"So, this Sydney Parker character forced you to do all this?" Inspector Beech asked when Leslie had finished recounting what had happened, starting with her meeting with Kelly. Beech didn't sound like he believed her.
"Yes," Leslie confirmed, trying to keep her voice as neutral as possible. "He told me that if I didn't shoot Jake Doyle, he would detonate another bomb. And he forced me to put on a bomb vest as well, probably to eliminate any witnesses afterward."
A shudder ran down Leslie's back at the thought of how she could have ended up. How she nearly did end up. Ruthlessly, she suppressed any horror she might have felt at her own situation and forced herself to focus on the issue at hand. People were most likely dead because of her and that was what was important right now.
"And if I understand you right, you claim you pretended to go along with this -- scheme of his."
"Sir!" Leslie protested. "I had no choice in the matter." The words sounded hollow to her own ears, like a feeble excuse. She should have gotten over her own pathetic feelings and done what was needed to save lives.
"Be that as it may," Beech went on, "the two of you went to the hospital, right? What kind of car did you take?"
"A black SUV," Leslie replied. "I think it must have been the same car Sydney Parker used the night before."
Beech wrote something down on his notepad, then looked critically at her. "I don't suppose you managed to get a glimpse at the registration number?"
"No. As I explained, I was blindfolded most of the time and when we arrived at the hospital, he made sure I didn't turn around," Leslie explained. Her frustration was growing as was the pain from her injuries, but she knew that the interrogation might continue for some time yet until Beech was satisfied that she was truly innocent.
Beech flipped back to an earlier page in his notes, before he continued. "Then you claim that Sydney kept you in sight the entire time, giving you no opportunity to tell anyone that you were under duress?"
"Yes, that is what I said. And, with all due respect, sir, the security footage will confirm all this."
"Yes," Beech replied at length. "The security footage. Interesting that you should bring that up. There is no security footage of the entire half hour before and after the explosion. It was somehow erased, most likely during the chaos of the evacuation."
"I couldn't possibly have anything to do with that!" Leslie protested.
"No, that's true, you couldn't because at that time you were too busy trying to kill Mr Doyle and holding both him and nurse Mitchell hostage. So, I know it wasn't you who erased the footage."
"It must have been Sydney Parker or one of his henchmen, then," Leslie suggested.
"I'm afraid that won't do, as it definitely can't have been Sydney Parker because at the time, he was in the custody of the organized crime group, following their search of the officers of the Parker's investment firm."
"When...where was he arrested?" Leslie stammered, her mind boggling at the bombshell Beech had just dropped.
"He was arrested at the firm around 6 a.m. this morning, where he was busy shredding documents when the officers arrived with a search warrant. You see, sergeant Bennett, your story just isn't possible," Beech concluded. "Also, Sydney Parker's alibi for the time when you claim he kidnapped you at the parking garage checks out. He was with one of his drug distributors, discussing expansion plans. The man in question confirms that they were together for several hours."
"A drug distributor whom he is certainly paying. He could have been lying," Leslie argued. She was grasping at straws at this point. She couldn't believe this was really happening. No one in their right mind could believe that she would do this on her own, not the mention that she knew that Sydney had been right there with her!
"Yes, but Mr Parker was caught speeding on his way home from this 'business meeting'. That was well after the time you said he accosted you at the parking garage and it occurred at the other side of town. His alibi is solid, you see."
Leslie shook her head. None of this made any sense. It couldn't be happening. The thought kept replaying over and over in her mind.
"We know you didn't do this alone, sergeant Bennett," Beech broke in on her thoughts. "You can only help yourself by giving up your co-conspirators."
"There are no co-conspirators!" Leslie protested.
"All right," he answered with the air of indulging a child.
"Then where did you procure the explosives? So far we have been unable to trace them, suggesting they were smuggled into the country illegally. You'd have to have the right contacts to be able to buy something like that on the black market. Maybe that PI, Doyle..."
"He has nothing to do with it. All I can tell you is that Sydney Parker gave them to me," Leslie insisted, knowing it was a waste of breath, but still unable to believe fully what was happening.
"Well, we both know that didn't happen," Beech replied before going on a softer tone of voice. "I realize how difficult this must be for you, sergeant, you got involved in something and now you're in over your head. But you must know that these people aren't going to help you now that you've been caught. They are going to let you take the fall for this alone. Help yourself and give us their names."
Leslie shook her head once again, feeling close to tears.
"There is no one...," she murmured softly, almost to herself, knowing that Beech would never believe her. Somehow Sydney must have forged his alibi. She didn't know how, but it was the only explanation.
"I think that's enough for now," Beech declared suddenly, quite to Leslie's surprise. "We'll know more tomorrow. You may think you have covered your tracks, but we are going to find out who your accomplices are. There is just one more thing..." he pulled a pair of handcuffs from the back pocket of his trousers and cuffed her left wrists to the metal frame of the bed.
"Just to make sure," he added, at Leslie's incredulous glare. With that he left, leaving Leslie alone to wonder if she had finally gone insane.
Sergeant Hood's curiosity had grown by leaps and bounds all during the ride to Radcliffe Infirmary. Once there, the constable who had driven him there, showed him into a small office that looked like it was normally used by one of the doctors. There, Inspector Beech from the terror task force was already waiting for him.
"Sergeant Hood," he greeted him and shook his hand. "Do take a seat," he offered him chair. "First of all, I apologize for bringing you out here on such short notice, but a very serious matter has developed that we could use your input on."
"What's that?" Hood asked, his dislike for the man growing with every second spent in his presence.
"It's about your partner, Sergeant Leslie Bennett. How well do you know her?"
The question came completely out of the blue as far as Hood was concerned.
"We're partners," he replied, somewhat evasively, not willing to give any more information until he knew what Beech was driving at.
"I understand that you feel an obligation of loyalty toward her, that's perfectly natural in our line of work," Beech said, nodding to himself. "But you should know that some very serious suspicions have arisen against your partner."
Hood was tempted to ask what sort of suspicions, but he refused to give Beech the satisfaction and remained silent.
Finally Beech went on, "Frankly, we believe that she was directly involved in the in the explosion at the hospital this morning and may have intended to detonate further charges. In addition, there is clear and uncompromising evidence that she tried to kill at least one person with a firearm."
Hood couldn't believe his ears. Bennett was supposed to be away on an undercover assignment with organized crime. What in the world could have gone so wrong that she had gotten mixed up the bombing of a hospital? It all has to be some sort of misunderstanding.
"What does she have to say to all this, if I may ask?" he finally managed.
"I cannot divulge the details of her statement as it concerns an ongoing investigation of our task force, but I can tell you that so far, she refuses to co-operate with our investigation in any way. And we were hoping that that's where you might be able to help us. Talk to her to try and persuade her to co-operate."
Oh yes, it would be like that SOB to try and turn partners against each other. Still, Hood was curious to learn what Leslie herself to had say about the allegations.
"I don't know if it would do any good," Hood said, putting on a pensive air. "But I would be willing to have a word with her."
"All right, that's settled then," Beech gave him a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
It took a while until Hood was allowed to see Leslie. What Beech hadn't mentioned was that Leslie herself had been injured fairly seriously and that the doctors treating her wanted her to rest instead of answering any more questions. Beech however managed to bully them into submission and finally nodded for Hood to go and see Leslie.
Hood knocked briefly on the door, but when there was no reply, he entered anyway.
"Bennett?" he asked softly. The room was only dimly illuminated and the figure had her head turned away from him. With increasing anger he noticed that Leslie had been cuffed to the bedrail, something that was definitely not necessary, whatever she might be accused of.
At the sound of his voice, Leslie turned her head. Hood was at first stunned, then angered by her battered appearance. Her eyes were slightly reddened and he wondered if she had been crying. If she had, he couldn't really blame her.
"What brings you here?" she finally asked, her voice sounding resigned and almost completely toneless.
"As your partner, I have been asked to talk to you," Hood said carefully.
"They told you?" she simply asked.
He nodded, then asked. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Yes, there is a as a matter of fact, you can tell me how many people died because of me."
Hood stared at her.
"The bombs, how many people did they kill?" Leslie rephrased.
"Uhm, no one, as far as I know," Hood finally managed, wondering not for the first time in what bizarre world he had landed.
Leslie smiled faintly. "That's good, that's really good to hear. Thank you," she said, sounding greatly relieved. "You should go now," she added calmly. "I don't want to drag you into this any further."
Hood was on the verge of protesting, but the expression on Leslie's face and the finality of her tone made him think better of it.
"Take care, Bennett," he only said instead and left.