I do not own Breakout Kings, if I did, Charlie would still be kicking.
AN: May seem AUish or OCC on Ray's part, but whatever.
Note: Thank you for reading, reviews would be awesome!
ANN: This is to be a one-shot, unless more chapters are asked for.
It had started with it all being sucked away, the ground pulling away into free fall.
The movement was sudden, as unnatural as the familiar body in sight. His vision was blurred, the vocal chords belonging to him becoming suddenly rusty. And he fell; emotion and self control leaving him as he wind rushed past. It was numbness, a void of nothing as he turned to auto pilot. It seemed to be business as usual as he went through the motions of living, that eventually, everything had to hit the ground.
The wood was polished, showing his reflection in the dark cherry tree product as well as the growing storm clouds overhead. He had been there when the decision had been made, even kicking in a few of his checks in order to get something more than the average oak. Suits, mostly of the black variety, and badges, shined yet dull under the sky watched him, as he stood as support for a new widow, more than they watched the preacher. He watched the dirt he threw hit the top of the casket, the first and last handful that he had the honor to throw in, knowing that it was the last glimpse he would ever get. That wasn't the moment when the dam broke, nor was it when he grabbed a few flowers of different variates to give to the others. He had been unsuccessful in getting them out for the gloomy day, something he knew would not ease the tension; he hoped, as he put them in water later, that the colorful flora would ease it just a bit.
The warehouse had been empty then, just as he seemed to be despite the fact he would deny it; a worn gray prison with clouded windows shielding from the rainy outside. Another type of wood greeted him as he walked into the room he had been avoiding, a rougher version of what he had seen the ground swallow; oak perhaps, not that it really mattered.
Everything seemed to stop, as he waited for a voice to tell him to go talk to the others, to stop wasting time. A commanding verbal tone, one that had little tint of the kindness possessed, to tell him of a lead. From the floor his eyes went, a task normally done in respect to the speaker. Instead of brown, there was the gray wall to greet him in a mocking gesture.
The dam broke, it all came back in full force; a tsunami of stress, pain and everything in between that he had been blocking out for the last...day? week? maybe a month due to the fact that he had stopped counting. The next time he checked the time was at 9:07 am after the sun had rose, as the orange outfits came to stare at him. He had tried to say, but failed, in showing how sorry he was in the face of their rage. It was not at him, but what he represented. A new leader, one that was not wanted.
Then he was drowning, struggling to keep his head above water in face of controlling something that he had not created. Loyd, while he was annoying, should not have been tased; he should not have allowed the situation to become that. To let those who had proved their worth, even possibly gaining the title of friends, be verbally degraded; he had boss would of never even let a situation like that appear, to have been created. Every opportunity that appeared seemed to get worse and worse, leaving him with less breath than ever, his will and lungs becoming strained as time went on from the moment where the dam broke.
He preferred the numbness of falling, instead of this frantic dance where every second seemed to sink him deeper into the watery depths. It was a ticking time bomb, in which the fuse was growing shorter and shorter by the minute; yet there seemed to be little he could do but ride it out and hope that it didn't explode in his face.
Eventually walls were built to keep the oceans back, so that he developed the demeanor of control to keep things calm, and concrete was poured to keep the ground from shaking, finally he was able to sit in that worn seat that by definition wasn't his, under his feet. Those barriers were implemented the moment the shot burned his throat, the clinking of glasses still echoing faintly in his ear.
Sure, the cracks still showed, but at least he could breath and function; more than a sip of beer could ever do.
Coping, as he had been told in his police classes at the academy, was a strange thing; a cruel mistress if you will that was soothed a different way for every person. Depression, her sister, was the same way in that there was no cookie cutter way to solve it; as well as you can't just bury it, since they were known for coming back as a ghosts to haunt you.
He knew he had not been hiding the two when he had seen Shea looking at him, because while he knew Lloyd was aware of his position and that Erica was suspicious, Shea never seemed to care all that much nor was he observant when it came emotional issues; He had shrugged it off, told the man to get back to work and stop staring at him like he had three heads. Shea of course had said a smart ass comment with small glare, which they all knew meant nothing in the newly darkened environment of the the warehouse, before following the order.
Eventually he was required to go back to the worn wood, to sit and work there, which he was able to do somehow. He felt as though it was unjust that he was there, since somehow he always thought it would be him first.
He knew that comparing them, he was the more reckless, the one to use the wisdom of his fist before going by the book. Of course that had changed when he had been forced, an honor supposedly given, to step up to fill some damn big shoes.
Looking back, he discovered that there were two kind of people in law enforcement; bosses and their sidekicks. Despite what some would say, there were usually more number twos, since not everyone could handle being in charged and being organized. But he would admit it, he was a sidekick, but a damn good one at that. He was good and enforcing, although his ideas of how to deal with things weren't always the best thing. That's why he was a number two; dealing with a wave of emotions caused a consideration of all these things.
He had wondered if Charlie had known that he had the potential to be the boss, he just needed the opportunity; which was why he had been elevated to the position he was in.
Or, as he had also considered, that his entire theory about first and seconds was completely wrong and did not exist; that he and his former partner were just that, partners. Brothers in a way, their roles defined as that of typical siblings; him being the younger brother, trying to do his own thing despite the fact of being in the older's shadow. Charlie was the older brother, the one who took care of everyone, even him; the one who had the 'I'm older' card in the bag with being US marshal while he was not. But at least they got along, kinda anyway; alright they didn't really get along usually, but at least both knew they had each others backs...
Or at least they, he, was supposed to.
The worse part, had someone asked him instead of giving him the classic bullshit line of 'I'm sorry for your loss even though I didn't know the guy', wasn't that he had the weight of the team ,of a new role on his hands.
He had not been there to fulfill the first and most absolute rule of having a partner, to watch their back.
Charlie may have been a fully trained Marshall with no reasons, other than a heart condition, for being vulnerable, but dammit he wasn't there. By the time he had gotten there, it was too late; he had to watch his partner die, choking on his own blood from a hole in his chest. He should have been there to be the extra set of eyes to spot trouble, to shoot the psycho they had been chasing so that his bullet was the first and only one to be fired. Charlie had been shot in the back, the area that he was solely responsible of protecting when on the job; figures that he would be shot there, the one moment he hadn't been there.
It was his fault, despite what Lloyd said or thought ; and he wasn't the only one who knew it.
Eyes were always watching him; officers, agents, marshals, convicts...but one set burned with the hate that he had for himself. For the most part, it was that first day back when the pain was too fresh to work a case and yet they did. The flowers had not helped, nor the fact that Damien was roaming the earth without a care in the world while they suffered. Erica a glared at him, especially when he was in the chair. No, it wasn't a chair, it was THE chair. It had faded with time, as the wound shared by them all had become scarred instead of freshly bleeding. But he knew she was trying to shift the blame onto something or someone and he was the closest target since Damian wasn't here to rip every fucking nerve ending from. Really, he didn't blame her, he did the same to himself, beating himself up despite the fact that Lloyd said not to.
More than once, he had heard Lloyd almost silently mumbling 'I should have stabbed the heart' to himself, in which he would ignore the man's way of coping and keeping himself going. If it had just been him, he would hunted the man down and gladly gone to prison or worse. But he was in charge of a team now, he couldn't go Rambo despite how much he wanted to. And somehow he had to, and did, convince the others that they couldn't go Rambo either. He was the big brother, the boss now, he had to continue the work that had been laid out.
He noticed about the third time it happened, or perhaps it was more than that and he just hadn't noticed; he was trying to get himself killed. One of the worst things you could do when alone was leave yourself, especially your back, open.
Being the only one with a weapon, well usually anyway since Lloyd tried to keep scissors on him at all times, he was the one to confront a potentially dangerous situation such as entering a location where the fugitive was possibly hiding. Clearing his mind, he would break down the door or sneak in while checking every room. Sometimes he had Erica, or another Con, behind him filling the role another had. But sometimes it was just him, a single part of a system in which there was suppose to be two.
So was the situation when he entered an apartment where the possible next target of the evil ridding convict Benny Cruz lived. Before reaching the door, there had been a gunshot. Already knowing the drill, Lloyd backed up without the order that he said anyway; then he drew his sidearm to pass through the door frame.
He had already passed a door before he realized he hadn't checked it; it's okay, he calmed himself while checking the rest, Charlie's got your back. The thought didn't recognize as false in the sharply cut fog of focus he was operating on, he just continued forward as he normally would.
Confronting the car was not the smartest thing in the world, neither was aiming for the windshield.
Don't worry, Charlie will aim for the tires.
The air pressure of the car barely sliding past him rattled a few nerves, but still nothing registered. Surprise rang in his ears at the fact that there wasn't a hand helping him up or that a voice wasn't barking orders into a phone.
What the hell was Charlie doing? He thought angrily, before getting up. The man should have shot the damn tires and this would all be over. He was going to kill the idiot...
His eyes closed for just a moment as it all hit.
Blood, bullet, cherry wood. Cool earth sliding against his palm into the dark hole, before the echoing silence of it hitting glossed surface. Wisps of air mixed with drops falling from higher than tears; surrounded by black and faint glints of those attending and watching.
The supposedly solid walls cracked, letting through just enough to make his body start to twitch as thousands of cells had their own version of a mental breakdown, and the concrete holding him up caved just enough to let his legs feel like lead.
Charlie was dead.
Charlie wasn't there to watch his back, to aim for the tires, to call the others...that was his job now. He felt the adrenaline fall out of his bloodstream; somehow he managed to open his eyes. He had to call the others, to make sure they had tabs on Cruz.
This could not effect him , it did not affect him as he had told Lloyd.
Pulling the phone from his pocket, he tried to ignore fact that his hands were shaking from something other than the cold surroundings. The words filtered in his ear and out the other to the point where he had to make himself focus to hear what they were saying; for the most part he just got pieces, which thankfully was enough.
They had chased, he had gotten away. Another body, Shea and Erica were safe.
And so was Lloyd.
He added on the last part to reassure himself, to not add another thing to his swirling chaos known as his mind. What he had heard, that's really all he needed to know and so he hung up the phone with an empty threat and a promise to be there soon.
He needed to find Lloyd and go after the guy.
But his legs wouldn't move; he expected to be yelled at soon, a hoarse order asking why the hell he wasn't moving. Silence seemed to be his friend in the moment, despite the fact that he knew that the world spinning wouldn't save him from the wrath of his partner. Then the man would yell at him, to which he would respond.
"Ray, you alright man?"
It wasn't real, he tried to confirm as his head pounded, making it hard to hear anything other than his own racing heartbeat.
"Talk to me man, what's going on?"
It echoed in his ear; he could almost feel the hand on his shoulder, about to shake him so that the owner would be recognized. It was a welcomed heat to combat the shaking chill running through his cells; even though he knew it was just a phantom existing only in his mind.
A phantom limb, as he understood it by the definition he had been given at the academy as a part of the class of how to deal with victims, is a an sensation experienced by house having lost a limb. For the most part, the feeling only was associated with limbs, not the mind. Perhaps one way of putting it in his case was calling it a delusion, imagining that someone was still on the earth when instead they were buried within it. But it was a phantom limb case, he knew it was, because he had lost his extra set of eyes. His instincts still thought someone was watching his back, which put him in more danger than he was aware of.
If it was a delusion, or a sensation of a phantom limb, really it didn't matter as it echoed in his ear again.
"Answer me, are your hurt?"
He really shouldn't, it would only making the dream stronger, but he found himself answering the non existing question "I'm fine"
The answer was bullshit and they both knew it; somehow he found that he could walk, so that Charlie wouldn't have another chance to corner him for a boss like intervention to explore his "feelings". The phantom seemed to fade when he found Lloyd, a person who represented reality; the man seemed a little freaked out, perhaps that wasn't why he noticed his current condition.
Eventually the case ended, the bad guy was taken care of; another solved case. Lloyd was studying him until the moment the transport back to Maybell, looking like he wanted to say something, but never did. He was tempted to ask, especially when the man brought the manila envelope to him. He was sitting at the desk again, which Charlie didn't seem to mind as he looked out the tainted window. Lloyd was saying something about Juliana, he really should care more, but he just put on his best fake smile and said sure. He knew Lloyd had seen his eyes glance to the window more than once, but the man said nothing.
Soon it was just him, the cons having gone back to prison and Jules having gone home; he, himself, and his mind, who happened to bring Charlie along for the ride. The darker man was now moving around the flat, organizing the files from the most recent case; taking the pictures down and such. He watched through the open office door, swearing that he could hear the heels of the man's boots hearing the floor.
He considered dealing with the alcohol having given to him as a promotion/apologies present, so that way he had a reason for seeing Charlie, because he was drunk. Maybe then, he could accept the phantom, knowing that he would be dealing with it.
Okay, so it wouldn't be dealing with it; but at least the cracks in his walls wouldn't get any bigger and the floor would fall out from under him more than it had. It might just work, he began to open the drawer where he knew it was, the cool bottle filled with the numbness needed. Perhaps he could laugh more then, do more stupid yoda impressions to make the Cons laugh, or grimace in Shea's case.
His hand was almost around the bottle neck, when he heard a knock against wood. He knew who it was even before he looked up, but he did it anyway, letting the tall image burn itself into his mind.
"Time for paperwork" The voice wasn't an echo like before, it was just as though it was there; saying the same thing it had so many times before. It was a practice they had always done, do the paperwork together so that it would get done faster.
"Fun" It was a vocal memory that led to the word being said, a muscle memory that led to the grimace.
"Well you know we have to do it. Pizza or Chinese takeout?" He could hear the sound of the man shifting slightly to lean against the wood, he swallowed.
It wasn't real, it could be.
The blood, he had seen it, the coffin...
"You better make up your mind or I'm ordering a large pizza with everything included anchovies and we both know how much you love those" He could hear the amusement in the man's voice, he didn't need to see the man's face to know there was a twinkle in the man's eyes.
Against his better judgment, his voice decided to kick in, his accent thicker than usual "There is no way in hell you are getting those nasty slug things on our meal, besides don't you need to be getting a salad or something? The last thing I need is you kneeling over from all that crap going to your heart"
A chuckle came into his ear, before a scoffed response that was dripping with sarcasm "Well I am so glad you care about my health Ray" Then the man walked towards the phone on Juliana's desk.
"Well someone has to" He muttered before lazily pretending to read the paper before him.
He knew that there was going to be a result to that insult because despite what was shown with the Cons, there were moments where the two of them would just poke fun at the other. They knew the other's buttons and how to push them, so most everything was fair game. Charlie would probably throw in some kickback to his Italian heritage just to try and piss him off.
Just give it a moment...
"I heard that, greaseball!" The growled response echoed the flat, he heard the beginnings of a laugh arise in his throat before it died as his logical mind tried to reclaim his sanity. Which was a failure as another set of words were said by the undead "So, a large with everything?"
This time he didn't even put up a fight in trying not to respond "Yeah, but I will personally shove the whole goddamn thing down your throat if you get anchovies"
There was a laugh, but nothing else but the murmurs of the order being placed.
When the phone was hung up the bottle of whatever the hell it was was open as well, a good sized sip having already burned his throat. Soon the pizza arrived and he ate it, while poking fun at Charlie for missing the tires, in which the man promptly told him to shut the hell up.
He missed this; being crazy isn't so bad if you could relive what normal was like.
Perhaps a new person would run tomorrow and the team would arrive to the scene around him; empty pizza box on the floor from where he tried to fling it like a Frisbee into the trash (to the amusement and mocking of Charlie) or the half full liquor bottle cradled in his hand from where he was slumped asleep in the office chair.
No, they wouldn't see it; everything would continue as usually.
The phantom would eventually go away, leaving him sane once again. At least that was what he had been told by the teacher teaching to the class he had taken on this type of stuff.
Everyone had a coping mechanism, he accepted the phantom as his, making sure that he could deal, that everything was alright. Everyone would know he was stable and able to lead the team, the stress wouldn't overwhelm him.
It was going to be alright, he knew this to be true as another hiss came from his burning throat, the result of alcohol being poured down it.
It would all get better soon, it would.
Charlie would make sure of it.