His encounter with Arthur had left Hondo spent and wondering if all his and the others’ efforts to do good were in vain. The more they uncovered evil and battled it, the more it came for them, meeting them boldly at their front doors. All of them had seen and felt what violence and evil could do.
As a child, Street had been forced to participate in his mother’s plot against an abusive father and as a result, his childhood nearly destroyed him. Instead, he’d painfully shook the woman’s influence and its fallout to become a man of honor and compassion.
Then there was Deacon, their spiritual leader. An attack had nearly taken his entire family before his eyes, yet he continued to see the light often dragging Hondo and the others out of darkness with an ability to see that good always wins.
Luca, whose father was a career SWAT leader and had groomed his son to be a warrior against crime, had tried to teach his son, that only those that looked like them belonged. He’d failed and Luca had been a strong and loyal supporter of Hondo from day one.
Tan, the son of Chinese immigrants had witnessed assaults against his family simply because of their cultural identity. His marriage to Bonnie, a woman from privilege had created challenges, yet both had fought against prejudices that would have broken lesser couples.
Then there was Chris who stood flat-footed in her truth, refusing to be forced to choose who she could love, and refusing to accept labels and boxes that others desperately wanted her to settle for. She was a champion of the underdog, the defenseless and she had left her mark on the lives of everyone she touched.
The stories of struggle amongst his team and even his own were piling up and Hondo had lost count of the times when all of them could have thrown in the towel, but they didn’t. Each day, one by one they showed up to do it all over again. Even now, Hondo was still nursing wounds and having nightmares of a close call. He’d almost lost them all, Nechelle included.
Hondo stood at the kitchen counter peeling and deveining shrimp, preparing them for the gumbo that would draw the team to his house for a long overdue meal together. Cmdr. Hicks had seen the wear and tear on his team and insisted on a weekend of rest even before Hondo could request it and for that Hondo was grateful.
“Are you expecting an army?”
Hondo looked up as his father entered the room carrying a small box filled with the last of his possessions.
“Hey Pops. Nah, just making sure there’s enough for everybody.”
Pops placed the box near the front door and joined his son at the kitchen counter. The two men stood in silence cleaning shrimp, one by one, both in deep thought.
Daniel Sr. had watched from the background as his son struggled to hide his pain while pretending that he was okay. The elder knew better, he knew his son and he was far from okay. It wasn’t just his fight against the enemy who had followed him home from Mexico, it was the last year and consequences for his decisions and dealing with the outcome of trying to do the right thing.
It hadn’t been easy standing by, not being able to help his son. Hondo was strong and determined, fully rooted in his convictions and he had paid dearly for it. Still, Daniel Sr. was proud of his son; prouder than he could ever express.
“So, what are you getting into today, Pops?”
“Don’t worry about me and my business, I won’t be in your way.”
“That’s not what I meant. You’re always welcome, you know that.”
“Yeah, I know, just giving you a hard time, that’s all.”
Once again it was silent as the two continued working to get things ready to fill the large pot on the stove.
“I know that these last several months have been tough, son.”
Hondo struggled to keep his emotions controlled. It had been hard to not lose it. Nothing had been easy about the last several months.
“I’m proud of you; in case I haven’t said it enough, I’m proud of you.”
Hondo shook his head without saying a word afraid that if he did, he wouldn’t be able to stop the tears from falling.
Home of Dominic Luca and Jim Street –
Chris turned to watch him sleep. It was early but she was awake replaying their night together over and over. She loved him; she was in love with Jim Street. It had taken a long time to get here but she was here, next to him. Chris wondered why she had resisted him for so long; she knew the answer, but she refused to dwell on old fears and things in her past that had made her feel unworthy of love and happiness. She had run out of excuses and places to run and now she was home.
She loved how his voice sounded scratchy and soft at the same time. She couldn’t help but smile as she planted a kiss on his lips.
“How long have you been awake?”
“You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”
He smiled and returned the kiss then running his hand down her bare arm. He was lost in her eyes and she in his; both wondering if the last few days had been a dream.
“I was just thinking,” she began.
“Thinking about what?”
“About how good it feels not to have to hide this, us.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Is this real, is it really happening?”
“It’s real,” he assured her.
The next several minutes were spent quietly with Street renewing his grip around her small frame. Both were aware that it would soon be time to make their way to Hondo’s for a much needed get together. It had been a long time since the team had been treated to their team leader’s special gumbo recipe.
“I’m worried about Hondo,” Chris began.
“He’s so concerned about everybody else, that he was ready to go against Arthur and his army alone,” Street added.
“Why would he do that?”
“I’m not sure. It’s hard for him to ask for help. He doesn’t believe he deserves the help,” said Street.
“He takes care of all of us so now it’s time for us to take care of him.”
Street smiled and placed a light kiss on her forehead. She was right, Hondo had placed all of them before himself and now it was time for them to repay him.
Home of Hondo Harrelson – 2 Hours later…
One by one the team had arrived, with Street and Chris being the last. Jim rang the doorbell and the two waited to be let inside. Just before the door opened Street planted a sweet kiss on Chris’ lips. The two pulled apart just as the door opened. Hondo smiled and shook his head stepping aside to let them in.
The others greeted the late-comers as they rounded the corner into the kitchen.
“You’re just in time, we were just about to get into this gumbo,” Luca announced.
Nechelle hugged Chris warmly and handed her a bowl. Deacon wrapped is arm around Street and began teasing the younger man.
“We were wondering if you two would make it,” he whispered.
“No way we would miss this.”
“Eat up everybody! There’s plenty, even for leftovers,” Hondo shouted over the noisy group.
He was happy that they were here. He needed the distraction and he wanted to have them all in one place for reasons other than work. It felt good, like an extension of a family that had been created by choice.
Hondo hadn’t heard Deacon approach; the light tap on his shoulder made him flinch slightly. He turned and smiled at his longtime friend.
“I’m glad Annie was able to come.”
“Her mom has the kids for the weekend, so we get some alone time.”
“I’m sure that doesn’t happen often.”
“No, it doesn’t but I guess you’ll learn that soon enough.”
The two chuckled and continued to watch the others. Hondo was happy to see Nechelle and Annie getting along.
“It’s good to see our ladies together,” said Hondo.
“Annie really likes Nechelle. They have a lot in common.”
“Yeah, you’re right. They both have a heart for the underdog, and the community.”
“I love watching Annie researching cases and working to right some wrongs that have happened; Nechelle and the work she does with the community center. We need more of that,” Deacon added.
Hondo chuckled at Luca who was holding up an empty bowl from across the room. Shaking his head and smiling he seemed to lose himself in thought. Deacon noticed. He was worried about his friend who insisted on taking care of everyone except himself. He’d noticed the cracks, everyone else had too. Hondo had invited them all for a meal so that he could examine them silently from the distance it seemed and to keep them all close as if by simply having them there he could keep them all safe.
Unbeknownst to him, the others had come with their own collective agenda and that was to look after their leader and to remind him that he wasn’t alone in the fight and to show him that he was appreciated and loved. Chris was the first to break away from the others. As she approached Deacon nodded knowingly.
“I’m going to make sure Luca doesn’t eat himself into bad health,” he joked.
Hondo smiled at both Deacon and Chris. He was on to them and so he waited for Chris to speak.
“Whoah, I’m not your boss anymore.”
“Yeah maybe…look Hondo…”
“We really miss you around S.W.A.T. I miss you.”
“I miss you, all of you too.”
“The last month has been…” she began.
“Has been what?”
“On one hand we miss you like crazy and if there was any way I could get you back…then on the other hand, I’ve never seen Street so happy. He’s lighter, he comes in smiling and he’s optimistic.”
“I really miss S.W.A.T. but I feel so fulfilled at Mama Pina’s house. Those women come from lives of no hope and the place is a refuge and a place where now they can have a future. I love being a part of that.”
“I know, I know. I respect you and what you’re doing, I do. You’re happy, Street is happy so how can I not be happy for you both?”
“Thank you, Hondo, for everything.”
“You don’t owe me a thank you. You and Street just keep making each other happy.”
“And you, Hondo, are you happy?”
“I have all of you who are like my family, I’m with the woman of my dreams who’s about to make me a daddy, why wouldn’t I be happy?”
“I still see the weight on your shoulders, I see it in your eyes.”
“Come on Chris you’re starting to sound like Dr. Wendy.”
“You deserve to be happy.”
“This is supposed to be a day to relax and eat and drink ourselves silly.”
“But you don’t believe it do you Hondo?”
One by one the others approached forming a tight semi-circle around him. Street wrapped his arms around Chris, Nechelle took her place by Hondo’s side and smiled lovingly at him. They had risked everything for him, each time willing to give up their careers and their lives. He didn’t feel worthy and had he the choice in the matter he would have forbidden them from making such a sacrifice for him.
“She’s right, you know,” Luca added. “We love you. You know that right?”
“Besides, you make really good, gumbo,” Street teased.
The sound of the front door drew their attention to the front of the house. Daniel Sr. stepped inside.
“You better listen to them, son.”
“Pops what are you doing here?”
“Your mother sent me over to get some of that gumbo.”
The senior Harrelson shrugged his shoulders and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Okay, okay, I get it really, I do. I can’t save the world, and I can’t keep everybody safe.”
“Not by yourself anyway,” Luca interrupted.
Deacon stepped forward and waited until he had Hondo’s undivided attention.
“We’re all fighting the same battle for the same cause Hondo, but we’re only human. We’re earthen vessels, jars of clay and whether you believe in God or not, I’d like to believe that we’ve been given this work for a reason; it’s our calling. We’re flawed, and our bodies can be bruised and even destroyed but we believe in this fight between good and evil and whether we win or lose, we’ll do it together.”
“We know you have our backs Hondo,” Street added. “More importantly, we have yours.”
“No matter what!” Chris added.
Hondo eyed them one by one, and he saw the determination and commitment, not only to him but to their cause, their calling as Deacon had so eloquently named it. He knew that often, it would feel as if they’d lost the battle, but each victory no matter how few or small was worth it; more than worth it.
Hondo nodded and pulled them all in for a group hug. Yeah, it was cheesy but so what. Hondo was able to answer Chris’s question now and he had no doubt. He was happy, happier than he’d ever been in his life. Arthur hadn’t beat him on the contrary. He dealt the man a blow that he’d never recover from.
Now here they were in Hondo’s home, eating gumbo and enjoying each other’s company. In this very room, he saw his past, his present and his future and all he could do was smile at the faces gathered around him waiting for him to acknowledge his understanding of the real reason they’d all gathered today. It was love pure and simple. It was brotherhood and family and courage and freedom to make choices that would lead to happiness.
Home of Dominic Luca and Jim Street – Several hours later…
“That was a nice thing you did for Hondo today.”
Street watched her as she sat in front of the mirror wrapped in only a towel. She hated compliments and he loved how she blushed whenever anyone acknowledged her.
“We did it, all of us.”
“Yeah, but it was your idea, even if we all were thinking about it.”
“Maybe, I just worry that he won’t remember that what he does really matters to all of us.”
“I think after today, it will be hard for him to forget.”
Jim pulled her to her feet and turned her to face him. Her hair was still wet from their shower, but it didn’t matter. He kissed her deeply and she returned the kiss. The week had been a busy one for them both, but they relished in every moment they spent together. If they’d learned anything over the last five years, it was that life was precious and uncertain and the real enemy was fear. Chris had promised herself and Street that her fears would never rule her life or be allowed to steal her happiness any longer. She regretted the lost time, but she treasured what she had now.
Street had been patient and for that Chris was grateful. She felt lighter somehow, she realized that doubt and fear were heavy, too heavy a burden for anyone to carry alone. She finally got it and now she was ready to stop wandering aimlessly, pretending that what she had accepted from life was enough. She had been lost for so long but now she had found where she was safe…she’d found home. Whenever she felt lost and confused all she needed to do was to look in his eyes and his smile would lead her back to the place where her heart belonged.
Home of Hondo Harrelson –
Nechelle put the final dishes away and joined Hondo on the couch. As she sat next to him, he pulled her into his side and planted a light kiss on her head.
“Are you good?” She asked.
“I’m better than good.”
“You all needed this.”
“Yeah, we did. Did you know?”
Nechelle pulled away and looked up at him.
“Did I know what?”
“That they were going to gang up on me?”
“No, I didn’t know but I’m glad they did. You needed the reminder.”
“Oh, I did, did I?”
Hondo pulled her closer as she laid her head on his shoulder.
“Yes, you did,” she chuckled.
He wasn’t sure if she were telling the truth or not, but he appreciated what they had all tried to do for him.
She looked up before placing her head on his shoulder again.
“…for loving me, for giving me a second chance and for giving me son.”
Nechelle chuckled, it was much too early in her pregnancy to know if it were a boy or girl.
“It’s way too early, how do you know it’s a boy?”
“I know,” he smiled before placing a sweet kiss on the top of her head. “I just know.”
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
*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*
Photo credit: ParamountPlus.com