Title: The Outside Looking In 1/?
Rating: PG-13 (swearing and violence)
Spoilers: None yet.
Character/Pairing: No pairing. Teamfic that is mildly Loker-centric.
Disclaimer: I don't own the lovely characters and make no profit from my musings. How sad.
Author's notes: Written to counter-act the terrible lack of Loker, anywhere! My first Lie to Me fic. Hope you enjoy!
Summary: While investigating a bank robbery, Foster and Loker discover that the most dangerous things can happen after the thieves are long gone.
"Oy, Loker, we got any footage of this girl before she was supposedly abducted?" Cal yelled across the video lab from where he was set up at one of the wall monitors watching an interview. "She's shaking, panicked all through this. Can't get a decent baseline."
Loker scrolled through the files he had been sent for the abduction case and answered, "We have footage from her wedding, but she hardly talks in it. We just used it to find faces in the crowd. Um … here! Her parents' anniversary, she made a speech, three months ago."
Loker hit play and Lightman pushed his chair across the room to watch it with him.
"I just want to say congratulations to Mom and Dad and thank you both for sharing your lives with each other, and with all of us …"
"Voice is still shaky," Lightman noted.
"She could be a nervous public speaker," Loker suggested, seeing a lot of signs of anxiousness as she spoke.
"Look! Look right there, blow that up," Lightman requested, pointing to her face. "Look at that glare."
"Hatred," Eli agreed and ran through the footage until it showed who the woman was glaring at during her speech. "Aimed at the brother. Deep hatred too, not just 'you were always the favorite in the family' hatred."
"No, the parents definitely liked her more," Cal said, still studying the tape. He looked like he was going to make another request but stopped when he saw Reynolds coming into the lab.
"Drop whatever you're doing. I need you, come on," Reynolds ordered Cal as politely as possible.
"Well that's sweet, but you can't have me. I've gotta go talk to this guy about why his sister is lying about being kidnapped," Lightman explained and then tried to leave only to have Reynolds step in front of him.
"You have an agreement with the FBI, their cases get priority," Reynolds reminded him.
"Not when I'm in the middle of another case they don't," Cal countered. "Take Foster, she's good for it. Besides, I'm total rubbish, you don't want me. You can have Loker too if you want, I'm done with him."
"Thanks, that in no way makes me feel completely used or disposable," Loker replied sarcastically.
"Good, you'll have fun then," Cal said and then waved as he finally left the video lab.
Loker looked up from his chair to see Reynolds waiting for him impatiently with his arms crossed.
"I'm coming," he said, putting his hands up defensively and shutting off the computer. "Just so you know, you're suppressing a lot of anger at the moment, you should be careful. It can be bad for your health. Ulcers, migraines, high blood pressure …"
"Thanks for the advice, but this is kind of an important case, so it might be bad for your health if you don't move it along," Reynolds warned lightly then asked. "Where's Foster?"
"Her office I guess. I'm ready, let's go find her," Loker suggested, shrugging his video camera bag over his shoulder. "Where are we going anyway?"
"First National bank downtown. It was robbed an hour ago. The perps all got away and one teller was killed. It looks like an inside job. FBI wants to know who was helping them," Reynolds explained.
Loker nodded and then flagged down Foster as she walked into the hallway.
"Hey Foster, there's been a shooting downtown. Cal and Reynolds seem to think it'll be right up your alley," Loker reported to her cheerfully.
"Well, how thoughtful," Foster answered. "I'll get my purse."
"Are you ever not cheerful and annoying?" Reynolds asked Loker after she left.
Loker considered it for a moment and then shook his head, "No, it's usually at least one or the other, if not both."
"Fantastic," Reynolds sighed and then started to move towards the door. "I'm heading down to the bank. Get a lift with Foster."
"Can do," Loker agreed and waited in the hallway for Gillian to appear with her purse. When she came out again she looked around for Reynolds and shot Loker a questioning glance when she couldn't find him. Loker grinned and explained, "Reynolds went ahead without us. He asked if you'd drive me to work. I don't think he likes me much."
"Come on," Gillian encouraged, smiling as she headed to the door. "You can drive with me. But I pick the music."
"I hope your musical tastes are more mature than your food habits then, cause I'm not listening to teeny-boppers."
"Guess you'll have to jump out of the car then," Foster smiled.
Fifteen minutes later Foster parked her car outside the crime scene tape around the bank. Loker got out, checking his equipment while Foster flashed their credentials to the policeman guarding the barricades that kept out the reporters.
"Have you seen Agent Reynolds?" Foster asked the cop as they passed.
"He went inside about ten minutes ago."
Foster and Loker entered the bank hesitantly, careful as they stepped around broken glass to stay out of the way of the FBI agents sorting through evidence in the lobby. Behind the counter they saw two men in coroner jackets zipping a corpse up into a body bag.
As they looked over the scene Reynolds approached them from across the room. Before he could say anything Loker asked, "Who was the victim?"
"Michelle Sargeant," Reynolds answered. "Mother of two, twenty-eight. She tried to run when the gunmen came in. They shot her in the back."
Foster adopted a hard look in her eye as she took in this information and then asked, "So, why does the FBI think it was an inside job?"
"Three men came in wearing ski masks, waving around automatic weapons in the middle of the day. Two different tellers swear they managed to sound the silent alarm before the men left but the police never got the signal," Reynolds explained.
"Alarm was deactivated," Loker guessed. "Could have been anyone working here."
"We know," Reynolds said. "We've cordoned off all the staff members that were in the bank in one of the back rooms and we're bringing everyone in who had the day off for questioning. For now we need to know if the guilty party is sitting back here, and fast. We want to catch these guys before they skip town if possible."
"How much did they leave with?" Loker asked.
"About three million," Reynolds answered. "They hit the place when the tills were at capacity."
Foster and Loker both shared a look, no doubt in their minds that it was indeed an inside job.
"All right, let's see them," Foster requested. Reynolds led them both to a conference room down a long hallway and opened the door to reveal a room full of a dozen shaken, upset bank employees. A few women were crying, some were staring blankly into space and everyone looked disheveled.
All eyes turned to them as they stood in the doorway and Reynolds announced, "This is Gillian Foster and Eli Loker from the Lightman Corporation. I know you're all tired and want to go home but they're just going to ask you a few questions. Clear some things up. Please give them your full cooperation."
Gillian was smiling in a reassuring manner as her and Loker looked over the crowd, trying to spot who to start with. There were a lot of emotions in the room to read but it was Loker who spotted their first target. Since he was taller he was just able to see the security guard sitting hunched in a back corner who was biting his nails and bouncing his knee up and down.
"Security guard at the back," Loker whispered to Foster as discretely as possible. "Signs of nervousness, maybe some guilt. Trying not to draw attention to himself."
Foster followed his line of sight, looked at the man for a moment and agreed.
"We're going to need to talk to the security guard," she told Reynolds who nodded and took another agent with him to escort the man to a different room.
Five minutes later they were in a conference room meant to hold about eight people. Loker had his camera set up at the end of the table, with Paul Hughes at the other end, sweating and looking more nervous by the second. He was a man in his early thirties with brown hair, moderately handsome with the appearance of working out regularly, though at the moment he was sweating profusely despite the room's air conditioning.
Near the doorway Foster was skimming through Hughes' employment record quickly while Reynolds and another agent who had introduced himself as Richmond stood behind her to supervise.
"All right, Mr. Hughes," Foster began, sitting next to the man. "We're not going to keep you long. Why don't you just start at the beginning, tell us exactly what happened here."
Hughes nodded, sat up straighter and licked his lips, "All right, there's not much to tell. I was just doing my rounds, walking through the lobby when one of the tellers told me that Mr. Spencer, the bank manager, wanted to see me."
"Which teller?" Foster asked.
"Uh … Julie. Yeah, Julie Sommers."
"Thank you, please continue," Foster requested.
"Okay. I went back to Mr. Spencer's office, we talked for a few minutes …"
"About what?" Foster asked, cutting him off.
Both specialists noticed when Hughes shifted his eyes downward, clenched his fists and cleared his throat before he answered, "I uh … I had asked for a raise last week. I been here awhile and things are tight at home. Anyway, he said no."
Foster nodded and locked eyes with Loker. The man was embarrassed and telling the truth about having to ask for money, but he was hiding something a lot bigger than that as well.
Before Foster could ask another question the room was split by the sound of a cell phone ringing. All eyes turned to Reynolds who hunched apologetically as he pulled out his phone.
"Be right back," he promised, moving out into the hall to take the call after sharing a look with Agent Richmond that said 'keep an eye on them'.
Foster smiled to Hughes again and encouraged, "You were saying."
"Um, I went back to talk to Mr. Spencer. We were in there for a few minutes, the door was closed, I guess that's why we didn't hear the shouting … if there was any … during the robbery," he continued. Foster noticed his eyes had started to search her own face to try to determine if she believed him.
"When exactly did you realize the bank was being robbed?" Foster asked.
Loker watched as the man's hand rubbed at his forehead, clearly showing shame.
"The gunshot. We could hear the gunshot. I … I ran out of Mr. Spencer's office and got back to the lobby just as they were running out. I couldn't catch any of them."
"Did you fire your weapon?"
"No," Hughes shook his head emphatically, almost as though he thought the idea was ridiculous.
"Because you didn't have a shot, or because you didn't want to shoot your partners?" Loker asked suddenly.
Hughes turned, surprised to hear the question coming from the other side of the table. It was a technique they used sometimes; let Foster ask the reassuring questions, get a subject mildly relaxed and then throw on the pressure questions from somewhere else and see how flustered they got. In this case Hughes' breathing increased dramatically and his eyes began to shift all over the room.
"What? No … they … they were running. I didn't have a shot. I wasn't gonna shoot them in the back," Hughes rushed out.
"Did you know the silent alarm had been cut?" Loker pushed.
"No," Hughes said quickly, his eyebrows shooting up as he spoke which made Foster shake her head.
"See the problem I have with that Mr. Hughes is that your eyebrows raised as you spoke. When someone is genuinely surprised the eyebrows raise first, then they process the information and respond. You just demonstrated forced surprise. You knew the alarm had been tampered with," Foster stated with complete certainty.
"What? No … I … I didn't know for sure. I suspected cause it took the cops so long to get here, but …"
"Mr. Hughes, when did you deactivate the alarm?" Loker asked, moving in closer on the other side of the table.
"Unfortunately, your body language is telling us that you did," Foster informed him, then inched closer and continued talking in a softer voice. "I understand. I imagine this was supposed to be a lot simpler right? You cut the alarm, your partners clean the place out and you guarantee that they never get shot at and the police don't show up until they're gone. It should have been easy. Only it wasn't, because one of your partners is a murderer. He murdered that woman and by helping him you are an accessory to murder. The only way to make this easier on yourself is to tell us who they are and where they're going."
"No. No, I …" Hughes continued to protest but there was no conviction behind his words anymore, only frustration. However Loker noticed his hands continuing to clench and his breath turning into short gasps as Gillian pushed further.
"Give us the names and it'll be easier for everyone, yourself included."
"Hey now, I … I didn't kill anybody and I don't … I don't know which one of them shot her. I was in the back," Hughes pointed out.
"We need the names of everyone, not just the shooter," Foster insisted but Hughes shook his head adamantly.
"No, I can't."
"I think you can buddy," Agent Richmond said suddenly, speaking for the first time, his voice dripping with anger as he rounded on Hughes. "You're gonna give us those names or you're going down for this murder solo. That's 25 to life. You willing to risk that for your buddies who ran out and left you here?"
"Agent Richmond we can handle this," Gillian protested, angry about being disrupted when she had been so close to answers.
"No, this scumbag's talking now or I'm charging him with first degree," Agent Richmond announced as he stood over Hughes who Loker could see was becoming increasingly agitated. When Hughes refused to speak it angered the FBI agent even more and he grabbed Hughes by the shoulder. "All right, that's it. You had your chance. Enjoy the daylight while you can."
"No, I ain't going down for this!" Hughes protested violently, pulling away. "I didn't kill anybody!"
"Whoa," Loker yelled, trying to diffuse the situation but it was too late.
When Agent Richmond tried to reach for Hughes' arm to handcuff him the security guard rose out of his chair and tackled the agent with a cry of rage. As the two men struggled Gillian stood up to get out of the way but wasn't fast enough. The men collided into her and would have knocked her to the ground but Loker had come up to try to catch her as she fell while crying out, "Foster!"
His own balance was off however and when she fell into him he only managed to cradle her fall as he toppled down as well and hit the ground with a grunt, his head colliding painfully with the leg of the table as Foster landed on top of him.
As Foster rolled off of Loker she spotted Richmond and Hughes locked together against the wall, struggling for control of the Agent's gun. She had just sucked in a breath to scream for help when she was prematurely drowned out by the deafening crack of a gunshot.
Instinctively she gasped and shied away from the sound. When she opened her eyes again time seemed to move in slow motion as she watched Agent Richmond stare wide eyed into space before he took in half of a shuddering breath and then slid down the wall to lay sprawled on the floor and never move again.
Beside her she felt Loker starting to rise; he pushed himself into a sitting position and placed a hand on her arm protectively while his other hand cradled the back of his head. She couldn't acknowledge him however as her eyes were fixed firmly on Paul Hughes, who seemed as surprised as she was that he was holding a gun that had just taken a man's life.
Despite the blow he had taken to the head Loker seemed to be the most coherent of all of them as he started to pull Gillian to her feet and shouted, "Reynolds!"
Loker's yell and the sound of footsteps rushing down the hall seemed to snap Hughes back into reality.
"No, no, no!" he muttered as he ran to the door before the specialists could get to it, locked it and shoved a chair underneath the doorknob to keep it closed. As Loker and Foster got to their feet and backed away from the gunman, fists started to pound on the door from the other side and they could hear Reynolds calling for them.
"Loker! Foster! Can you hear me? Open the door!" Reynolds demanded, then they heard the slide of a gun pulling back. "Richmond! I'm coming in!"
"No!" Hughes yelled desperately, waving his gun hand through the air to accentuate his words. "No, stay the hell out! You hear me? If you come in here I'll kill them, I swear!"
There was silence for a moment before Reynolds shouted back, "All right Hughes, just stay calm. Loker? Foster? I need someone to answer me or I'm coming in there."
They could both see Hughes' eyes became more frantic as he feared the door would be kicked down any second and his crimes would be revealed to the world. To keep that from happening for as long as possible he stalked towards his hostages, who both backed away with Loker positioning himself in front of Foster protectively.
Since he was closer Hughes grabbed Loker's arm and pulled him towards the door, ordering roughly, "Come on!"
"No!" Gillian yelled, terror squeezing her insides as she watched Loker shoved against the door face first with the gun placed behind his head.
"Foster!" Reynolds yelled again from the other side.
"Tell him!" Hughes demanded of Loker as he shoved him against the wood for emphasis. "Tell him not come in!"
"Reynolds don't … don't come in!" Loker stuttered out, certain he would have fallen over from terror by now if he wasn't currently shoved against a wall. "Hughes … has a gun. He'll use it. He … he shot Richmond."
"Jesus Christ," they heard Reynolds mumble through the wood. "And Foster?"
"She's … she's all right. We're both okay. I think … Richmond's dead," Loker answered when Hughes shoved him to respond again. He gulped loudly and looked up to compose himself when he felt the cold of the gun barrel pressed into his neck. "Just … just back off for now, please. He's serious."
"All right, all right. I'm backing away," Reynolds finally agreed seconds later. From the sounds of footsteps shuffling on the other side of the door he was signaling back all the cops that had run down the hallway with him too. "I'm leaving Hughes, but I'm gonna come back. We're gonna talk about this and you're not going to hurt those people, you hear me? Hughes?"
"Yeah! Just get out of here! Now!" Hughes yelled, wanting nothing more than room to think things through.
"All right, I'm going," Reynolds promised and they heard him walk down the hall. As they listened to the hallway empty Hughes kept a tight grip on Eli's shoulder and continued to push him roughly against the door until Gillian spoke up behind him.
"Please," she begged, her hands out in a gesture of submission. "Let him go. They … they left. They did what you asked. Please, you can let him go now."
Loker was silent for once in his life as Hughes considered it and then finally growled in frustration as he threw the smaller man away from the door and across the room towards the corner Foster had backed into.
As Hughes started to pace around one side of the room, running his fingers through his hair nervously, Gillian grabbed Loker's arm and helped him remain standing. He was breathing heavily and Foster could feel him shaking from the ordeal.
"Are you okay?" she asked as quietly as possible.
Loker didn't meet her gaze as he shook his head, "I'd be lying if I said yes. Foster, this guy …"
"I know," she cut him off shakily, fully aware what he was going to say and in total agreement. "He's not going to let us go."
Dun, dun, dun!!! Hope you are enjoying. More soon.