UNTIL THE BELL TOLLS
Disclaimer: The Breakout Kings is owned by A&E. This story was created for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s), not me. Thank you to the amazing writers, producers, actors, crew and directors who bring the show to life.
Status: Complete in 12 chapters. It's a little over 49,000 words.
Characters: Everyone plays a major role—which sort of explains the length. A little Juliet/Lloyd subtext, because I'm a romantic sap.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to NT for the beta
A/N: I took some liberties, adding to character backgrounds, so some things will be AU in the new season, I'm sure. Spoilers for the whole first season just in case, though I don't reference it that much.
Description: A fugitive arsonist is caught, but the disaster he's planned continues to play out. To make matters worse, everyone's on edge after a King goes down.
CHAPTER ONE: BOOM
Lloyd hating waiting.
Shoulders hunched and hands stuffed in his pockets, he leaned against the ambulance, trying to stay warm. Storm clouds as thick as smoke had rolled in, bringing chilling winds and dropping temperatures. Talk about foreboding. The sensation wasn't lessened by the presence of the seven police cars, two fire trucks, and one ambulance surrounding him, all with lights flashing, their exhaust fumes filling the frigid air with a smoky haze. No one was talking, though. Like him, they remained overly still, silently waiting in the freezing cold for something to happen.
A hundred yards away, the old ramshackle house in Redkill, New York rattled and trembled in the heavy winds, looking ready to separate from its foundations at any moment. And inside its crumbling wooden frame, his team tracked down another fugitive, while he and the local PD waited outside.
Two sharp bangs, muzzle flashes lighting the windows on the second floor.
Lloyd huffed. A couple of officers shifted, rifles raised; a hushed command from their captain, and they stilled.
Another shot. Police officers' hands tensed around their rifles, black barrels shifting restlessly.
Realistically, Lloyd knew that the shots were probably warning shots, shot by Charlie or Ray. Realistically, he knew that it was statistically unlikely that any of his team had been hurt, since no other shots had been fired. Realistically, he knew that, in all probability, Erica and Shea weren't even on the second floor, they'd probably been told to stay by the door as soon as the fugitive had been sighted.
Realistically, no one ever accepted the realistic scenario when the fatalistic scenario grew inside your gut like ringworm, wiping out all rational thought and leaving behind only complete and abject fear.
Pressing close to the ambulance, seeking refuge in its symbolic inviolability, he waited, loathing every second that ticked by. A bitterly cold wind blew through him, whipping at his coat and trying to rip the skin from his face; he moved closer to the open ambulance doors, closer to the light and heat pouring out of the vehicle and the comfortingly familiar smells of bleach and antiseptic.
It wasn't enough to make him feel better. Where the hell were they? Why was it taking so long to find one man?
Because Lloyd knew there was only the one man in there: Dominic Hughes, convicted arsonist, murderer and, now, kidnapper. But not, and let's be clear here, a pyromaniac, despite the file they're received from that hack of a psychiatrist, Madison. Oh no. Hughes was just your standard self-obsessed sick bastard, like most murderers. Nothing uncontrolled about him. His type of nasty was deliberate.
The man's ex-wife and son, whom he'd kidnapped, wouldn't be in there. He'd told Charlie that. He hoped they weren't wasting time (and risking their lives) looking for them, ignoring Lloyd's advice. They would have to help the state police find Meredith and Conner Hughes later, along with whatever other firetraps Hughes might have set. Of these facts, Lloyd was certain, so it shouldn't be taking this long to—
Another gun shot, and the window shattered off to the left, spraying glass everywhere. Rifles turned in that direction, like an orchestra's bows rising in sync before the next note.
Lloyd uncurled from his instinctive cringe, and buried his hands deeper into his pockets, dropping his head closer to his chest.
Odd thing, pyromania was one of those disorders Lloyd could actually understand—watching fire consume things was strangely beautiful. It was the aftereffects he couldn't stomach. He'd seen enough charred bodies in his lifetime to kill any need in himself to give into that sort of mania.
At least, he hoped so. A tiny part of him was never quite sure about his own sanity.
This is about Hughes. Hughes…the man who might be killing his team right now, while he cowered outside, safe in a sea of flashing lights. Sick, twisted Dominic Hughes, not a pyromaniac…worse. Do something, Lloyd! Help them! He took a step forward….
He jumped when the front door suddenly banged open, and crowded closer to the ambulance doors.
And then he smiled.
"Never a doubt in my mind," he said to the two paramedics standing nearby, his voice cracking slightly. They both flashed smiles in return—the brunette even laughed a little.
Standing up a little straighter, relief dripping down his spine, he catalogued the scene, trapping it in his mind and filing it with the information he had stored on this particular fugitive. Like a release valve, the fear disappeared, replaced by the analyst, the psychiatrist, the scientist writing the next medical journal entry. When he published again, this particular waste of humanity was going to share a chapter with Christian Beaumont, to contrast their psychoses….
Ray, limping from what looked like a nasty laceration to his left thigh, pulled (and a furious Shea shoved) Hughes towards the gathered police cruisers and fire engines. Charlie and Erica – both looking none the worse for wear – stopped halfway, to stand in the shadow of the waning day, bodies taut with tension, waiting to see the fugitive cuffed.
It was a bit of a ritual now. None of them really relaxed until cuffs snapped closed and the fugitive was put into the back of a squad car.
The escaped con kept his head up the whole time he was hauled along, eyes darting back and forth over the crowd of uniformed men awaiting him, red, blue and yellow flashing lights reflecting off the man's pale, white face like carnival lights.
And then Hughes smiled slightly.
Like a broken dam, officers swarmed forward, taking the fugitive from Ray's hold, drawing him in close, pulling his arms roughly behind his back. Despite the roaring wind, the sharp snap of metal handcuffs seemed to echo like a gunshot. Shea visibly deflated, and, in the background, Lloyd caught Erica put her head down in relief. Another one caught, another month off. Lloyd would normally be feeling it too, but….
Ray reached the ambulance and sat down heavily on the edge of the open rear compartment, pressing a hand against his battered leg. Shea leaned against the side of the ambulance next to Lloyd, wiping a hand across bloodied lips, and gave him a small nod. Lloyd just frowned, and returned his attention to the officers holding the convict.
"What, not even a 'good job, fellas?'" Shea asked, sounding affronted. "Next time, you go inside and tackle the crazy white dude with nothing but a tire iron, and I'll wait outside with the pretty female paramedics."
Lloyd felt Ray tap his leg then, and he looked down.
"You were right," Ray told him, gesturing towards the house. "Ex-wife and kid weren't in there with him." He rubbed at his leg as he continued, grimacing slightly. "Charlie and Erica are going to see if there's anything inside that can tell us where he's holding them. He wants you in there with them."
The words were meaningless, other than to alert Lloyd to the fact that Erica and Charlie had turned around, and were headed back to the house.
"What?" Lloyd said. Over by the squad cars, the fugitive was a boiling mass inside the knot of policemen. Hughes had started to fight, not wanting to be put in the car. The cops were arguing with him, their shouts lost in the high winds.
"I said—" Ray began.
"I heard you," Lloyd snapped. That wasn't what he was asking. The arsonist had smiled, and it had been an excited smile, a sick, twisted turn of his lips, eyes bright with obvious anticipation, waiting for…for….
"No," he whispered. He looked over at Charlie and Erica—just feet away from the house steps. "No! Charlie!" he shouted. "Erica! Come back!" They couldn't hear him, not over the wind. They were too far away. He cupped his hands around his mouth. "Charlie! Erica!"
Shea grabbed his arm. "What's the matter?"
"Lloyd?" Ray pushed a paramedic aside to stand up. "What is it?"
"No time!" Lloyd answered. "Charlie!" he shouted. It was no use—they just couldn't hear him. He looked down, saw the gun in Ray's holster. Without thinking, he grabbed it and started running towards the house, ignoring Ray's furious shouts behind him.
"Charlie! Erica!" Flipping off the safety, he raised the gun above his head and fired three shots into the air. "Charlie! Stop!"
Charlie turned, and so did Erica, her foot on the bottom step.
"Come back!" he yelled, and used his free hand to wave them back, bringing the gun down. "Stop! Come back! The house is rigged—"
The sharp pain in his back was a shock, like being bitten by a bee he hadn't seen. His eyes widened in realization…and then his head smacked the dirt and the world went black.
Erica screamed when the shot rang out, Lloyd staggering like he'd been punched in the back.
He collapsed to the ground in a heap, boneless, like a dropped marionette.
"Lloyd!" Charlie was already running towards him as he yelled, and Erica was shaken from her shock, moving fast across the frozen yard to catch up.
The world exploded, and Erica felt herself lifted off the ground, as if someone had grabbed her and pulled her briefly upwards. She hit the ground hard a heartbeat later and rolled, dirt and stones grinding into her face, hair and body. Her hip hit something hard, and a dull but deep pain rolled up and down her left side.
When she stopped moving, she simply breathed, trying to get her bearings. She couldn't hear anything but the rushing of the wind, pressing down on her, hot and freezing cold, all at the same time. A chunk of flaming wood hit the ground to her right, just inches from her hand, searing her face with heat. She shifted away, only to find more flaming pieces of wood encircling and smacking down around her.
Turning her head to look over her shoulder, she blinked at the sight of the house engulfed in flames, a mushroom cloud of smoke and fire billowing out the top.
Ray had just grabbed the still warm rifle away from the young policeman, the boy's eyes full of fear, when the house exploded. As if in slow motion, he saw Charlie and Erica thrown forward, hitting the ground and rolling like they weighed nothing.
Shea, who had been running towards Lloyd's unmoving form, looked like he'd been walloped, landing hard on his ass, throwing his hands over his face.
"Oh my god," the policeman whispered, falling back a step as the wave of heat blew over them. "That's why he…he was…."
"Yeah," Ray breathed. Fuck.
"Oh God. I'm so sorry." The officer sounded crushed. "I'm so, so sorry. I didn't know."
Ray barely heard him. Using the rifle as a crutch, he jogged awkwardly towards his fallen team, grunting at every other footfall.
The paramedics were faster—they were already to Shea, checking on him. Ray saw Shea wave them off, pointing towards the others. Ray reached Shea just as the other man got to his feet. Together, they stumbled over to where one of the paramedics was now bent over Lloyd.
"Is he-?" Shea's question was also Ray's; the fading light was still strong enough to show the growing, black bloodstain. The earth was too frozen to absorb any of it.
"He's alive," the woman replied, tipping Lloyd up a little to see under his body. Her gaze was sharp as she looked up, straight at Shea. "You want to help, run back to the ambulance and grab me a blanket and the kit I was about to use on your friend there." Her eyes caught Ray's, indicating he was the "friend," before returning her attention to Shea. Ray didn't see the need to correct her assumption, just nodded at Shea when the younger man glanced at him before turning to do as the paramedic asked.
"Is he going to be okay?" Ray asked then.
The paramedic wasn't looking at him anymore, focused on doing something to Lloyd's back. "Bullet's still inside him," she said, not really answering, then added, "We…we'll do our best." She pressed down, and Lloyd moaned softly. She looked up at Ray, eyes betraying her nervousness. "Who shot him? The convict? Are we in danger?"
Ray held back a lot of different answers to that, most of them born of the anger he bottled up deep inside. Instead he looked towards the burning house.
"No. Don't worry," he said. "There won't be any more shooting." He frowned and turned to head towards the house. "I need to go check on the others."
He was grateful to see that Charlie was on his feet, mostly, bent over with his hands on his knees. Erica was still on the ground, trying to push off the hands of the other paramedic as she obviously tried to keep Erica down. He heard more than saw Shea skid to his knees next to the paramedic by Lloyd, breathlessly shoving a medical kit towards her and asking what else he could do. The last thing Ray heard was the paramedic barking out more orders, probably to Shea and to the other police officers who had stumbled up to join them.
"Hey, Zancanelli! Hold up."
He didn't turn around at the stranger's voice. Instead, he started walking away, heading towards Charlie and Erica, trying to ignore the pain every time his hurt leg hit the ground.
"Zancanelli! Hey! Wait, damn it!"
Erica finally shoved the paramedic and stood up to her full height, looking almost regal against the flaming backdrop. She pointed at the paramedic, then pointed towards Lloyd. Ray almost smiled. Charlie was also upright now, and when the paramedic approached him, he waved him off and also pointed towards Lloyd. Ray stopped moving, relief washing through him like a wave.
A hand grabbed his arm, turning him, and Ray stumbled when he put too much weight on his bad leg. He instantly lashed out in pain and anger, shoving at whoever had grabbed him.
The police captain – what was his name? Riley? – stumbled backwards a couple of steps, and then stopped. Standing up straight, the captain glared at Ray.
"Uncalled for, Zancanelli," he snapped, rubbing at his chest where Ray had hit him.
Ray just upped an eyebrow. Hell yes, it was called for. This idiot was supposed to be back-up, here to protect his team, not shoot them!
"Look," the captain said, raising a hand to him, "I'm just here to talk about what just happened with your con there. I'm guessing, based on the explosion, that he wasn't running away."
"You assume right," Ray growled. "And his name is Lowery."
"With Lowery," the captain said, tilting his head in a half nod. "What my officer did—"
"Was wrong," Ray finished. "He was dead wrong."
The captain frowned. "I'm not here to apologize for Officer Chase, Zancanelli. I'm here to make sure we're on the same page. Chase only acted as you instructed. He saw one of the cons you're working with running with a gun in his hand. He couldn't hear what the con was yelling, just that he looked like he was going to shoot Marshal DuChamp. He couldn't know—"
"If I thought Lloyd was dangerous, I would have given you the order to shoot him myself," Ray snarled. "I didn't give that order."
Riley's eye twitched. "Officer Chase heard you yell to Lowery to stop and come back. He also said you yelled at Lowery to drop the weapon he'd stolen. Chase took your words to mean—"
"I never said to shoot him!"
Riley continued as if he hadn't heard. "He took your words to mean that Lowery was acting out, and was dangerous. He—"
"Wasn't given the order to fire."
"He couldn't know—"
"He didn't need to know! Your man made a bad call."
The captain lifted his chin. "I disagree."
"Like hell! He shot my man in the back. How is that not a bad call?"
"We are trained to shoot criminals who are running away—"
"He wasn't running away!"
"How were we supposed to know that? He had your gun!"
"Because what?" Riley snapped. "Because he's the exception to what we've been trained? You're the one who told us to watch them! Told us to be wary, to make sure they didn't step out of line, told us they were dangerous. I have no idea what any of these three have done, or what they're capable of, but a convicted con running and shooting a gun looked pretty damned out of line to me! We're cops! He's a criminal. That's what we do!"
Ray frowned. He was losing this argument. He looked away, pivoting on his good leg to look down at Lowery on the ground, and saw Shea looking up at him, his gaze hooded. He'd heard. The con's expression was unreadable in this light, but whatever Shea was thinking right then, it couldn't be good.
Captain Riley cleared his throat. "Listen. I'm going to assume that you are arguing with me out of anger, Zancanelli, and concern over Mr. Lowery—"
"Doctor," Ray said softly, still looking at Shea. "Dr. Lowery." Next to Shea, Lloyd was being lifted up onto a stretcher, his skin paler than the gray blanket now covering him. Shea stayed with the stretcher as was wheeled over to the ambulance.
Riley was still talking. "…And recall that you yourself told us who these people are and what our jobs were meant to be." The captain completed his statement with a huff, tugging down his jacket and lifting his chin. "Officer Chase did nothing wrong, and I will testify as much before the review board."
The paramedic carefully stuffed an IV bag under Lowery's head, and then rested a hand against his chest. Suddenly, she was standing on the edge of the gurney, shouting for oxygen, the words "respiratory arrest" clear as she tipped Lloyd's head back to help him breathe. Shea stepped back as the other paramedic swooped in, the two blocking Ray's clear view of Lloyd.
Suddenly seeing red, Ray turned and stepped closer to Riley, forcing the captain to take a step back.
"I don't give a shit what you do, Riley. We told you to only act upon the orders delivered by either me or Marshal DuChamp. Your man acted on his own, and if Lowery dies, it will be his fault. He, and you, can make peace with your own fuckin' chain of command, because you're not getting anything from me."
"Now, hang on. If you think you can threaten me or any of my men, Zancanelli, I think you need to remember who wears the badge here."
Ray's eyes narrowed. "Is that right?" he asked softly.
Riley frowned and opened his mouth as if to say something more, but he shut it again when someone bumped lightly into Ray's side.
"Everything alright here?" Charlie asked, his voice pitched a little louder than necessary. Ray glanced at him, then back at Riley.
"No. But I don't feel like talking to this asshole anymore. He's all yours."
Pivoting on his good leg, he limped away to join the others at the ambulance. Erica was standing with her arms wrapped tightly around her thin frame, looking lost. As Ray joined them, she shifted to his side, close enough for him to wrap his arm around her. He didn't.
But he wanted to. He tucked his arms close by his sides instead.
"What's happening?" he asked, seeing the two paramedics working on Lloyd still. Shea was nearby, hovering. Funny, Ray didn't think Shea liked Lloyd all that much.
"They inserted an airway," Erica said. "Something about a lung collapsing. I think they're breathing for him now." Her voice sounded small. She moved a little closer, close enough for him to smell her hair. It smelled like smoke.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Almost wasn't. He probably saved our lives."
"Definitely saved your lives," Shea said sharply, looking across at Erica. "You'd be brisket right now otherwise." He looked at Ray when he finished, lips snarling slightly and resting a hand on Lloyd's shin, as if protective. "Isn't that right, Ray?"
Ray frowned. "Shea—"
"Okay," the paramedic said then, waving Shea away. "Step back, please sir." As he moved, the two paramedics tipped up the stretcher and slid it into the ambulance. The brunette climbed in after Lloyd.
"Can I ride with him?" Shea asked suddenly. The blonde paramedic closing the doors smiled slightly, but shook her head.
"No. But we're taking him to Mercy General. You can meet us there." She gave a wan smile to Ray. "You need to come in anyway, for that leg. I'm sure one of the officers will give you a ride."
"Yeah," Ray said, not really thinking about his leg right then. All three of them backed up then as the paramedic locked the doors and jogged around to the front. A beat later, the ambulance was gone in a flash of lights and blaring sirens.
Erica and Shea turned to face Ray, their eyes questioning. Ray couldn't blame them. They still had two kidnapped people to find out there somewhere, and a case to finish. But they wanted to go with Lloyd. Ray did too. He wanted to believe that he didn't care, but….
Thankfully, Charlie strode over at that exact moment and took charge.
"Ray, have one of these officers take you to the hospital for your leg. And then you stick with Lowery. Shea, Erica, you're with me. We still have Hughes's kidnapped ex-wife and kid to find."
For those who don't know me, I tend to post a chapter a day, or every other day, depending on how busy I am at work. I do this because I revise/tweak before I post each chapter, trying to spot things like those damn homophones. But I always finish my stories.