jessica’s condition. Hondo had secluded himself in the far corner while the others kept their distance. They all were upset but Hondo was inconsolable which made them all wonder and speculate.
“I’ve never seen Hondo like this.” Chris began.
“Me either. It’s like he’s…” Street added.
“In love?” Chris interrupted.
“Determined.” He finished. “Wait, do you think that Hondo and Cortez…” he was afraid to finish his sentence.
“It would definitely explain some things.”
Hicks stood near the doorway keeping an eye on his team leader. He was the only other person who knew about Hondo and Cortez’s past and until now he had managed to keep it that way but judging by Hondo’s behavior and his demeanor now, it would be tough to keep their past from the others.
Hicks turned to see Deacon next to him.
“Yeah. Are you worried about Hondo?”
“No, no, he’ll be fine.”
Deacon noticed the look on the commander’s face. He was hiding something; something that Deacon had suspected for a long time. For now, he wouldn’t push besides it wasn’t his right to know. In the meantime, he’d keep an eye on his friend and he’d have his back like always.
A tall dark-haired man dressed in green scrubs stepped through the door and was immediately surrounded by the anxious group.
“I’m Dr. Sanchez, the attending on duty treating Ms. Cortez.”
“How is she doc?” Hicks interrupted.
“Surprisingly, she’s good. She took quite a beating, but she sustained no serious injuries. What happened to her was done by a professional. He wanted to cause pain, lots of pain and he wanted her to be around long enough for him to enjoy himself.”
“Sick bastard!” Hondo mumbled.
“Uh, doctor…” No one had the courage to ask what was really on their minds, except Chris. “Was she…?” She began.
“If you’re asking if she was sexually assaulted, the answer is no, she was not.”
There was a collective sigh of relief among them while the doctor continued.
“How long will she be here?” Deacon asked.
“I’d like to keep her overnight for observation. If there are no problems, I’ll discharge her in the morning.”
“Thanks doc!” Said Luca.
“Not a problem.” Then just before leaving, “Oh, I almost forgot. She’s asking for a Sgt. Harrelson.”
“That’s me.” Hondo raised his hand and made his way past the others.
Jessica saw the worry in his eyes…and the guilt. It wasn’t his fault, but he’d insist on bearing the blame, nonetheless. She knew that much about him; it was part of why she’d fallen for him years ago. It was also what made him impossible.
Even before he reached her bed, he began to take inventory of her injuries. She should have never been allowed to put herself in danger, but she insisted. The job wasn’t worth it, bringing down Herman Lauder wasn’t worth it; even now the man was still free.
“Hey.” He began.
“Hey yourself.” She responded.
The silence was crushing for them both as his eyes continued to survey her bruises. Now she felt guilty.
“Don’t…” She began.
“Don’t what, Jess?”
“Don’t blame yourself, Hondo!”
“You are. I know you, and you are!”
Hondo gently took her hand in his. It felt so small and delicate in his and he wondered how she had endured her time with Maurice.
“That was too close, Jessica; too close.” He whispered.
He was right, not because she couldn’t do her job but because they were dealing with super-sized beast, trying to fight a war with rules and order while their enemies had no boundaries, no moral compass and with an insatiable appetite for evil. No one could win against those odds. No one.
Hondo promised in fact, he had insisted on staying with her for the night. The others had come in to see her but now he was the only one still here. He watched her sleeping while simultaneously fighting his memories of his own battle with Maurice. He knew that until Lauder was in custody, this wasn’t over. Silently, he renewed his vow to bring the man down at all cost.
Home of Herman Lauder – Evening
Herman was disappointed that Nechelle had not been available for lunch. He needed a distraction from what had happened that morning. Her assistant as well as a few volunteers were at the center, otherwise, he would have insisted that she join him.
Shortly after getting home, Herman received a phone call. Maurice had been killed in an abandoned warehouse. It wouldn’t be long before they would come for him and he needed to put some distance between himself and the law. So, he hurriedly packed a few bags, grabbed his passport and cash from the safe and headed to his car.
Throwing his things in the trunk and jumping behind the wheel, Herman felt as if he had failed. He’d made a promise to his father and he had only begun fulfilling that promise. He wasn’t a loser, and he wasn’t a quitter; he’d be back, that was a promise, and his first order of business was killing Hondo and everyone who meant anything to him.
“Love has its place, as does hate. Peace has its place, as does war. Mercy has its place, as do cruelty and revenge.” – Meir Kahane
*We do not own S.W.A.T. or its characters. We are not affiliated with the show or its creators. We have created our original characters that will come out to play from time-to-time*