The room was filled with tension. Silence lingered heavily in the air and despite the sun shining through the windows, the room was indeed a dark place to be. Everyone was seated at his or her own desks and not a sound escaped from anywhere. Charlie had locked himself in the office and Ray had locked himself in the interrogation room. Julianne had her back turned to the three beings in the room and the cons all sat in their chairs waiting for something to happen.
It was the first time. The very first time that this had ever happened to the team. An escaped convict had actually eluded them and managed to jump aboard a plane to Europe. They were after Arthur Mortimer also known as Prisoner 666, which was a terrifyingly accurate name for such a person. Prisoner 666 was convicted of multiple murders of people between the ages of 5 and 20. He would do brutal experiments and torture them until the victim's body could no longer maintain accurate stability and simple, and sometimes literally, fall apart. Prisoner 666 was known as the worst criminal to ever be caught by the police. He was captured after a neighbour's dog had found a mutilated torso buried in her own backyard. How he escaped was unknown to authorities, there were no signs of a struggle with anyone and the locks weren't tampered with. It was as if he had just evaporated into the air.
The team was the first on the scene and Julianne had managed to get a catch on him at an airport with a boarding pass to Canada. Only thing was, was that Prisoner 666 had everything already planned everything out and knowing that the authorities were on him, he had swiped another person's ticket to the Netherlands. He had literally slipped right under their noses and escaped that easily.
It was hard on all of them especially Julianne.
Before the eerie silence everyone was shouting and cussing each other, calling each other names and other profanity that made Charlie pick up the phone to call each prison to take back the cons. This threat had stopped everyone in their tracks. Ray tried to calm Charlie down but he wouldn't hear it and slammed the phone down on the receiver before stalking to his office.
A small click got everyone's attention and Charlie had finally come out after three hours of solitude. From the interrogation room, Ray saw this and came out too to hear whatever Charlie had to say.
"There is nothing we can do about it," Charlie struggled to say.
There was silence as if no one believed that Charlie had just said. Their leader who had almost just given up but Ray being unable to comprehend what Charlie just said immediately butted in.
"Is that it?" he asked angrily. "Just give up?"
"Well what the hell are we suppose to fucking do Ray?" Charlie shouted. "He's gone, Arthur is gone and he did it so…so god damn easily!"
Ray and Lloyd looked over at Julianne who had her scarf around her mouth and nose as if trying to hide from Charlie's rising temper. She was shaking like a leaf during the first fall.
"There is no way on tracking him in Europe Ray, none he is gone," Charlie then looked at Shea in clear disgust. "So much for you sources huh?"
Shea immediately straightened. He knew that Charlie was pissed off and he might say some things that were unnecessary but to put the full blame on him was going way over board.
"And what the hell is that suppose to mean?" Shea demanded.
"You damn know what it means con!" Ray piped before Charlie could get the chance. "You're source was foul, outdated and because of that we lost him."
Shea got to his feet so quickly that his chair clattered to the ground.
"And what about Julianne huh?" Shea asked then made a bad imitation of Julianne's voice. "Oh yeah, um… he at the…um…um…the airport getting a ticket to…um…um…Canada."
Silent tears streamed down Julianne's face and she looked like she was on the verge of collapsing. Ray noticed this and it only took him three steps to get to Shea. He grabbed the man by the lapels, walked him up to the nearest wall and slammed him against it so hard that Shea grit his teeth in pain.
"You take that back," Ray growled. "You fucking take that back you fucking animal!"
Shea pushed Ray off him, sure he was possibly going to go back to prison for good after this but if he is he might as well go down swinging. Ray looked like he was ready to punch Shea but then Erica interfered.
"We all take blame here Ray," Erica shouted. "All of us, each and every one of us. We all contributed to his escape."
"She's right," Lloyd said from the sidelines.
Charlie glared daggers at Lloyd and pointed his finger at him. "Don't you dare say a fucking word."
"And what the hell did he do?" Erica demanded. "All he did was locate where Arthur was."
Ray interrupted. "And if you would have stayed focussed instead of thinking about that child of yours-."
Erica bristled but then gathered herself up.
"Oh don't think for a second I wasn't the only one who was thinking about their family, particularly children."
As everyone bickered once again with the exception of Julianne who now was trying to stifle her cries. Lloyd's hyperactive brain was able to take everything in, in less than three minutes. He had gone over the plan over and over in his head and mentally concluded that it was possibly meant to be that this one got away. Arthur Mortimer had normal IQ and was active in clubs specifically science clubs but besides all that all Lloyd can conclude was that Arthur or Prisoner 666 was going by natural instinct. The natural instinct to get away from a threat which happened to be the Fugitive Taskforce.
"You want to say something?" Lloyd immediately snapped back into reality and saw that everyone including Julianne was looking at him.
"What do you think about this case, professor?" Shea asked.
Lloyd could definitely detect sarcasm in the word 'professor' although he also knew that Shea wasn't trying to hide it.
"Natural instinct," Lloyd started then dove right into his lecture tone. " Arthur went by a naturally born instinct of flight or fight. He knew that he wouldn't be able to fight against us so he left. Knowing that the only way out of the country was on a plane and knowing that we had Julianne. He distracted us by using basic thinking, knowing that we'd follow his false lead to Canada he was able to think more clearly and then decided to swipe the guy's ticket to get on board to a more foreign place where he knew that he would not be detected."
"And here it all comes down to you," Charlie said throwing his hands up in the air.
Lloyd frowned. "I was only going by-."
"I know," Charlie interrupted. "You were only going by what was in front of you. What information you had and what psychological disabilities or abilities that Arthur had. But that was where you fucked up Lloyd!"
The genius didn't know how to respond but he didn't have to because Charlie was on a roll and he didn't look like he was going to stop.
"You were so damn confident that Arthur would mess up because he had a learning disability but instead what happens? He outwits a god damn genius, a genius with a 210 IQ!"
Lloyd wanted to sit down but his body wouldn't respond.
"You over thought Lloyd that's what happened. You over thought this guy, calling him names and all this other shit. When he was gliding right past us laughing while he did so. There's more to being a genius than those fucking witty insults Lloyd, get that through your damn skull!"
The silence returned but this time came in a great tidal wave. Everyone looked between Charlie and Lloyd and even Julianne got out of her chair and walked a little towards both. Charlie was slightly shaking but remained sturdy nonetheless. Lloyd gave off no signs of emotion but inside his mind raced for a reply instead all the harsh remarks and put downs his mother had abused him with filled his mind. Charlie turned around and marched back to his office and slammed the door so hard that the glass rattled. Ray went back to his hide out in the interrogation room and Shea sat down except for Erica and Lloyd.
Erica had hated how Charlie put Lloyd down like that sure Lloyd was clumsy on this case but every other time they had captured the escapee. Every single time. Erica had watched Lloyd during Charlie's rant and saw that he was frozen as if he were made out of stone with a blank expression in his face. But what seemed odd about his way, just how he took it made Erica feel sad for Lloyd. She had listened involuntarily to Lloyd about how his mother would use attack him with harsh words but now when Erica had watched Lloyd stare at Charlie blankly, it was almost as if it was a natural thing.
Erica moved towards Lloyd and he saw her coming but then turned away. He could handle this, he was use to that kind of anger, that tone and the shame pressed towards him. He then saw Julianne only a foot away with her fingers intertwined in her scarf and so did Shea.
"I'm sorry," Shea whispered, his voice cracked slightly.
It took Julianne a few seconds to realize that Shea was talking to her. "Oh…it's okay."
"And it's not entirely your fault professor," Shea added to Lloyd and in reply he only got a small nod.
"Shea's right," Erica said. "We're all to blame for this each and every one of us."
Then Shea suddenly said, "But Charlie does have a point."
Both girls looked at Shea.
"He over thought."
Erica tried not to nod but it was so hard not too. She remembers clearly how Lloyd kept calling Arthur cruel names just because he had a learning disability.
"He is right Lloyd," Erica said. "Shea I mean…and Charlie…
Then Julianne added something that hit home. "You could have done so much better."
Something snapped in Lloyd. The voices of all the people who had told him that he could have done so much better, from his mom, to the judge and now Julianne. It was as if his brain had suddenly stopped and he couldn't breathe. Out of all the people in the world…it was Julianne.
Without thinking at all Lloyd grabbed Julianne by the lapels of her blouse and pulled her towards him until she was literally centimetres away from his face. Charlie was the first to see this and then Ray. Both rushed out and then went for their guns.
"Stop!" Shea and Erica cried in unison and moved in front of both guns' muzzles.
Charlie and Ray tried to get a clear shot at Lloyd but Erica and Shea would always move with the direction of the muzzle.
"Lloyd," Erica cried behind her, "just let Julianne go. Please."
Lloyd was shaking but Julianne was much worse fresh tears had sprung from her eyes and her breaths grew shallow.
"Don't you ever say that to me," Lloyd growled. His voice was dark and filled with unnatural anger. It was as if his whole being had changed instantly. Julianne saw anger in Lloyd's eyes and it was as clear as day.
"Lloyd…" Julianne whimpered helplessly. She tried to pry the man's hands from her clothes but they didn't budge.
"Don't you ever say that to me ever again!" Lloyd shouted and Julianne was now in whimpering out loud.
"Move," Charlie yelled at Erica.
"Get out of the fucking way!" Ray joined but Shea didn't budge.
"Lloyd just let her go," Erica said. "Please she didn't mean it. Just let her go."
Breathing heavily Lloyd let go of Julianne's lapels and watched as the traumatized young woman collapsed into a heap. Erica and Shea stepped out of the way and Ray and Charlie both ran towards Julianne who was struggling to her feet. They eased her into a chair and Charlie was ready to rip Lloyd one but when he turned, the genius wasn't there.
In the bathroom Lloyd had locked the room and the slammed his fist against the wall. He held it there for a few short seconds before balling his other hand into a fist and punching the wall. He punched the wall at least five times per hand before collapsing in exhaustion on the floor and for the first time in a long time, his body racked with sobs. He didn't know what happened, it was all a blank and then all of a sudden he saw Julianne on the ground sobbing. That was what scared him the most out of the whole ordeal. He hated to see Julianne upset yet what he did topped her list. He did this. Lloyd tried to control himself but it didn't work and for the first time in his life his whole brain just drew a blank. He was a genius. A psychologist and behaviorist that had built up his emotional stability to the highest point a human could ever have emotional stability at. Yet here he was sobbing on the bathroom floor. Lloyd wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve and then leaned against the wall and drew in deep breaths. He looked down at his knuckles to see some skin torn and blood already slowly oozing out. He grabbed some toilet paper and wiped away the blood before standing on his feet. He was ready to leave when he stopped in front of the mirror. He was a mess, his eyes were red from crying his whole face looked drained from the ordeal and his body shook. While still looking in the mirror, Lloyd raised his hands and flexed them. They shook slightly. What the hell happened to me? He did this a few times before doing something that he would most likely regret. Lloyd drew back his fist and then slammed it into the mirror.
The mirror immediately shattered upon impact. Large shards crashed to the ground while the smaller shards and slivers burrowed into Lloyd's skins and cut him a few times across the face. The mirror rained and broke off into smaller portions on the ground but Lloyd ignored them. Instead he looked ahead of himself and saw nothing. He breathed in and then looked outside the window to see another building right beside it. He did fantasize about escaping the group a few times on occasions when he had felt extremely threatened but he remained.
Lloyd walked over and opened the window. The breeze felt nice against his cuts on his hands and face. It made his hair fly in different directions and he took in a deep breath. He leaned out further and looked down to see nothing but asphalt. Lloyd wondered and then pondered the possibilities of his death. What would happen? Would people miss him? Would Julianne forgive him if he died? Would Charlie and Ray regret any harsh statements they have made about him in the past? Would his own mother come to his funeral? And what about his own father learn about the news and come running? Or stay hidden away like the coward he is? These questions and more ran through Lloyd's mind and he leaned dangerously further that if he had let go, he would indeed tumble to his death.
"If you jump then I'm going after you." The voice was female except filled with undetermined strength and control. Lloyd turned to see Erica standing in the doorway.
"I mean it," she said again stepping into the bathroom.
"How did you get in?" Lloyd asked.
Erica held up a bent paperclip. "A lot harder than they make it look on tv."
Lloyd gave a small chuckle and Erica took that as an invite to go closer to him. She leaned against the wall about two inches away.
"Julianne didn't mean it Lloyd," Erica said gently.
Lloyd nodded and then balled his fist as he remembered. Erica saw the cuts and she sighed. She opened up the cupboard and then took out the first aid kit.
"What are you doing?" Lloyd asked.
Erica sighed. "What does it look like? Sit down." She dropped the lid of the toilet. Lloyd just looked at Erica who then had enough of his dramatics. She walked over to the window and placed her hand on the upper part.
"If you don't remove your fingers from that ledge then I swear to god will bring this down on them."
Lloyd saw that the strong female was indeed telling the truth and then quickly moved away. Erica closed the window then nodded to the toilet and he sat on the lid. She proceeded to cleaning his wounds and carefully picked out the glass as gently as a surgeon doing brain surgery. Erica poured rubbing alcohol on them and Lloyd winced in pain. She waited patiently then did the task over twice before bandaging him up.
"How did you learn to do all of this?" Lloyd asked.
"My dad," Erica replied plainly. "It was the first thing he taught me told me it was the most important skill to have besides knowing how to clean a gun."
Erica nodded and then said, "Charlie wants us all in the main room."
Lloyd stiffened but Erica pulled him to his feet.
"Don't worry if he rants at you I'll tell him that he can go have a heart attack."
Lloyd was ready to say something but Erica had grabbed his wrist and pulled him along like a mother would to a stubborn child.
Back in the main room everyone was waiting. Charlie and Ray had their guns in the drawer of Charlie's desk so Lloyd took it as a good sign but the expressions on their faces made him think that he was still going to get it. He looked at Julianne who immediately avoided his gaze.
"Okay," Eria announced letting go of Lloyd. "Enough of this moody crap, the guy is gone and there is nothing we can do about it. He is no longer on our soil so there is nothing we can do about it. Let's just call this case a fucking screw up and then go on with our lives."
"I want Lloyd to apologize to Julianne," Ray said glaring daggers into the man.
Erica looked at Lloyd who walked up to Julianne who continued to look down at the ground. She had changed her top and her eyes were puffy from crying.
"I'm sorry Julianne," Lloyd said, his tone was serious and full of apology. "I am so, so sorry Julianne."
There was a silence in the room and then Julianne rose from her desk. Then before anyone could do anything, slapped Lloyd across the face.
The sound ringed through the room and no one moved or even dared to breathe for that matter. It was a definite shock to everyone especially Lloyd.
And with her hands on her hips Julianne said, "Now I forgive you."
Everyone looked at the woman who still looked at Lloyd as he clutched his cheek. It wasn't a very strong slap, definitely nothing like Erica's but it was enough to make Lloyd's cheek sting.
"I suppose I deserve that," he muttered.
"Yeah," Julianne answered, "you do."
Charlie then stepped forward. "Look I'm sorry for some of the crap that I said earlier but we can take this as a lesson. All of us. Shea, make sure your sources are more up to date, Erica focus only on the case and we will handle the safety of your child, Lloyd don't think that a mental disability will slow down an escapee, Julianne contact all security in the building." Charlie took in a breath then faced Ray and said, "Same as what I told Erica goes for you too, you knew that we'd take care of your daughter. Also look at the papers before jumping to conclusions and chasing off the wrong guy."
"That's two things," Ray pointed out.
"We all have many things that we need to concentrate on and improve and yes that does include me."
"Which would be?" Shea asked.
Charlie frowned. "What?"
"What do you need to work on?" Erica joined seeing where Shea was going with this.
Charlie sighed. "I need to work on-."
"Better leadership skills," Shea immediately said.
Charlie rolled his eyes. "Yes."
"As well as temper," Erica added."
"I get it," Charlie interrupted before Lloyd could finish. "I get it. We all have problems that we need to smooth out but that shouldn't-."
The phone rang and Charlie gave an exaggerated sigh. He walked over and picked it up, the others could hear but the expression on Charlie's face slackened and became relaxed. He put the phone back down on the receiver and then turned to everyone.
"Authorities over in Europe have all been put on red alert for Arthur Mortimer, they'll have his picture all over the continent in less than a hour. He won't be safe anywhere."
Everyone relaxed and looked pleased.
"We're done for the day," Charlie said picking up the phone. "Change out of your civvies."
Slowly the cons walked out of the room to change and Charlie sat down in the chair closest to him.
"You still want to keep them?" Ray asked.
Charlie looked up. "What?"
"After what happened? You still want to keep them?"
Charlie nodded and looked at Julianne who looked better.
"Their services are indispensable to us."