AN: I wrote the first few chapters of this story in between the first and second episodes of season 2. I had the idea prior to the season's start, but adjusted it to fit the 2x01 shocker, and it actually worked out quite nicely. It's just a shame I didn't get the story done faster so I could post it sooner. I've made it a personal rule over the years to only post stories that I have finished. Because if you're here right now then you certainly now how much it sucks to cut a story short before seeing it to the end...
"What's on your mind, Dr. Lowery?"
Lloyd looked across the table at Dr. Lorenzo then averted his gaze to take in the small room, a private visiting room that had been set up for the cons' grief counseling sessions with the sixty-something year old man who now stared at Lloyd, pencil in hand but at rest.
"Actually, I was sort of wondering the same thing myself. Pretty sure these are the rooms usually reserved for conjugal visits..."
"Admittedly it's not my preferred setting for our meetings, but it's all the marshal's office would spring for." Dr. Peter Lorenzo allowed the briefest of smiles to flash on his otherwise serious expression. "Funny you mention that, though, your teammate Mr. Daniels made the same joke this morning in our session."
"Really?" Lloyd answered, leaning towards Dr. Lorenzo confidentially. "What else did the two of you talk about?"
"Dr. Lowery, you know I can't divulge any of that. Anyway, we're not here to talk about Shea. Or any of my other work, for that matter. We're here to talk about you, and Charlie Duchamp and Damien Fontleroy and anything else you feel the need to discuss. We've been at it 30 minutes now—of a 60 minute session, I might add—and so far all you've been willing to talk about has been the latest in our field of work."
"Maybe that is all I want to talk about. Or maybe, I just wanted an hour away from the prisoner's yard to talk with someone normal and intelligent, someone who hasn't spent any portion of their life in cuffs." Lloyd looked up at the clock and realized he wasn't sure whether he wished for it to move faster or slower. Dr. Lorenzo studied the convict carefully and Lloyd picked up on this. "So, what? You'd rather I talk about—about how sad I am that my boss died in front of me, about my hopes and fears regarding this job? Maybe how I am constantly terrified that that psycho is going to come back and shoot me in the back too?"
Dr. Lorenzo gave a half shrug. "If that's what you wish to talk about."
Lloyd scoffed. "This whole thing is stupid... You know, what I really want to know is this: what exactly did the marshals think they were going to accomplish by having me talk to you? I've got a PhD and almost 20 years of experience in psychological therapy. I already know what you're going to say about me. You're going to say that I'm being evasive and defensive due to a combination of P.T.S.D. and my egotistical belief that I have all the answers. You're going to say that I am suffering from maybe the teensiest bit of guilt due to my previous association with Damien and the fact that I was the last person to talk to Charlie alive. You're then going to tell me not to blame myself for Charlie's death or Damien's rampage, because I'm not responsible for the actions of that psychotic killer." At this point Lloyd pushed his chair back and stood, looking down at Dr. Lorenzo. "All of this, I can deduce on my own. What is it you think you're going to tell me that I don't already know?"
The older man took all this in calmly and looked up to meet Lloyd's gaze. "Well, Doctor, I guess you've done all the hard work for me already."
Lloyd huffed and looked down at his hands, noticing the ever so slight shaking that hadn't quite gone away since Damien had reentered the picture. He hid his hands behind his back quickly, hoping that Dr. Lorenzo hadn't seen but knowing he had. "This session is over. I don't think we should do this anymore," Lloyd answered succinctly, buzzing for the guard to remove him back to his cell. "It's a waste of both of our time."
Ray sat in the empty office, reclining in his old chair while he rubbed a smudge on his newly-reinstated badge. He'd been waiting so long to hold that shield again, to know that it finally meant something once more, but he never wanted it to happen like this. He was in the process of moving his things out of the halfway house and into a new apartment, but he couldn't yet bring himself to move his things into Charlie's office; it hadn't even been a week.
Julianne was on her way back with the cons. Ray figured the marshal's office would want to assign him a new partner to help manage the team, but that hadn't happened yet, probably because they wanted to see how well Ray stood on his own two feet first. It was all for the best, really. Ray didn't want anyone else around anyway. The thought of someone else coming in to fill the void left by Charlie was unthinkable, insulting even...
When the rest of his team arrived, looking predictably sullen, Ray put his game face on, stuffing the badge in his back pocket. It felt beyond strange being the one leading the briefing, especially after all that they'd been put through; thankfully, Jules helped out where she could by taking over the task of presenting the file on their escaped con.
"This runner is 46-year-old Harold Lutz," Julianne said, passing out the envelopes to each team member. "He was an accountant until it was discovered that he was manufacturing methamphetamines secretly on the side. By the time law enforcement finally caught on to him, even his family had no idea."
"Great, so we're chasing Walter White?" Ray prompted.
"Who is that?" Shea and Lloyd asked at the same time. Erica shrugged, equally bewildered.
Ray just shook his head and waved a hand. "Never mind..."
Julianne smiled discreetly at Ray. "Anyway, Lutz was incarcerated in 2009 in maximum security after he was involved in the death of a dealer that worked for him and escaped today during a prison transfer. He killed the guard that was handling him by stabbing him with a shiv he... MacGuyvered in prison. He is now armed with a gun and believed to be unstable—" A beeping noise sent Julianne running for her computer, her eyes scanning briefly before looking up. "And apparently was recently spotted at the apartment complex of a known associate, Julio Diaz. It's about twenty minutes from here."
"Well, let's get on it then, no time for pissin' around today." Ray ushered the cons towards the door as Julianne called out after them.
"I'll, uh—keep you updated. If I hear anything."
"Anyway, I don't know where you guys found that... that quack but if he is the best the marshal's office can find, then I'll... eat my hat," Lloyd finished his over-long ramble as Shea raised an eyebrow at his choice of expressions.
"I heard Dr. Lorenzo came highly recommended," Ray provided, glancing at the two men in the backseat through the rearview mirror. Erica sat up front, leaning on her hand as she stared out the window at the cars they sped past.
"Recommended by whom, may I ask?" Lloyd scoffed. "Because that man is an amateur at best."
"That amateur has 35 years under his belt, which, I think, is a bit more than you had before you got canned," Ray argued. "And of the two of you, which one has a license?" the marshal added facetiously. "Is it you, Lloyd?" Lloyd leaned back in his seat, arms folded. "Yeah, I thought so. Look, I don't care if you don't talk to Lorenzo but you gotta talk to somebody, Lowery. And the same goes for you princess," Ray jerked his head at Erica, whose only response was to turn her head slightly towards the marshal. "I heard you refused even one sit down. What's up with that?"
"I just don't see that I have anything to discuss," Erica responded plaintively. "Can we just talk about the case, please?"
Ray squinted at her briefly before returning his gaze to the road. "Alright... Fair enough." They pulled onto the side street Julianne had indicated, a neighborhood in a decidedly decrepit part of town, and Ray had barely gotten the address in his sights when several shots rang out from inside. Ray slammed on the breaks in the middle of the street and threw open his door at the same time as Erica. "Shea, you're with me. Erica, go around and cover the back."
"Not without a weapon."
Ray hesitated briefly before handing over his backup gun. "I'm trusting you with this—"
"Yeah, yeah," Erica was already off, weapon at her side.
"Wait, what do I do?" Lloyd asked from the backseat.
Ray shrugged. "I don't care, just wait here. Go park the car or something."
"But I can't drive," Lloyd pointed out.
"I don't care what you do with the car, Lloyd, just move it!" Ray yelled as he and Shea ran towards the front door.
Lloyd weighed his options quickly then resignedly got out and hopped into the driver's seat. "This is suuuuuch a bad idea," he muttered to himself, putting both hands on the steering wheel. He fumbled around for a minute to get his bearings, trying to figure out exactly how long it had been since he'd been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. His mom had tried to teach him so many times in his teens and twenties, but it always ended in a screaming match when he inevitably added another dent or ding to her already-beat-up 83' station wagon. Awkwardly, he adjusted the mirror, then the seat, then the mirror again and was just about to throw the car into drive when the passenger's side door was yanked open and Lloyd found himself staring down the barrel of a gun for the second time that week.
The unmistakable face of the man they were chasing was behind that gun, and it never left Lloyd's line of sight as the runner climbed into the car, hauling a large duffel bag with him, which he threw in the back seat before slamming the door shut behind him. Harold Lutz looked Lloyd straight in the eye. "Drive."
"Allllllrighty then." Lloyd looked wildly at the house, but Ray and the others were nowhere in sight.
"NOW, or I'll shoot you in the head, kick your lifeless body out of the car and do it myself."
"You got it, pal," Lloyd answered quickly and slammed his foot on the gas, peeling out just as he spied Ray and Shea running out of the house, shouting something he couldn't hear. "Well," Lloyd muttered. "Son of a bitch."