Sharon let out a loud sharp breath as she brought a hand to her chest, it was her worst nightmare coming true. She couldn't hear anything being said around her, thoughts and fears were swirling together so quickly she felt as though the room might be spinning.
"It's been six hours," Nolan whispered. They knew it wasn't a good sign even without this latest news from robbery homicide.
"Are we sure that the phone pinged to the right location?" Paige moved towards Tao asking him, hoping for him to be wrong.
He shook his head, "I've checked four times, the last time his phone was on and active was six hours ago in front of Gwen LA."
Initially, Sharon thought that was a good sign, he wasn't answering any texts because he and Gus were working things out, enjoying a nice dinner together. As time ticked by however, the more her gut as a cop overpowered her mom instinct, his phone would be there but Rusty would not.
The ringing phone broke them all out of their thoughts. Tao was the first to get to it. Sanchez leaned in to listen, it was from Robbery/Homicide. The rest of the room watched them intently, trying to get a gauge from their bodies and when the two men seemed to lean back they assumed all was okay. Only a moment later did their faces go pale, their heads nodding as the continued to take notes, everyone else holding their breath.
"What happened?" Andy asked immediately once the phone hung up, and moving beside Sharon knowing she was going to need his support.
"Robbery/Homicide, called us after you put an alert out on Rusty's phone ma'am. It's last known position is the same location as a body of a deceased, Latino male," Tao stated as calmly as possible, but there was no way to completely hide the wavering of his voice.
"Ma'am," Sanchez started, "That's where they found Gus' body."
The words fell and filled the murder room. He wasn't one of them, but he also felt like one of the family. The investigated his sister's murder, they buried her, they brought him into the fold. Sanchez bowed his head, it still made him mad to think about what happened to this guy's sister and now this, it was too much tragedy for one family.
After the unexpected moment of silence which lasted mere seconds, but felt like ten minutes Tao picked up his noted and continued to read what R/H had determined thus far, "The valet saw the body in the alley way next to the restaurant when he was getting ready for his shift to start."
"What happened?" Andy reiterated his question from earlier, placing a hand to Sharon's back to steady her.
"It appears he was badly beaten. He put up one hell of a fight," Tao responded as he bowed his head.
"You'd expect that, he was former Army after all," Amy's somber voice filled the murder room.
Sharon took a deep shuttering breath, "And Rusty, was there any sign that he was there?"
Sanchez looked towards Provenza and then Flynn before brining his eyes to his Commander, "Uh, yes ma'am. His car was parked a few doors up from the restaurant. It appears that he stopped by to pick Gus up after his meeting. They found his phone in the alley not far from the body."
Andy put an arm around Sharon as he felt her begin to collapse next to him, her body shaking. Her boy was gone. Stroh had him, she was positive of that. But was he still alive. She let out a bone chilling scream, it was involuntary and not like her, but none of this was like the life she knew. Everything in the last few years had been topsy-turvey, she knew how to live the life she had six years ago, this life she was less sure. How could she live without Rusty, without her son? Her body shook as Andy slumped onto the floor next to her, holding her as tightly as he could. She felt his breath near her ear, talking to her, but she couldn't hear the words. The only thing she could hear was the thumping of blood between her ears.
Provenza turned away from the heartbreaking sight of his partner, his best-friend slouched over beside the woman he loved, their boss. He caught the look of the rest of the team, water filling their eyes in equal fear. He waved his arms at Tao and Sanchez, gaining their attention he gathered the rest of the team and ushered them down the hall into RACR. The couple, the parents needed a moment of privacy and while Provenza was breaking on the inside now wasn't the time for him to fall apart. They had a job to do, they needed to find Rusty and to do that they needed to find Stroh — the key was to solve these damn cases.
Provenza cleared his throat both to gain the attention of the beleaguered team, but also to gain control over his own emotions, then began barking orders. "Okay, Mike call back over to RH tell them we are taking over the case, tell them its connected to Stroh, then call Howard and see if he can give us some support. Sanchez go back to the hospital and talk to Buzz, then talk to the arson investigator, get everything we can, every last detail about that fire. Paige and Nolan, I want you to comb through every piece of footage we have from all three crime scenes there's gotta be something that we can find that connects these together. Sykes, you're with me, we need to go to the Commander's house and start working on the Stroh details."
The team looked at him a bit perplexed at the assignments. "Well what are you waiting for?" He barked again causing the team to jump into action. Now was not the time for crosswords and the ex-wife did it, it was time to kill this bastard that was wrecking his family.
Once the room was emptied Sykes stepped up to Provenza, "Sir, not that I mind, but why are we starting at the Commander's house?"
"One, we need to keep an eye on those two," he thumb his finger towards Sharon's office, "And two, because Rusty created his very own murder board digging into those crimes across the country that have been flagged as possible-Stroh cases."
Amy merely nodded in acknowledgement and followed the other man out of RACR and back to the murder room. Andy managed to pull Sharon back up to her feet, but she was still nearly inconsolable. Provenza and Flynn made eye contact, but shared no words. The two detectives busied themselves by gathering up their computers and paperwork they would need. It was unspoken, but they both knew the other reason they were going was protection detail, he had Rusty but there was a good chance he also wanted Sharon. He might try to come after her, but more likely, as he knew and they all knew she would get lured out in an effort to save her son. She'd done it once, barefoot and all. She would set aside her cop sensibilities and rush towards the danger like a mother. It was without a doubt her greatest strength, and weakness. Stroh knew it and it would be exploited.
As they heard Sharon begin to calm Provenza chanced moving closer to the couple for the first time since they got the news. "Sharon, we're going back to the condo. We're going to work the case from there."
Sharon was about to object, but Andy jumped in, "Rusty's board," was all he said. She nodded and complied. He guided her back into the office, giving her a moment to collect her things and pull herself together. He closed the blinds and stood beside her, "We'll get them, both of them."
He didn't specify any further, it was clear the intent. One alive. One dead. It was a prophecy set in motion six years ago that was finally coming to fruition. Another chill ran down her spine, but Andy's warm hand to her back stopped it from continuing. She took another deep breath and turned to face him, "We will."