A Breakout Kings one shot
Written by: Cydney Daemon
I do not own and am in no way affiliated with this show or its owners. I am not making money off of this, however, this statement in no way protects me from the laws against copyright infringement. If the show's creators ever decide to prosecute those who write fanfiction based on the show, I will be majorly fucked. Have a good day.
There are a few things I must address before I begin writing (or you begin reading) this story. First off, I apologize if anything is not accurate or does not go with the latest season. I do not have satellite/cable and the only internet I have is on my cheap android phone that doesn't have flash or any other viewable media device so I have to wait until the season comes out on DVD for me to watch it. Yes. It DOES suck balls. But oh well. I know some of what's happened thanks to message boards and episode guides, but that doesn't always make up for firsthand experience. Secondly, this fanfiction is a oneshot based entirely around Mother's Day for the team, that being said, I have chosen to omit the "case scenes" because they were not my focus. Yes they are working on catching a fugitive at the time, and while I could've included the case, I decided not to because I didn't want to draw attention away from the team. Third, any pairings in this fanfiction or anything else is purely my otp and headcanon for this show. If anyone has a problem with any of these factors, well you can either not read the story or get over it. I won't respond to hate/flames so you're wasting your time leaving any. This was written for my own enjoyment and it was only the fact that there is not enough for my otp that made me decide to share it. Don't like it. Don't read it. It's just that simple.
On with the show . . .
Silence . . .
Erica didn't speak to anyone in the van. Her eyes glared out the window, and her fists clenched so hard that her knuckles turned white. Lloyd and Shea were mumbling something too low for her to hear, but she didn't care to listen. If anything, she wished they would just disappear for the day so she could be alone. She knew that was impossible though. Lloyd was jittery like he'd drunk a gallon of espresso, so his presence was even harder for her to ignore than Shea's calm and collected exterior. Still, she had to work with them so she would have to try to play nice.
Lloyd leaned over to Erica. "Happy Mother's Day."
Retorts ran through her head, so did the idea to slam his face into the front seat, but she suppressed them all and just shot him a look of pure fire before turning back to the window.
"Are you excited to see your daughter today?" Lloyd noticed her antagonism but he was unable to stop pushing.
She didn't answer. Her fury grew more and she dug her nails into her palms. It seemed playing nice would be harder than she thought.
"I'm excited to see my mom." He continued, purposely ignoring her temper flaring. "She should be there around noon. What time is your—"
"Lloyd." All she said was his name, but her voice was filled with so much venom that he stopped and even scooted back a little bit.
"I told you not to mess with her," Shea muttered to the genius before turning to look out his window.
Tension . . .
Shea opened the elevator door, but before he could step out, Erica pushed past him and stomped through the bullpen toward the bathroom.
"Happy Mother's Day." Julianne spoke meekly as she passed by, but didn't earn so much as a glance.
Ray watched Erica disappear from his sight, but not before he could glimpse the tears glimmering in her eyes. He felt a slight ache in his chest, but he ignored it. The bathroom door slammed shut, and he turned to Shea and Lloyd as the filed out of the elevator. "What's wrong with her?"
Shea shrugged. "She was like that when we got in the van. Lloyd almost got his neck snapped."
"That doesn't surprise me." Ray's eye focused in on the ex-professor. "What'd you do, Egghead?"
"I told her, 'Happy Mother's Day' and asked her if she's excited to see her daughter." Lloyd stuffed his hands in his pockets. "I'm going to make the assumption that this has something to do with her daughter."
"Really?" Shea stared at him in mock disbelief.
"It doesn't take a genius to figure that out." Ray added.
Lloyd opened his mouth to say more, but just then the bathroom door slammed open and Erica stomped back into the room. The whites of her eyes held a faint reddish hue, but other than that she showed no signs of having cried. She ignored everyone's stares and leaned against the edge of the desk she usually sat at. She glanced to Ray for a moment, but then settled her eyes on the floor and crossed her arms over her chest. Her emotions still weren't stable, and she hated the idea of appearing weak to him.
Slowly, everyone turned their gazes elsewhere. Ray's eyes lingered on her for a moment longer, but then he turned away and began announcing the details of their latest fugitive.
Intentions . . .
The silence in the bullpen irritated Lloyd. Normally they were all talking and throwing around their ideas or theories, even while studying the files. The atmosphere now choked everyone with rage, apprehension, and excitement, a dangerous mix of emotions, the most volatile of which pulsed off Erica in waves from where she sat at her desk. Lloyd looked around the room to his other colleagues. Shea sat at the desk on the opposite side of the room; his eyes kept going to the clock. Ray sat at the table. Lloyd though he saw him glance at Erica a few times, but he dismissed it as Ray keeping an eye on the ticking time bomb. Lastly, he looked to Julianne. She felt his eyes and looked at him over the top of her computer screen. Their eyes locked for a moment. Lloyd's heart sped up, and they both looked away.
He hesitated, debating with himself. Finally he took a deep breath and stood and walked over to Julianne, leaning on her desk. She looked up at him but didn't speak.
"Is your mother coming by today?" Lloyd asked.
"Well I live with her and see her everyday so . . ." Julianne answered. Her eyes shifted between him and her computer screen.
"Oh . . . are you going to do anything special for her today?" Lloyd kept his voice low but it still wasn't low enough.
Erica abruptly stood, almost knocking her chair over. Lloyd winced at the scrape of the chair against the floor and glanced over his shoulder to see her storm out of the room and disappear in the break room. He also took notice of the way Ray watched her cross the room and lingered on the doorway she left through. Lloyd turned back to Julianne before his curiosity could take hold, and he mentally reminded himself of his present task.
"I'm taking her out to lunch," Julianne answered once his attention was focused back on her.
"That's nice." He smiled.
Julianne returned his smile. "What about your mom? Is she coming by today?"
He crossed his legs. "Yeah, she's supposed to be here around noon."
"Oh do you have plans?" She didn't know what Ray permitted the cons to do with their special day, but she was sure Lloyd wouldn't just sit around the bullpen with his mother all day.
He shrugged and rested his elbows on her desktop and his head in his hands. "I don't know. I figured I'd show her around here and then take her downstairs to get some pizza."
"Are you excited to see her?" Julianne watched him with her warm eyes. She knew about his conflicting feelings concerning his mother . . . everyone knew.
"Yeah." It was partially true. He couldn't bring himself to admit to the falsehood of his statement, not on this day of all days. "It's been a while since I've seen her. I hope she's proud of what I've helped to do here." He glanced around the bullpen again, avoiding the break room where Erica still hid and ignoring the glances Ray kept shooting in that direction.
"I'm sure she is." Julianne offered her best hopeful smile. She opened her mouth to add something more, but decided better of it on second thought.
Lloyd attempted to mirror her smile, but his attention was drawn away once more when Ray rose from his chair and started for the break room.
Pain . . .
"Danny, answer your phone. Quit sending me to voice mail." Erica spoke into her cell phone, keeping her voice quiet so no one in the other room could hear her.
The voicemail woman cut her off for the third time. She slammed her phone shut, reopened it and hit re-dial. The phone rang continuously. Her fist tightened and she held it at her side. Before the voicemail woman could interrupt, there was a break in the ringing like someone answered and then immediately followed by a click. The sound of someone hanging up. Erica felt tears stinging her eyes, and she bit down on her tongue to keep from giving into the sobs. She hit re-dial again and waited for the ringing to begin again. This time, after the third ring, there was a break and then Danny's voice.
"Stop calling me, Erica." He didn't shout, but there was a dangerous note in his voice.
"Not until you let me talk to her," Erica demanded.
"No. I told you, 'not today.'"
"No. You said I couldn't see her today. You didn't say anything about not talking to her." She felt her temper rising to unspeakable levels. The monster inside of her felt ready to break out of its cage. It took all she had not to yell.
"Well I'm saying no now." He shot back.
"She's my kid too, Danny." Her tone rose but still not at a full blown shout.
"Unfortunately." Danny muttered it, but she still heard.
That was it. She lost it. "It's Mother's Day! You get to see her every day! The least you could do is put her on the damn phone! I never get to see her!"
"Yeah, and that's your fault!" Danny yelled back.
"Goddamn you, Danny! She's my daughter!" Tears escaped her eyes, but she didn't bother to wipe them away.
"She's my daughter too, and I'm not letting you talk to her until you get your shit together." There was a click and the line went dead. He hung up.
Erica closed her phone and glared at it in her hands. She sat it on the counter in front of her and felt her heart race. Her adrenaline pulsed. Her rage burned through her so much that she felt like she was seconds from slipping into insanity. She needed something to do. Something to hit. Something to break. She spun around and grabbed the nearest chair. Without thinking, she swung it into the opposite wall. It crashed into the wall with a deafening bang and clattered to the floor, managing not to break despite the force she used. Her chest heaved up and down. Her breathing was rampant, and her adrenaline began calming. As her senses cleared she realized that she was being watched, and her eyes fell on the doorway. There he stood. Ray. And for a moment, she didn't care that he was a witness to her outburst or that she might get in trouble. She didn't care that tears streaked her face and that she probably looked like she'd need to catch a ride to the loony bin. All that mattered to her was the never-ending ache in her chest that again reminded her that she was alone. That her life was being taken from her and there was nothing she could do but stand still and watch it fall apart. And here standing before her was the one person solely responsible for her opportunity to get at least one part of her life back, and it wasn't changing anything. Her daughter was still being kept from her and there was nothing she or anybody else could do. There was nothing she could do except stand there and look weak in front of him. Ray. Possibly the one person who could ever understand her, though neither would admit it.
Erica turned away from him and wiped her eyes. More tears welled up, but she forced them back. She heard Ray walk further into the room and move closer to her. She ignored him and stuffed her cell phone in her pocket. He stopped next to her, but she refused to look at him. Erica grabbed a cup and began fixing some coffee for herself.
"Erica." His strong voice was surprisingly gentle.
She ignored him.
"Erica." This time he spoke harder.
"I don't want to talk about it, Ray." She kept her voice steady, but inside she felt her heart tremble. Her hand tightened around her cup as she stirred the coffee.
"You ok—" Ray started.
She spun on him. "I'm good, Ray! I'm good!"
They stood in silence for a moment, staring each other down. Their blue eyes locked. His almost identical mirrors of hers burned with intensity, the same intensity she'd see in her own eyes if she looked in a mirror, and some deeper that she couldn't quite comprehend. Hers shined with the lasting tears of heartache and that same intensity. Still something more glimmered in her eyes that he couldn't gauge from her. Erica forced her eyes away and tossed her stirrer on the counter before stomping out of the room. Ray was left standing by the counter. His mind spun with questions and emotions that didn't even make sense to him, or perhaps they would've made sense if he would listen.
Joy . . .
The van parked outside the building, and Shea was the first one out. Lloyd soon followed and then Erica because she didn't want to risk Ray trying to make her talk about her earlier outburst. She knew if he wanted, he could force her to talk but so far he left her alone. All four trudged inside with Shea at the lead taking them to the elevator.
"What time is it?" Lloyd asked.
Ray looked at his phone. "Almost noon."
"Mother should be arriving at any time." Lloyd's jitters only grew worse the closer it got to his mother's expected arrival time.
Erica shot an annoyed glare his way, but he ignored her. Even Shea seemed antsy.
"My ma won't be getting here until one or two." Shea shared. "My girl's picking her up after she has lunch with her ma."
Erica tightened her arms over her chest and focused her icy gaze on the floor. Her scowl deepened. Being in the elevator with them at the moment only felt like torture to her, causing her temper to heighten, and she could feel Ray watching her in case she was about to explode.
The elevator halted at their floor, and they all entered the bullpen. Erica stomped off the elevator first and disappeared once more. Ray went to his office and shut the door, and Lloyd took the initiative to tidy up the table where he'd been sitting earlier. Julianne was on her computer searching more information for a lead, and just as Shea made his way to his desk, his cellphone rang. He fished his phone out of his pocket and answered it after a quick look at the caller id. It was Vanessa, his girlfriend.
"Hey, Baby. What's up?" He walked to the break room so they'd have more privacy.
"I just wanted to let you know I'm on my way to get your mom and then we'll be on our way there," she replied.
"'Kay. Be careful. I love you." He spoke in a hushed tone, which didn't at all represent his hidden excitement.
"I love you too, Baby." She cooed.
They hung up, and Shea returned to the other room. Erica was still out of sight, but Ray had left his office and was listening to Julianne explain something. Lloyd had joined the two, but he looked up at Shea the moment he heard him enter. The question in Lloyd's face told Shea that his curiosity was, once again, getting the better of him. He didn't usually share information, but with all his excitement it just about spilled out and he let it go since it didn't seem dangerous.
"It was just my girl letting me know she's on her way to get my ma."
Lloyd leaned back on his arm and looked back between Shea and the two others. "Oh we get to meet Mama Daniels. This is going to be so interesting. To meet your mom and see where you came from."
Shea crossed the room to reach their side, he shot Lloyd a look but didn't appear as though he was threatening him.
Waiting . . .
Lloyd sat in his chair. His eyes shifted between the elevator and the stairwell. Then he looked to the clock. It was thirteen minutes past twelve. He told himself over and over that his mother would be there. She'd arrive in a few minutes. There was just traffic. Unconscious of his movements, his legs began shaking.
"Calm down, Lowery." Shea called from his desk.
Lloyd glanced at Shea and then down to his legs. He put his hands on his legs to stop them and then propped his elbows up on his legs and rested his head in his hands. His eyes once again returned to the door.
The room wasn't quiet. Erica's voice reached out from the break room, again she was pleading with her daughter's father. The tears and aching sorrow could be heard in her tone. The clatter of keys came from Julianne's laptop as she searched through files to find another lead. Ray's angry voice could be heard through his closed office door as he argued with the director about the progress on the case. The anxiety only fed Lloyd's nerves and drove him closer to a frenzy.
He continued staring and the elevator, stairs, and the clock. Nothing changed except the time. No one appeared. No one even called. By the time the clock ticked to twelve-thirty, he had all but deflated in his chair. His eyes were on the floor. His shoulders were slumped. He couldn't even fake a smile for Julianne.
Five minutes later, the elevator door scraped open. Lloyd jumped up, but he immediately sunk back to his chair when the person turned out to be a woman he'd never met before.
"Mom, I'll be right there," Julianne's voice spoke behind him.
Lloyd perked up. Even the barest smile could be seen on his lips. He stood. "You're Julianne's mother?"
"Yes, I am." The woman smiled in return.
"What a delight to meet you. I'm Lloyd Lowery. Doctor Lloyd Lowery." He stretched out his hand, which she took, and gave her hand a gentle but firm shake.
"Oh yes, I've heard about you. Julianne talks about you quite often." She took her hand back and hefted her purse onto her shoulder.
"She does?" If Lloyd was a dog, his ears would've perked up, but alas, all he could do was give a vague smile and turn to glance back at Julianne as her cheeks turned the color of a fire engine.
"Yes, she—" Julianne's mother began.
"Mom!" Julianne interrupted, grabbing her purse and rushing to her side. "We should go get lunch now."
"Oh yes." The woman nodded. She turned back to Lloyd. "It was nice meeting you."
"It was nice meeting you too." He tried to give an honest smile, but as the reminder of his mother's tardiness came to his mind, he couldn't even fake it. He slumped back down into his chair and his eyes returned to the clock.
Julianne started to lead her mother to the stairs, but an exaggerated cough from Shea caused her to turn around. She caught sight of Lloyd's dejected expression, and her heart ached for him. Her throat tightened, but she forced herself to speak past it. "Lloyd, would you like to come with us?"
Lloyd's eye flickered to her, and a glimmer of hope flashed over his face. But then he thought of his mother. "Thanks Julianne, but I probably shouldn't. Mother may come while I'm gone and then she'll be upset."
"Well we can eat downstairs, that way if your mom comes in, you can see her and she can join us," Julianne suggested.
"That works." He leapt up but then paused when he looked to Julianne's mom. "But I wouldn't want to disturb your evening with your mother."
Julianne's mother waved her hand. "It's fine. You wouldn't be disturbing us. Anyone who helps my daughter is welcome. The more the merrier."
"Why thank you, Ms. Simms." He smiled. "I'm going to go tell Ray."
Lloyd walked to Ray's office and poked his head inside. "My mother isn't here yet, but I'm going downstairs with Julianne and her mom to eat and continue waiting for my mom."
"Okay. Don't do anything stupid," Ray answered.
Lloyd shut the door to Ray's office and joined Julianne and her mother. They disappeared through the stairwell door and went downstairs, where they sat in a booth and Lloyd faced the door so he could see anyone who entered. As time passed though he found himself forgetting the door and the ache in his chest from his mother's absence, and he got caught up in the lunch and conversation with Julianne and her mother. He even noticed that he was smiling after awhile, and he started to wonder if maybe he really didn't need his mother.
Questions . . .
The bullpen was more peaceful with Lloyd and Julianne downstairs. Their agonizing not-quite-a-relationship-yet always coated over the place with its own unique batch of anxiety, and with Erica acting like a bundle of dynamite with sparks flying, it was just moments before something lit the fuse and she exploded. Shea could focus on his job without having to worry about needing to duck for cover anytime soon. Shea sifted through the file on his desk, and Ray sifted through more files on the table. Erica stomped back into the room after her most recent excursion to argue with her daughter's father, and she threw herself in her chair and forced herself to turn her attention to her own copies of the files.
Shea's cellphone rang and Ray looked over to him as he answered it. Erica didn't move. Shea glanced at the caller id and saw that it was his girlfriend, and then his eyes flicked to the clock and noted that it was one-thirty. "Hey Baby."
"Hey, Baby. Your mom and I are waiting for you downstairs. We grabbed a table at the back," Vanessa greeted with a smile in her voice.
"Okay. I'll be right down." He hung up and stood, his eyes looked levelly at Ray. "My girl and my ma are downstairs. Can—"
"Go on. If we need you and Lloyd, we'll come get you." Ray waved him off.
"Thanks, Boss." Shea went to the elevator and shut the door behind him.
The elevator stopped at the restaurant floor, and Shea got out and looked around the restaurant until he spotted his girlfriend and mother sitting in the back. He walked over to them and they both stood, their faces beamed with happiness.
"Oh Ma, it's good to see you," he mumbled as he wrapped his mother in a tight hug.
"It's good to see you too, Sweetie. I miss you so much," she replied, squeezing him back.
They released each other, and he kissed his girlfriend before they all took their seats, him between the two ladies. He caught a glimpse of Lloyd in a booth with Julianne and her mom and he turned back to his mom and his girlfriend.
"Did you two already order?" He asked though he already knew the answer.
"Yes, your mom ordered everything already." Vanessa motioned towards his mom, and then she continued, "but don't worry. She's not paying for a thing."
"Good." He focused on his mom. "This is your day, Ma. I want you to get everything you want."
"You know what I really want?" She asked with a sly grin.
He already knew what was coming, but he had to play along with it anyways. "What?"
"Some grandchildren. I know you can't have any right now, but when you get out, it would be nice to have some little ones running around. And you two would make such beautiful babies." Her tone sounded so innocent, like she wasn't even conscious of the words coming out of her mouth.
"Ma . . ." He knew better.
"Or at least a wedding. I would love to see you marry. You and Vanessa are already as good as married, so I don't see why it can't be made official." Shea opened his mouth, but his mom went on. "Oh it could be a big party with tons of roses and lights. It could be held in our church. Vanessa, you could wear a beautiful gown trimmed in lace. It would be—"
"Ma." Shea interrupted. "Maybe one day. But right now it's a little hard to make plans for our future."
She waved her hand. "Oh nonsense. With this program you're in now, you'll be out sooner than you know it. And then you'll be wondering what to do with your life."
He stifled a chuckle at his mother's attempts at persuasion. She certainly was no Philly, but he knew his mother could be scary when she wanted to so he cut his laugh short when she gave him a particular look. "Ma, I know you want these things, and I will give them to you one day. But now is not the time to plan it."
"Okay." She seemed a little deflated, but then something else crossed her mind and she perked right up. "So how is the program going so far?"
"Good." He nodded.
"Oh Honey, I'm so proud of you and the work you're doing. Well you know, I'm always proud of you, but this is . . . you're working towards something good and I couldn't be prouder." Her smile was so wide that it seemed like her cheeks might split open.
"Thanks, Ma." Shea leaned forward and placed a kiss on her cheek.
He sat back in his chair, and the waitress stepped up to the table and sat their pizza in the middle of the table. She gave them a quick, "Enjoy!" and darted off to serve her other tables. Shea, his mother, and his girlfriend settled in with their food and conversation. For one of the rare times, Shea didn't think about later when he'd have to return to the prison, and he didn't worry about what would result in the end of this case. His mind stayed focused on the moment, and he just enjoyed it.
Tears . . .
The bullpen was so silent, Ray and Erica could hear each other's breathing from across the room. Neither of them had moved since Shea left, unless one counted Ray's occasional glances in Erica's direction which he was trying to stop. In fact it seemed Erica wasn't moving at all. She was like a statue. Ray knew she was there. Her presence always was impossible to ignore, at least it was for him, he didn't really know if it was for anyone else. He never talked about her with anyone else. He knew she sat at her desk with her hands in a death grip on the file and her eyes glued to the paper, exactly how she'd been sitting when Shea went downstairs. The glances he cast her way only assured him of the fact that she hadn't moved, but now the more he thought about it, he realized he'd never even saw her blink. He dismissed the worry building in him as a need to keep his team together and looked at her once more. This time he really looked at her. Her glassy eyes stared at the papers in her hands, but it was obvious she wasn't even reading them. Her grip on the file was so tight, her entire hands turned ghost-white. She looked like at any minute she could either break down or break something. The ache from earlier seemed amplified through his chest as he watched her, but again, he dismissed it as nothing more than a strange understanding of how she felt.
He thought for a moment. He had a daughter of his own. He knew what it was like not to be allowed to see her all the time, and it especially hurt when he hadn't been allowed to see her on special occasions. Disregarding all his previous thoughts and notions about Erica, he could only be sure of one thing now. She was dealing with a pain that no one should have to feel, and he knew every ache she was feeling. There was more to it, to why it hurt him to see her in such pain, but he still wasn't ready to listen to that part yet. No, not yet. Still, he stood and grabbed the keys off the table. He stepped out from behind the table and pulled on his leather jacket before heading for the elevator.
"I'll be right back."
Erica jerked her head up in his direction. "What? Don't you want me to come with you?"
"No, this is just a quick errand. Jules, Lloyd, and Shea are downstairs. Don't try anything." He was pretty sure she wouldn't try anything, but it was hard to tell with her. Where the team was concerned with personality and mood, she was the wild card. Well, and himself, but he wouldn't admit to that either.
She lowered her head back to the papers in front of her and didn't reply. Ray passed her desk as her crossed the room to the elevator, and he caught sight of what she was really looking at. It was the picture he gave her of her daughter when she first joined the team. His frown deepened, and he boarded the elevator and shut the door behind him. The elevator descended to the bottom floor, and he went outside to the van after sending a text message to Julianne, Lloyd, and Shea that he'd be back soon and that Erica was upstairs. Once in the van, Ray drove off and kept with the speeding traffic.
Ray reached his destination in under thirty minutes. He parked outside the small apartment complex and scanned the apartments for the one he was looking for. His eyes landed on an upper apartment with a small pink bicycle outside. He hadn't been there before, but he remembered Charlie telling him about what he did for Erica after one of their cases by bringing her to see her daughter. Ray got out of the van and climbed the stairs to the apartment. There was a small flare in his temper, but he was able to hold it back and knock on the door like a normal person.
A tall, skinny man with long hair answered the door. Upon first sight, Ray could only think about how random Erica's taste in men seemed, but then the guy opened his mouth and was reminded of his mission. "Who are you? What do you want?"
"U. S. Marshal. I'm Deputy Ray—"
"Wait, you're that other guy Erica works for?" The man interrupted. "Did she send you here to make me bring my daughter there to see her?"
"She's her daughter too." Ray then added, "and it's Mother's Day."
"Too bad. I'll tell you exactly what I told her." The guy narrowed his eyes. "When she gets her psycho ass shit together, then she can see her daughter."
Something about the way he talked about Erica set Ray off. He still managed to keep a hold of himself, but he didn't know for how long. "What's your problem? It's one day! She deserves at least that much!"
"This is none of your business!" He argued.
Ray stepped closer to him. "You know what, this is my business because—"
"Oh I get it." He interrupted again, this time a mock laugh accompanied his words. "You're banging her. You have a thing for Erica and you can't stand to see her upset. I should've known. That bitch always—"
That was the last fuse. Ray glanced into the doorway. "Where's your daughter?"
"In her room, but you're not—" He didn't get a chance to finish.
Ray grabbed the front of his shirt, picked him up, and slammed him against the open door, holding him there. "Listen you little worm, talk to me like that again and I'll break you in half. Now your daughter is going back with me so she can see her mother, then I will bring her back here when her mother has to go back to prison, and you will not give Erica any grief about this or I will come back here and make sure you regret it. Do we have an agreement?"
"Y . . . y . . . yes." The man squeaked.
"Good." Ray dropped the man and stepped over him and through the doorway. He navigated his way through the apartment and found the door to Erica's daughter's room. He knocked and it was opened by the same little girl that was in Erica's picture. Ray knelt down to her level. "Hi, I'm Deputy Ray Zancanelli. I work with your mother. Would you like to spend the day with her?"
"Yes." The little girl nodded eagerly.
"I'll take you to her." He held out his hand and she took hold of it. He led her out of her room and back out the front door, past her dad who gave her an encouraging smile that any child under ten would believe. Ray helped her into the backseat, and they drove back to the bullpen, though more safely this time.
Ray helped her out of the van once they reached the building, and he led her to the elevator inside. The elevator rose to the bullpen floor, and the door scraped open.
"Mom!" The girl shouted after spotting Erica at her desk.
Erica's head jerked toward them. Her red eyes were puffy and her cheeks were stained with tears. Her mouth fell open and for a moment, she was so stunned she couldn't move. Then she stood. Her and her daughter ran the short distance to each other. Erica caught her in her arms and lifted her up, burying her face in her hair.
"Happy Mother's Day." The little girl murmured against her mother.
"Thank you." Erica replied, more tears fell from her eyes, but these ones were happier. She looked to Ray, he stood back from them, but he watched the whole display. Their eyes locked, and she smiled. "Thank you."
He nodded in return. "I'll have them bring up some pizza."
Ray went to his office and called down to the restaurant while Erica stayed where she was, still holding her daughter tight in her arms. She carried her daughter into the break room and sat down with her. Ray appeared in the doorway soon after.
"The pizza will be here in a few minutes," he voiced and then turned to leave the room. "Ray, wait." Erica's heart sped up just as the words fell from her lips. She didn't even know where they came from, but then found herself saying of her own volition, "You can join us if you want."
"Thanks, Erica, but I think—"
"Come on." Her intense stare fixated on him.
He finally nodded and sat down with them. The pizza arrived a few minutes later, and they all ate and talked together.
They sat together until the rest of the team rejoined them upstairs, and then Erica and Ray had to get back to work. Erica's daughter sat in the break room and kept herself busy by drawing with the pens and paper Ray gave her. Julianne sat with her while the others left to apprehend the fugitive they were after. Once the team returned, Erica spent more time with her daughter until it drew close to time for the cons to return to prison. Erica carried her daughter out to the van. Ray, Shea, and Lloyd led the way and climbed in before them. Erica sat in the back with her daughter, and she tried her hardest to ignore the deep ache in her chest at having to leave her daughter once more.
Ray parked the van outside of the apartment building and looked at Erica through the rearview mirror. Her eyes glistened over with tears, and her hesitant struggle with herself was obvious to anyone who looked at her. "Erica." The way he stated her name sounded plain to the untrained ear, but underneath his tone was layered with understanding and meaning.
She locked her eyes with his in the mirror, and their stare communicated a thousand things that neither one was ready for. She forced her eyes away and looked down to her daughter. The girl was cuddled into her side, hugging her tight. She didn't want to leave her mother either. Tears trickled down the young girl's cheeks and she tightened her tiny arms around her mom. Erica pulled her daughter into her lap and cradled her against her. Tightening her own arms around her, she buried her face in her daughter's hair. A few tears slipped from Erica's eyes and she didn't bother to wipe them away. She held her daughter still, and the minutes ticked past. She would have to go soon.
Erica placed a gentle kiss on top of her daughter's head and then opened the door and climbed out of the van. She carried her daughter toward the stairs and let her tears fall freely onto her daughter's hair.
"We'll see each other again. I promise." Erica murmured to her daughter as they neared the stairs.
"I don't want you to go." Her daughter replied and more tears rolled free from her eyes.
"I know. I don't want to go, but I have to." Erica squeezed her tight. "But we will see each other again. I promise, we will. Nothing will stop me. You believe me don't you?"
"Yes." The little girl didn't even hesitate when she answered.
"I love you, Sweetie." Erica climbed the stairs as slow as she could.
"I love you too, Mom." She whispered and cried into Erica's shoulder.
"I love you so much." Erica reached that dreaded door and knocked on it once. She only had a brief window of time before Danny appeared and took her daughter away from her again. She pulled her daughter back so she could lock eyes with her. "I love you so much, and we will be together again. I promise. We will be together again. I love you."
"I love you too."
They wrapped each other in another tight hug, and Erica pressed another kiss to her head. The door opened and Danny appeared. Before she released her daughter to Danny's arms, Erica whispered one last, "I love you" to her daughter's ear. Danny glanced once at Erica, took her daughter, and then closed the door. Erica stood in silence for a moment. Her eyes fixed on the door while tears streaked her face. She was torn. She wanted to beat down the door and take her daughter back, but she knew she couldn't. The war within her was at a standoff. Neither side knew which would be the first to fire or which would win.
"Erica." Ray's strong voice brought her back. She turned and saw him standing by the van with the door open. Lloyd and Shea watched intently from inside the van. "You'll see her again."
Ray said it like he'd heard her telling it to her daughter, but she knew he didn't. He was too far away to have heard her. That meant his faith came from some source other than herself. Or maybe it was because of herself. She thought of the look the shared in the van and all the things that might've passed between them. It could've meant a million different things, she thought. The only thing that was for certain was their understanding of each other and so she decided his faith simply came from knowing himself. She cast one last look at the door and then descended the stairs. Her promise to her daughter echoed in her mind, "We will be together again." She reached the van and shared another look with Ray, this one not so guarded. The emotions and ideas they'd questioned so many times before were near the surface. They could plainly see them in each other's eyes, but they both turned away without a word and got in the van.
This was intended to be posted on Mother's Day, but I was busy with work so it was a little delayed. I've not really done any editing or revising with this piece so I hope it doesn't seem too bad. Anyways, I hope you've enjoyed it. And this was just a one-shot, but I may write an accompanying piece for Father's Day next month if I get any ideas for it.