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Jun. 5th, 2011

yummy
Fandom: BOK
Beta: allysue08
Disclaimer: Everything important was created by other people.
Title: Lay Down Your Burdens, Part V: A Day in the Life
Summary: Something inside Lloyd is pushing him a little further than he cares to go.
 
Part I Here
 
 
 
Everything is bright and far away. She feels like she’s hearing an alien voice, ordering, paying, leaving. She feels as if her hands belong to someone else.

But she does not flee, and she does not shut down.



*****



She gets in the car, sets her coffee in the cup holder. She puts her hands, shaking, on the wheel. She closes her eyes.

“How could she see you when Lloyd couldn’t?” She turns her head, looks at him; he is lounging obscenely in the passenger seat.

He raises his eyebrows slightly. “Are you so sure she did see me?”

She flounders for a moment; then something blooms in her chest. It’s sudden and hot and white, like rage.

“You know what? I’m really getting sick of this.”

“Are you really now?”

“You were in that shop. You spoke to me. She saw it. You were in that shop.”

“How could I be there if I’m not real?”

“I don’t- I don’t know. I don’t care. You were there. I saw you. Someone spoke to you.”

“So what you’re telling me is, you’re going to believe your own first-hand observation of an experience, even if it defies the set of beliefs on which you rely?”

Julianne’s fingers flex against the steering wheel. For a moment, she doesn’t answer. Then: “You make it sound like I’m clinging to religion in the face of science.”

“Do I really?” He shifts in his seat, leans closer to her. “You should read Richard Feynman. He’s quite clear on this point: ‘observation is the judge of whether something is so or not... observation is the ultimate and final judge of the truth.’”


*****



The ride from Maybelle is horrendous.

Lloyd tries to stare out the window, to lose himself in the trees and exits signs as they flicker past, but she’s there, and he can’t get rid of her. She warps her arms around his shoulders, brushes her lips against his neck.

“What do you see?”

“It’s too bare for this time of year.”

“What?” Erica’s voice. He turns to face her; Julianne- not Julianne- shifts next to him, hands sliding down his body, distracting. Erica’s looking at him as if- As if- He has the strange feeling that she knows even better than Shea that something is shaking loose inside his mind.

“I was just-” He stops, processes the fact that he’s no longer fully in control of whether he’s thinking or speaking aloud, catalogues it for later reference. “It’s just the weather, is all. We’re having a late spring.”

“She has no idea,” says the Julianne whatever-she-is. Hallucination. “She has no clue.” She runs a hand fondly through his hair, looks at Erica for a moment. “Then again, she is a mother. Perhaps she’s just more sensitive to these things. I mean, mothers always seem to know.”

“What do you care whether or not the leaves are green?” Asks Shea, from the third row of seats.

“I guess I don’t.”

“You do care,” says Julianne, who is not Julianne, voice tight with her usual irrational distress.

“This isn’t right,” he says. To her, to Shea. He’s not sure.

“Lloyd,” Erica begins, but he cuts her off.

“Things happen in a predictable way. Things are supposed to be predictable.”

“It’s the weather, Lloyd,” says Erica.



*****



Julianne has settled into a sort of routine in the office. She has always been good at multitasking, and she has relegated Other Lloyd to the realm of Just One More Thing. Between the phone, the computer screen, the ever-proliferating files spawned by every case, Ray’s requests, and Charlie’s demands, there are moments where she ceases to notice entirely the strangeness of her companion. He speaks to her, but she does not speak to him. Sometimes, if she feels that his commentary warrants a response, she types one. She keeps a blank word document open for just such an occasion.

“Your friend is looking a little under the weather,” he says. He’s slouching against a file cabinet, and staring at Lloyd.

Lloyd does look under the weather, Julianne thinks. She types: leave him alone.

Other Lloyd saunters around behind her- he does that, saunters- reads what’s she typed, and chuckles.

“What do you think I’m going to do to him?”

*****

Lloyd has never been good at doing more than one thing at a time. He supposes that this is strange in someone with his intellect, but he has always had a tendency to focus on one single thing at a time to the absolute exclusion of everything else.

His current condition- he prefers the word condition to the word illness- makes his work extremely difficult. He can not tune her out. He stares at the file in front of him, and all he’s doing is staring. He’s not processing. He’s not thinking. He’s just staring.

The False Julianne is perched on the edge of the desk, talking at him. Continuously. She speaks about the case, offering distressingly intelligent commentary.

“You know,” she says with a sudden shift in tone, “this would all be much easier for you if you stopped trying to ignore me.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” he says, answering almost reflexively.

Ray looks up from his desk. “Who are you talking to, Lowery?”

Lloyd jumps a little in his seat. “I- I wasn’t- I was thinking out loud.”

“Yeah? Thinking what?”

“He’s a big, tough man, isn’t he?” False Julianne’s voice has become very, very throaty. She rises from the desk, circles behind Lloyd, puts her hands on his shoulders, leans down. “Think you could take him?”

Her lips are right against his ear. He pushes his chair back. “Nothing, it was nothing. I’ll be back in a minute.”



*****



He leans over the sink in the bathroom, breathing slow and steady. His False Julianne leans against the wall.

“Do I think I can take him,” he says. “You’re trying to make me angry.”

“Not angry, no. Do you think she loves him? Someone who can protect her?”

He takes a very deep breath, fingers tightening on the edge of the sink. When he speaks, it’s clipped and bitter. “I don’t know, why don’t you tell me?”

She laughs. “So you do care what she thinks. You know, I deeply admire the way you play to your strengths. You’ll never be much in a fight, but you can use your cleverness to protect yourself in a way men like that will never understand.” She pauses. “Maybe she can’t understand it, either.”

He wants to say “what the hell is wrong with you?” Instead, he splashes water on his face, straightens his back, and looks at her for a moment. When he speaks, his voice is very low, very quiet.

“You are a symptom of a disease. I am going to treat you the same way I would treat any other symptom of any other disease. I am going to observe you, and manage you as best I can, until the underlying condition is properly identified, and cured.”

Her face twists, almost a snarl. Then she takes a breath, and smiles. “Such clinical precision. What happens if there is no underlying condition, Doctor? What happens if I defy your rational model?”

“You won’t.”

“Observed reality doesn’t suggest that possibility, I suppose.”

“No, it doesn’t.” He walks past her, reaches for the door.

“‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,’” she says.

He looks at her. “Now you’re just being obvious.”



*****



The way his body bends over the files is probably a good metaphor for the way he bends himself to the task at hand. He starts at the first word of the first page of the first file, and begins reading. False Julianne paces next to his desk.

“You really are frustrating sometimes.” She’s in that mood. “I am trying- Why are you being so obtuse about this? I am trying to help you.”

He’s managed half a paragraph. He closes his eyes, shakes his head, opens his eyes again. He runs his finger along the lines of text as he reads.

“Listen to me.”

“Shit,” he mutters.

“What?” Ray, again.

“Nothing,” says Lloyd. “Lost my train of thought.”

“Listen to me,” she says, “it doesn’t matter where he began, who his parents were, what he wrote in high school. What you are reading is not important: your insights are not going to find this man. What’s more, you know it. This one will will go to Erica, or Ray. He’s obvious, he’s boring, everyone in the room understands well enough what he’s after and where he’s going.”

Lloyd closes his eyes, takes a deep, deliberate breath. “Okay,” he says. “Okay.” He’s made it halfway down the page.

“This is not what you need to be concentrating on right now.”

“What-” He stops, shakes his head. “I don’t-”

False Julianne leans over the desk. “You are wasting your efforts.”

“I can’t think.”

“Lloyd?” It’s Charlie, coming or going from his office, Lloyd isn’t sure which. “You okay?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine.”

“You’re looking in the wrong place,” says False Julianne. She says it with a kind of huff, a sort of resignation. When he looks over at her, she’s gone.

He goes back to the files. He’s got a song stuck in his head, a short melodic phrase on repeat, but he can work through that. He can handle that.



*****



Charlie spends ungodly amounts of time doing things that bare no obvious relationship to the given case. Lloyd knows that this is part and parcel of a position of administrative authority. The only reason that Ray, Shea and Erica get to kick in doors and knock skulls together with something approaching impunity, is that Charlie Duchamp metaphorically kicks and kisses just the right amount of bureaucratic ass via telephone.

He also files a positively obscene number of reports, forms and briefs.

“Time in the field is all he really wants,” says the now-familiar voice.

Lloyd snaps the file closed and pinches the bridge of his nose. “Jesus Christ, just five minutes is all I want.”

“Lloyd,” says Erica, passing his desk, “you need to get it together.”

“Yeah,” says Lloyd, “I know.”

“Time in the field,” says False Julianne, tugging pensively at the hem of her dress. “He’ll do anything for it. You have to wonder, don’t you, if he’ll ignore a wife like one he’s got to stay on a case, what else will he ignore? What else does he let fall by the wayside?”



*****

 

Julianne thinks that the phrase “under the weather” has fallen somewhat short of the mark.

Lloyd looks, even from across the room, brittle. Stretched taught. He jumps at everything, pushes files away and pulls them close in a way that seems more superstitious than engaged, and talks to himself. This last is not remarkable in and of itself, she’s seen him seemingly talk to nothing and no one in particular before, but he always brings the focus around to some unsuspecting listener. Often, it’s Julianne herself. Today, he flinches and evades when his comments garner response.

“He’s really not very good at this,” says Other Lloyd.

“At what?” Says Julianne, unthinking.

“Between you and Lowery, we’re gonna need some padded walls in here.” Julianne looks up. Ray is standing in front of her desk, frowning. “See if you can find anything on this VIN number, okay?”

“Sure, sure,” she says.
 
“I so hate that phrase,” says Other Lloyd, lip curling. “People do know that VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, don’t they?”
 


*****
 


Lloyd is shaking a little.

Julianne has long since abandoned the pretense of furtive glances. No one is watching her, so when she has a free moment, she watches him openly. He is shaking in a way that makes her think he must be bouncing one knee up and down, with the kind of nervous energy that often accompanies frenetic, myopic concentration. Every now and then, he’ll shake his head, as if there’s something buzzing by his ear. Sometimes he’ll sigh. It’s not a slow, longing kind of sigh. It’s a loud, quick breath.

It bothers her.
 


*****
 


Shea is holding forth. He’s on his feet in the middle of the room, articulating a theory about their runner. Julianne has always had a certain amount of appreciation for the way Shea expresses himself, and she has a professional obligation to pay attention to case-related events. But neither obligation nor admiration can keep her attention on Shea.

“I can’t believe,” says Other Lloyd, incredulous, exasperated, “really, I can’t believe that you have any fondness for him at all. He’s a complete mess. Honestly, look at him; he’s falling apart.”

Julianne wraps her arms around herself and doesn’t answer.

Charlie pushes himself away from Ray’s desk, where he’s been leaning, tells Shea to keep talking, and heads for the bathroom.

Lloyd snaps a file shut, slams it into the desk with enough force to make Julianne jump. “Does anyone else hear that goddamn music?”
 


*****
 


Everyone stops, and stares at him. The room spins.

For a moment, there is no sound. Then everything sounds underwater, then there is a rushing, echoing sound in his ears. He looks over the room. It looks wrong, somehow. Everyone looks different. Erica, hunkers at her desk, wary, bitter, alienated. Ray leans back in his seat, macho, standoffish, angry. Shea stands alone, closed-off, calculating. Julianne clings to herself, frozen, terror-stricken. Each looks impossibly distant from the others, fractured and fractious.

Then the room spins again; he hears nothing, then muffled ambient noises, then an echoing rush. Erica’s face is pinched with confusion. Shea is wide-eyed and open mouthed, the question “what is up with you?” etched on his features. Julianne is still hugging herself. Her brows are knit, lips slightly parted; it looks like worry. Ray seems, if not unsurprised, at least not shocked. Charlie- Lloyd hadn’t noticed Charlie before. Or Charlie hadn’t been there before.

“He’s the most important person in the room,” says False Julianne, walking behind the stalled Marshal, “isn’t he? You’d all be so different without him.”

“What music, Lloyd?” Asks Charlie.

“Didn’t anybody else hear that?”

“He certainly didn’t,” observes False Julianne.

“Lloyd,” says Charlie, even-toned, “if you’re having some kind of problem-”

“If I’m having some kind of problem? Yeah, I’m having a bad day.” He stands up as he speaks. “But you know what? I don’t want to talk about me, Charlie. I want to talk about you.”

False Julianne beams at him from over Charlie’s shoulder.

“About me?”

“Yes. You. Have you been drinking a lot of coffee today? That’s, what, your sixth trip to the bathroom? Have you had to piss every time? Because that is one of the symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure. But you know what, I’ll bet you know that. I’ll bet you know every symptom like the back of your hand. Because if I were your doctor, Charlie, that is the first thing I would have done. I would have sat you down and told you every symptom. And right after that, I would have told you that if you didn’t do something, if you didn’t choose some course of treatment and stick with it, you would die.”

“You’re not my doctor, Lloyd.”

“I’m a doctor, Charlie. And I’m not stupid.” Lloyd moves away from his desk, stalks towards Charlie’s office. “What are you on? An ACE inhibitor? Which one, Enalapril? Captopril? Lisinopril?”

“Lloyd,” says Charlie, a warning tone.

Lloyd ingores him, circles Charlie’s desk. “Maybe an aldosterone receptor antagonist for good measure? See, I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with you, but I can make some good guesses. Where do you keep them?”

“Lloyd-”

“You’re right handed, so I’ll start with the top right-hand drawer. And would you look at that, it’s like I’m a genius or something. See, here’s the thing. When you get a prescription filled, the date is on the bottle. So I know how many days ago you got this. And the dosage is on the bottle, too, so I know how many of these pills you have to take and how many times a day. So then I can do this,” Lloyd opens the bottle, dumps the contents on Charlie’s desk, “and count how many you’ve missed.”

“That’s enough, Lowery.” Ray rises from his seat, shoulders slightly hunched.

“No, Ray,” says Charlie, “it’s okay.” There is a long pause. Ray looks between Lloyd, standing at Charlie’s desk, empty orange container in hand, and Charlie, standing calmly near Shea. “It’s okay,” says Charlie, again. “Lloyd, I can take care of myself.”

“I know you can,” says Lloyd. He places the little orange bottle gently on the desk. “I know you can. But- Charlie, no one wants this team, except the people who are on it. I just- You are the only thing standing between guys like Wendell and- And- You take care of us, you know that, right?”

“Lloyd-”

“I’m saying, you take care of us. We should take care of you. And I don’t want you to die.”

“Okay,” says Charlie. “I hear you.”

“So take your damn pills.”

“Okay.” Charlie nods. “I hear you. You need a minute?”

Lloyd steps back from the desk, shakes his head. “No,” he says.

“Good,” says Charlie. “Get out here and sit your ass back down.”

“Okay,” says Lloyd. And he does.
 

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
allysue08
Jun. 6th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
I adore this story. But, of course, you know that.

I love the pace. And the tone. And the mystery. And all the emotions and feelings.

It keeps me captivated.

Thank you for letting me read it so many times. :D haha
claro3
Jun. 6th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC)

Thank you bb! You can read it as many times as you want!

ladycat713
Jun. 6th, 2011 06:50 am (UTC)
Poor Lloyd, he really seems to have gotten the worst of this situation.

Update soon pretty please.

My mother has congestive heart failure and one of the things she takes (besides 3 cholesteral pills that are ridiculously expensive) is lasix which keeps fluid from building up. The side effect is that she pees all of the time . I keep telling her not to take it before a long drive but to bring it and take it in the middle because around here you can get caught short with no access to a public bathroom.
claro3
Jun. 6th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)

I'm in only in one class for Summer Session I, so I should be better with updates!

No, Lloyd's not handling this very well, is he?

missmoonwillow
Jun. 6th, 2011 03:57 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, in love with this story. even if I've never watched BSG, but love it so.
I can't wait for the update, gotta love the false Julianne.... Just a little too much.
claro3
Jun. 6th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it. :D
jonieozudi
Oct. 31st, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Good dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you on your information.

arc_green
Jun. 30th, 2012 03:12 am (UTC)
Bit late
I would love to see more of this! (I know I'm a bit late on finding it haha)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )