Sharon felt his eyes boring a hole into her back for the last hour. She understood that he was anxious to continue their conversation, and she did feel badly that they were stopped short, but she wasn't entirely sure there was more to say. While she had told him that she would talk to him more about her desire to postpone the wedding, she hadn't changed her mind. Not that she would ever admit it aloud to anyone, except perhaps her priest, she had toyed with canceling the whole thing entirely. It wasn't because of cold feet, she kept saying to herself, at this point though she wasn't sure if she was trying to convince or reassure herself of that point. Something just didn't feel right and she couldn't put her finger on exactly what that was, until she did sort it out she didn't want to walk down the aisle. She couldn't imagine committing herself to Andy, before God and their families without first exploring her hesitancy. Either way the murder room during an active case was neither the time nor the place for him to be so focused on her.
Tao's voice was fading into the background and she knew she needed to pull it back together. She darted a glance in Andy's directions, full of daggers, the intent was clear. He stared back at her and for a moment seemed unwilling to back down. After a moment he gave a near imperceptible shrug and turned his attention away from her. The exchange didn't go unnoticed, Provenza glanced between the pair and noticed the palpable tension in the air. There was more that just this case on their minds, of that he was certain.
"Okay," Sharon put her hands up to stop Tao's long winded explanation, about something that she already had forgotten about. The team turned around in their chairs and focused on their Commander.
"I want Goldman in my office within the hour," she cast the broad directive in no one's general direction, "Clearly, we are missing pieces to this puzzle and its time we got some answers on his current relationship status with our Mr. Croelick."
The room fell into silence, no one stood or any made movements. Sharon glared at the blank stares wondering if she had slipped into speaking in tongues, but before she could phrase it as an order Provenza got the hint and jumped up from his chair.
"You heard the Commander, let's get a move on," he said whipping his jacket around his round body, "Paige, Nolan you're with me." He gave his partner a pointed look before moving towards the elevators.
It took Andy a second to get what Provenza was trying to say, his brain just wasn't in the game today. Nearly every fibre of his being was focused on his fiancé and her desire to postpone their nuptials. He was finally beginning to understand Sharon's adamant need for separation of work and personal, it could definitely be a problem. Before today, his only workplace distractions were focused on the ratio of her skirt length to heel height, or the chance glance at her cleavage. They were lovely, delightful distractions but nothing that ever fully took his mind away from a case. This however was challenging the very notion of them being able to work together. He was unfocused and she knew it, he had to get out of her space for awhile for both their sakes. Finally moving his mouth, words formed and came out, "Right, uh, Tao why don't you help Julio and I with the tech stuff in RACR." The excuse was lamely worded, he knew it and from the look of his colleagues they knew it too. He made a hasty retreat, hoping to regroup and gain some composure. If he pissed her off at work for focusing on them he knew it would really screw up his discussion points for moving forward with the wedding.
Sharon shook her head as she watched them scurry down the hallway, and rubbed her temples. She was getting a headache between this frustratingly odd case to her complicated personal life there seemed to be no moment for a reprieve. She stepped into her office and practically plopped down in her chair, a rare action for her.
"Yes Lieutenant," Sharon said answering her phone from the break room where she was waiting for a new batch of coffee to finish brewing.
"We have a problem," he replied.
Sharon felt the waves of a migraine coming on, it seemed as though she heard nothing but that phrase from her second in command for the past three weeks. "What happened?" She replied curtly.
"He's missing," he stated with all the seriousness his voice could muster.
It was the last thing she expected to hear him say, she assumed he was fighting her detectives tooth and nail about coming to the station, "What do you mean he's missing?"
"His secretary hasn't heard from him in nearly 3 days, apparently no one has, they were waiting the requisite 72 hours before contacting missing persons," he replied.
Sharon thought back quickly to her run in with him at the courthouse and then the continuance he requested, "He was out of town, correct? Do we know if he returned from that trip? Or where he was going?"
"The secretary believes he made it back to Los Angeles. He went to San Francisco on business, flew. The last email she got from him was just before his flight boarded, nothing since," he let out a sigh growing frustrated by these road blocks they kept facing with this case.
"OK, get back and we will regroup. I'll have Mike check with LAX security cameras and verify he made it back to Los Angeles, if not we will have to get SFPD involved," she didn't wait for his reply as she hung up already headed towards RACR, the coffee all but forgotten at this point.
The space-age door opened, and she was surprised to only find Andy sitting in the room.
"Where is everyone?" She asked turning around futility as if they were hiding beneath her skirt.
"Casey called, Julio is headed back to the hospital. Mike stepped out to make a call to Cathy, I guess his youngest son has decided he doesn't want to go back to university this semester," he shrugged his shoulders, "Kid supposedly found the job of his dreams."
She nodded as she thought back to her own kids and the conversations they had at various points, Ricky in particular about walking away from school and doing his internet computer stuff.
"Is everything with Buzz okay," she asked concerned as she remembered the first thing he said.
"Yeah, I guess he woke up," he let a small smile form at his lips, "Guy's eager to give his statement."
She could understand, it sounded entirely like Buzz the reserve-officer in training, he'd want to do everything in his power to help. It was a trait that would make him a great cop one day. Sadly she had to shift focus, as much as she wanted to run down to the hospital and check on him she couldn't, she was needed her and her team had a new hurdle to investigate, "The Lieutenant called, we now have a missing lawyer to find. I need you to get Mike back here, we need to pull up the cameras at LAX and begin our search."
Andy placed his hands on the desk and pushed his chair back. She didn't need to say anything else, he understood the gist — this new development also meant there was no chance they'd be returning home to continue that conversation he so dearly wanted to finish.
"Julio," Buzz choked out his throat was dry and sore from the the fire. Casey jumped out of the chair and brought a small pink cup with a straw to his lips and encouraged him to take a sip before continuing. Buzz looked up at his sister and gave a nod of thanks.
"Buzz, it's okay, we can do this later when you're up to it," He moved closer to the bed so he could hear the younger man better.
"No," he squeaked, "I saw something before the explosion." He took a deep breath, "A man was by the propane tank," he paused and took a deep breath which caused him to break out into a coughing fit. Casey once again held the water for him as he took another sip and the coughing finally relented.
Julio waited patiently for Buzz to regain the strength to speak once more, "So you saw someone, there were a lot of firefighters and personnel around, are you sure it wasn't one them?"
Buzz shook his head, "I don't think so, he stared right at me then threw something down, turned and walked away. I started after him, but then—" his voice cut out but it didn't matter Julio was there he knew what happened after that, the tank exploded sending his friend to the hospital.
"Ok, we'll check cameras in the area and see if we can find our missing pyro-nutjob," Julio held his hand out to Buzz, "you stay here and get better. We've got it covered."
Buzz was about to protest before his sister interjected, "Thank you Detective, I'll keep an eye on him, making sure he doesn't get into too much trouble."
"There he is," Paige eagerly pointed out the obvious, as the team watched Goldman walk through Terminal 4 at LAX.
Sharon checked the time stamp, it was 8:28pm 08/28/17, confirming that he did make it back to Los Angeles three days ago. They watched the film continue as he moved from one screen to the next as different cameras picked him up. When he reached the arrivals street level he pulled out his phone while waiting.
"Can you zoom in Tao?" Provenza asked squinting at the screen, "Is he calling someone to pick him up?"
Before anyone else could respond Paige jumped in, "I think he's texting. If we can get the phone records we might be able to figure out who he was talking to."
Andy rolled his eyes, finding himself slightly more than his usual level of annoyance with the over-eager Paige. Sharon caught him and shook her head, while she found Paige in need of some corralling she was happy with the job she was doing and didn't want the others making her feel like she wasn't a welcomed member of the team.
"I'll call for a warrant for his phone records," Amy piped up and stepped out of RACR while the others returned their attention to the screens.
"Is he waiting for someone to pick him up?" Andy asked growing frustrated by sitting around the room watching this slime ball move through the airport. He didn't want anything to happen to the guy, but he had more pressing things to deal with at the moment.
Tao sped the film up and paused it as they watched him climb into the back seat of a black Prius, "I think it's an Uber, that must have been what he was doing on his phone."
The car pulled away and they lost him as it moved through the airport and onto Century Blvd, disappearing into the throngs of cars in the dark night of Los Angeles.
As the screens froze on the last frame they had of Peter Goldman, Sharon walked up and stared at the man that was literally a missing link in their case. She bowed her head thinking through everything that had happened to date, before turning around to the team. It was now early morning and everyone was exhausted having worked through the night. The best thing to do would be to go home and get some shut-eye. They wouldn't be able to get much done until the rest of the world woke up, but she had no desire to go home. Going home now would mean confronting Andy and she didn't have the energy for it.
"Why don't we take a break. Go home get a few hours of sleep," she looked down at her watch, "be back here by 8." It would give them 3-4 hours, it wouldn't be enough but it would have to do.
The team grabbed their things and slowly filed out of RACR, she stopped Andy on his way out, "I can't do this today. It's going to have to wait until we wrap this case, I'm sorry." She didn't wait for his response, she knew he'd be upset but she wasn't in the mood to hear it or argue about it.
Julio looked at the sight before him, it was all to familiar. A body stabbed, wrapped in plastic, and dumped near a park. He was surprised no one came across it sooner, given the summer heat the body was already heavily decomposed, the smell was so thick he knew the odor would stick to his clothes.
Sharon reached around on her nightstand blindly trying to find her phone, knocking it onto the floor in the process. She squinted at the clock without her glasses, just barely making out the blurry numbers at 6:15am. She let out a huff as she realized she had only managed to get about 30 minutes of sleep, "Hello?" She muttered into the phone still trying to get her bearings as she half hung off the bed in order to answer it in time.
"Ma'am," he turned away from the scene as he spoke into the phone, "we found a body."