Chapter Five: The Confrontation
John arose from his office couch with a slight crick in his neck from the 1 hour nap he had managed to get in from 6:30 to 7:30 am. As he walked toward his desk, he saw the brown paper bag from the dinner that he never opened and everything he had witnessed came flooding back. All night, as he tried to study the files for the Killing Club murders, he kept getting flashes of Lucien Teng’s lips on Evangeline’s. When it came down to it, he thought of Evangeline’s lips as his and no one else’s. How dare that smug, arrogant Teng even touch Evangeline? He just didn’t like it, but he knew he had no right to complain. Today is not the day for me to run into Lucien because I’m not quite sure what I’ll do.
As that last thought was drifting into the air, Lucien Teng appeared at the door of Lt. John McBain’s office.
“Knock, knock,” Lucien said with a half smile on his face. “Can I speak to you for a minute Lt. McBain?”
With a stare that would have bored a hole between Lucien’s eyes if it had been a laser, John shortly replied, “Now’s not a good time, Teng. Can we talk later?”
Lucien could tell that he was pushing his luck, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to tip toe around the moody detective. He stepped into John’s office and said, “Really, I just have one question about your report on the Paul Kramer murder. It will only take a second to clear up, I’m sure.”
With a look of disgust on his face, John said, “What’s the question?”
“Why does your report end with the digging up of Judge Hernandez’s grave? Why haven’t you been working on this case any more? Have you lost interest in who killed Paul Kramer?”
With that last statement, John sat up straight in his chair. In as calm a tone as he could muster, John replied, “First of all, that was more than one question. Second of all, the Commissioner is running this investigation now.”
“That’s just it,” Lucien continued. “I think some critical time was lost when the case information had to be switched over to the Commissioner. I’m betting that you know or heard something at the time that didn’t seem to matter, but now it will.”
Standing up from his chair, John said, “What do you mean? I check in with the Commissioner regularly. It’s just that I have a new serial killer to track down and I’ve been a little busy with that.”
“I heard you were one of the best investigators the FBI ever had because you were so tenacious. You really expect me to believe that it was so easy for you to walk away from this investigation. Is it that your girlfriend Natalie Vega there,” Lucien pointed to her picture on the Killing Club murder information board, “is no longer involved and so the investigation lost some of it’s urgency for you?”
John took one step around his desk as he said, “Lucien, you need to leave my office now before I forget my Quantico training and do something I shouldn’t.”
“Why so confrontational McBain?” Lucien inquired. “I just want to get the best information I can on this case to solve it. Is that so wrong?”
As John took one more step toward Lucien, Nora came walking into John’s office. She could tell that a major confrontation was about to happen between these two men. She stepped in between them as she said, “What’s going on here fellows?”
John, holding Lucien in his gaze, said to Nora, “You need to get your guy out of my office now.”
Lucien retorted with, “What is your problem, Lieutenant?”
As Nora felt John move even closer to Lucien, she said, “Okay Lucien. I think you need to leave now. If you have any more questions for John, you can go through me and I’ll get you the answers. Obviously, you two won’t be having a peaceful working relationship.”
“Fine,” Lucien said as he walked out of John’s office. “I’ll get with you later to go over what I have and haven’t found.”
After Lucien walked out of his office, John walked over and slammed both his office doors. He then turned and stared incredulously at Nora.
Nora replied by saying, “What is your problem John? Did you stay here last night? Have you eaten or gotten any sleep? You look like hell.”
John, looking at Nora even more incredulously said, “What do you mean what is my problem? Why aren’t you asking Lucien what his problem is?”
“John,” Nora replied. “What just happened here? What is really bothering you?”
“Nothing’s bothering me, alright,” John snapped. “Can you just let me get back to work?”
“No,” Nora said. “I’m not leaving this office until you tell me what is up with you.” She planted herself in the chair facing John’s desk and sat there waiting for him to explain.
Finally, John sat in his chair and looked at Nora. He then said, “I saw Lucien and Evangeline making out in the park last night and it’s bothering me, okay. It was hard for me to witness and I just don’t understand what she’s doing.”
“What do you mean you don’t understand what she’s doing?” Nora asked.
“She’s doing what you told her to do John. She’s moving on. Isn’t that what you wanted for her? Didn’t you want her to move on and find someone that could give her all she deserves? Have you changed your mind about that?”
As John sat at his desk, staring quietly, Nora got to experience what Evangeline had been trying to describe to her friend for months. Evangeline had always told Nora that John would shut down when he was confronted with dealing with his true feelings for her and then he’d become silent.
“John, don’t say what you don’t mean. If you didn’t want Evangeline to go on with someone else, you shouldn’t have kept pushing her to.” Nora then stood up to walk out of his office and just before she disappeared out of the door, she said, “John, you obviously need to think some things over about what is going on in your life. Maybe you should take a couple of days off and get your head on straight. Mostly, you really need to get a good meal and about 24 hours worth of sleep. You need to take care of your health. Oh and one last thing, don’t take out your frustrations on Lucien.” With that last comment, she disappeared out his door.
As Nora sat at a table in Rodi’s waiting for Evangeline to meet her for lunch, she thought about John’s comment that he had seen Lucien and Evangeline making out in the park last night. She couldn’t wait to get the dirt from Evangeline, but she decided she shouldn’t let Evangeline know that John had seen her and Lucien.
Nora was still in thought when Evangeline walked up and sat down. “Hey Nora,” Evangeline said. “Sorry I’m a little late. I got held up in court.”
“No problem,” Nora replied. “I haven’t been here that long myself. Let’s order because I’m starving.”
As they waited for their burgers, Nora came up with an idea to broach the subject of Evangeline and Lucien. “You know Evangeline,” Nora started. “You never did thank me for introducing you to Lucien. You two seem to be spending a lot of time together lately. What’s going on with you two?”
“Nora,” Evangeline replied with a slight grin. “A lady never kisses and tells.”
“So you are saying that there has been some kissing going on?” Nora inquired.
“That’s not what I meant!” Evangeline exclaimed.
“Really?” Nora asked. “Has there been some kissing going on? As your matchmaker, I think I have the right to know.”
After a little hemming and hawing, Evangeline replied, “There was one kiss. “
“Give me all the dirt!” Nora squealed.
“There’s no dirt to shovel,” Evangeline replied. “We kissed last night in the park. It was too weird. Lucien is like a member of my family instead of a boyfriend. He told me that he feels the same way about me too. So, as a matchmaker, you’re a bust. However, as a friend maker, you’re batting a thousand.”
“Oh, so that explains it,” Nora said before realizing she’d said it in a whisper and not in her head.
“What?” Evangeline asked with a perplexed look on her face.
Nora sputtered, “Oh, that’s a pain. I thought you and Lucien would make a great couple because you two have so much in common.”
Warily, Evangeline replied, “We do have a lot in common and that’s why we make such great friends.” Evangeline knew that Nora had said something else before, but their order came before she could inquire more.
As they ate their lunch, Nora realized that John must have seen Evangeline and Lucien just as they were kissing. With a smirk, she thought that maybe seeing that kiss would be the catalyst that John needed to treat Evangeline the way she deserved to be treated.
John tried as best he could to concentrate on the Killing Club murders the rest of the day. When he decided he couldn’t get anymore done, he decided to take Nora’s advice. On his way out, he stopped by Bo’s office to tell him that he was burnt out and that he was going to take a couple of days off. He said he’d be working a little from home along with getting some much needed rest. Bo readily agreed to John’s plans.