This story began life simply as "the ill-advised crossover," and immediately proceeded to TOTALLY TAKE OVER MY BRAIN. It's something of a first for me-- I wrote the whole thing in only seventeen days. At last count, it makes up exactly 140 pages in Word. That's probably the fastest I've ever written anything in my life.
I choose to think it was fate.
Over the course of those seventeen days, the folks on LJ were fabulous with the feedback and encouragement; thanks particularly to Helleboredoll, Oninobara, and especially Maryavatar, who made me the lovely icon at the bottom of this page. Also, partial credit goes to Viridian5 for inspiring me, or at least for humoring me when I first came up with the idea. Love.
Inspirational music for this fic includes The Damage by Tapping the Vein and Creature by Moist.
The Due South characters and situations belong to Alliance and whoever else; the Tru Calling characters belong to FOX et cetera. I'm not entirely certain where TC is set, but the general consensus appears to be Boston, so that's what I went with, even if it's no Boston I've ever seen.
by Maya Tawi
"I'd walk the water to get back to you
And where I was complete
We found you scattered by the highway side
Too soon to be released
Gathered the pieces up
And cleaned the places where you were undone
And washed the wreckage out
Unfinished, all the thoughts that we'd begun"
--Moist, "Leave It Alone"YESTERDAY
"Asshole!" Harrison Davies yelled after the businessman's departing back. The man's only response was an obscene gesture.
Harrison sat down heavily on the apartment steps behind him, ignoring a young brunette woman's irritated look as she stepped around him to the door. He jingled his paper cup and peered desolately into its depths. Six bucks and change.
This kindness of strangers thing was really overrated.
He leaned his head back against the cool brick and closed his eyes. He was going to kill Joe. If he ever saw the guy again. This was supposed to be a simple goddamn deal; pick up the package for Paulie, in exchange for wiping out his debt, which was a pretty sizeable one, and well worth the chance to wipe it all out in one go. His own car was in the shop again, so Joe had agreed to drive up to Chicago with him... and then had promptly ditched him at the first sign of trouble, leaving Harrison without any money or transportation, running through dark alleys in what was probably not the best neighborhood and stepping in things he really didn't want to think about.
Now he just wanted to go home, grovel a little at Paulie's feet, and maybe give that whole "straight and narrow" thing another shot. The siren song of the Want Ads had never rung so loud in his head as it had the night before.
Unfortunately, the way things were going, if he kept begging for change he wouldn't even get as far as the Illinois border.
Harrison didn't necessarily believe in fate; after all, his own sister thwarted it on a regular basis. At that very moment, however, the man stepping out of the convenience store across the street looked pretty much like a godsend.
He watched with narrowed eyes as the guy-- tall, good-looking, with that wide-eyed, fish-out-of-water look characteristic of tourists everywhere-- stopped and held the door open for an old lady with a cane. The man leaned in politely, cocking his head with an almost deferent air as he spoke.
Oh yeah. Definite mark.
Harrison slid slowly to his feet, watching the mark out of the corner of his eye as he wiped his hands on his jeans. He tucked the six-and-change into his pocket first; no sense in wasting good cash, and that represented a whole morning's work.
Then, as the mark waved a cheerful good-bye and started off down the sidewalk, he tossed the empty paper cup over his shoulder and slipped into the crowd.
His fingers were already tingling.
Benton Fraser reached the appointed street corner and looked around, to no avail. Ray was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was early-- he glanced at the sun-- but no; eleven-thirty exactly. Fraser wasn't early. Ray was just late.
He sighed and settled in to wait, unable to ignore the worry gnawing at his stomach. Ray had gone off to meet an informant, claiming that the man in question was "skittish" and would not respond well to Benton's presence. Personally, Benton had found that he actually tended to be a calming influence on Ray's informants, who did not always react well to being smacked in the head, though there were always exceptions. But Ray had been in something of a mood that morning, so he had prudently refrained from saying so, and had responded only by saying that he had errands to run anyway, and would meet his partner after the interview.
And Ray was late.
Not that Ray Kowalski was well-known for his punctuality. But something might have gone wrong.
Benton looked at the sun again; it had ducked behind the patchy cloud cover, but he could tell that only five minutes had passed. Still well within the bounds of reason.
He would wait five more minutes, he decided, and then he would look for Ray.
Three minutes later, Benton was starting to rethink the whole five-minutes plan. He wasn't getting antsy exactly; there was just a sense of something wrong in the air, something not quite right....
No. Not something. Someone.
Somebody was watching him.
Benton gave no outward signs of this realization, but let his eyes lose focus as he attuned his hearing, listening to the footsteps coming and going as people pushed past him on the sidewalk. There-- someone was moving directly towards him, a deliberately casual gait that set his nerves on edge. If Ray's meet had gone wrong somehow, perhaps they had realized he had a partner nearby. Perhaps they were coming to kidnap him as well. It wouldn't be the first time.
The truth turned out to be far more prosaic. When the young man jostled him with a muttered apology, and his slim fingers slipped deftly into Benton's back pocket, Benton allowed himself one brief moment of relief before turning to apprehend the suspect.
One moment Harrison's fingers had just barely grazed what felt like a money clip (and who still carried money clips, anyway?), and the next, his face was being pressed into the brick wall, with his wrists twisted up behind him and pain shooting through his shoulders.
Okay, so maybe he'd misjudged the guy.
"Mmph," Harrison said into the wall, twisting his wrists experimentally. The guy's grip was like a vise.
"Terribly sorry," the guy said from somewhere above and behind him, "but I'm afraid you're wasting your time. I only carry Canadian money."
Harrison managed to extract his face from the wall and turn it to the side, enough to talk at least. "Don't suppose you'd be willing to let bygones be bygones, then?" he said hopefully.
The grip on his wrists didn't relax. "I'm sorry, but as a liaison with the Chicago Police Department, it is my duty to take you into the station for processing."
"You're a freaking cop?" Harrison demanded, incredulous. Holy crap, he thought, I just tried to pickpocket a cop? He really was slipping.
Old instinctive panic rose in his gut, and he pushed it back down with effort. At least he didn't have Paulie's package on him-- a pickpocketing charge was bad enough, he really didn't want to get busted for holding... whatever. He didn't know the details, but he figured it was probably something illegal. No one sent a guy all the way to Chicago for an in-person pickup for something that could be sent by FedEx.
"Actually, I'm not a police officer per se," the guy was saying. "I am Constable Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I do work with the CPD, however."
Okay, that was just weird. "You're a Mountie?" Harrison asked the wall. "How does that work?"
"Well," the guy-- Fraser-- began, "I first came to Chicago on the trail of--"
"Canadian, huh?" Harrison interrupted, sensing the beginning of a long story. His shoulders were seriously starting to ache. "You like hockey?"
"Pardon?" And Fraser's fingers slipped, just a little, just enough--
Harrison wrenched one wrist out from behind him, breaking Fraser's grip, and pushed off the wall as hard as he could. Behind him, the Mountie stumbled, and he brought his boot down hard on the guy's instep, and that did it-- he was free, he was away, he was running....
He made it about three steps before another hand grabbed his elbow and swung him back around into the wall again.
Harrison was pretty sure he said something like "Ow" as he made his re-acquaintance with the brick. Maybe something a little less manly. That one was gonna leave a mark.
This time the voice was nasal, rough-edged, and steeped in Chicago. "Going somewhere?"
"Ray," the Mountie said, sounding disapproving and barely winded. Harrison felt a wild burst of hope, like maybe the guy was gonna intervene on his behalf or something-- not very likely, but hey, wild hope was wild hope-- and then he continued, "You're late."
"Yeah, well," Ray said, and Harrison felt the all-too-familiar cold of handcuffs around his wrists, heard the accompanying snick. "Dobbs ain't too friendly nowadays. So who's your pal? Been workin' on that Canadian charm?"
Harrison closed his eyes and beat his forehead lightly against the wall.
"Hey!" A light slap across the back of his head. "Anyone's gonna be beating heads around here, it's gonna be me. Understand?"
Harrison made a desperate, last-ditch effort. "Listen, this is all just a big misunderstanding. I'm sure we can work something out--"
"This man," Fraser said gravely, "tried to pick my pocket."
"Wow," Ray said. "Talk about an exercise in fatality."
"I'll be the judge of that, Fraser."
Harrison gulped. "I don't suppose you'd believe I was just copping a feel?" he tried.
Ray slammed him against the wall again, and he saw stars. "You think that's any better? No one cops a feel off the Mountie, numbnut."
"Ray!" The Mountie in question sounded scandalized.
"Shut up, Fraser."
His penknife was in his pocket. His front pocket. If he could just get to it, he could pick the lock on the cuffs, but there was no graceful way to--
And then it didn't matter, because Ray was patting him down like the pro he probably was-- this had to be the one Fraser was liaising with. This guy was definitely a cop. Harrison would've clocked the guy at two hundred paces, had he not been running for his life-- well, his liberty, anyway-- at the time.
Inevitably, Ray found the penknife. "Concealed weapon," he snorted. "You're batting a thousand, kid."
At least, Harrison thought gloomily, as Ray and Fraser each took one of his elbows and started dragging him away, things couldn't get any worse.
That last thought was probably a mistake.
The car was amazing.
"Wow," Harrison said, gaping at the shiny black GTO and not bothering to hide his drool. "Wow. Is that a-- it's a '67, right?"
The cop, Ray-- the Mountie had introduced him as "my partner, Ray Vecchio"-- gave a snort that could have been either annoyance or approval. "Rebuilt this baby from the ground up," he said, making Harrison suspect the latter. "Me an' my dad."
"It's beautiful," Harrison said. He wanted to run his hands over the hood, but the handcuffs had other ideas.
"Glad you like," Vecchio said, and yanked the door open. "Wanna inspect the backseat?"
It was not, Harrison understood, a request.
He slid in with a sigh, and found himself nose-to-nose with a large white dog. "What the--" he began, jerking away.
"Dief," Fraser said, opening the passenger side door. "Down."
"He's not listening," Harrison reported, trying not to panic. He squirmed away on the seat, and the dog followed, long pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. "He's-- oh, gross-- I think he's trying to make out with me--"
"See, Fraser?" Vecchio slid into the driver's seat and slammed his door. "Told you the dog's a perv."
"Wolf, Ray," Fraser said sternly, and Harrison squeaked, "Wolf?"
Dief barked once in agreement, then returned his slavish attentions to Harrison's jaw.
"Terribly sorry," Fraser said, not sounding very sorry at all. Harrison scowled at the back of his head-- the Mountie sounded like he was trying not to laugh. "I'm afraid Diefenbaker is rather partial to blonds."
Harrison eyed his admirer dubiously. "I thought dogs were colorblind."
"Kid's got a point," Vecchio said, turning the key in the ignition. The GTO sprang to life with a deep, throaty purr.
"He's a half-wolf, actually," Fraser said again.
"And what, wolves aren't colorblind?" Having successfully sampled every square inch of skin on Harrison's face, Diefenbaker settled down on the backseat with a huff, fixing him with an avid stare. Harrison wiped his face on his shoulders and glowered back. "Back off, you."
Fraser opened his mouth, then froze. His expression in the rearview mirror was not unlike that of a deer in headlights.
In the driver's seat, Vecchio snickered. "Oh man, Frase, don't tell me he stumped you. You gonna take that lying down?"
"Nonsense, Ray, I was simply attempting to--"
"Hey," Harrison interrupted, staring out the window as they drove past a dead-end alley. "Hey, what's that?"
Ray didn't even look at him. "Nice try, kid."
"I'm serious," Harrison insisted, though his brain was already busy working the angles, figuring out how he could use this. "It looked like a couple guys having a fight, or something."
The shrill chirping of a cell phone split the air, and Ray fumbled with it one-handed until he managed to wedge it under his chin. "Vecchio," he snapped.
Harrison almost hated to admit it, but he admired the guy's style. With his jeans, sunglasses, and spiky blond hair, Vecchio looked more like a punk refugee than a cop, and yet he was a cop, every inch of him. He crackled with bad attitude and cynicism, and he hadn't bought any of the bullshit Harrison had been trying very hard to sell.
He looked, in fact, like someone who would like very much to punch Harrison in the face.
That shouldn't turn him on, Harrison knew. Not a cop. Not a guy. Not this guy.
"No," Vecchio was saying. "No, we-- what? You gotta be kidding me. No-- no, Frannie, I am not questioning your professionalism. Know why? 'Cause you don't got any."
He snapped the phone shut and tossed it at Fraser's head. Fraser caught it deftly, and Ray spun the car into a U-turn.
"Hey!" Harrison yelped as he was thrown across the backseat, and received a mouthful of white fur for his trouble. Diefenbaker seemed to take it as an invitation, and started slurping him again. "Shit! Get off me!"
"Shut up," Ray snapped, and cut across three lanes of traffic, careening into the alley where Harrison had seen the fight.
"Ray?" Fraser questioned.
"Garvey," Ray said. His words were clipped, terse. "Frannie says he's been spotted in the area. Dobbs said he's lookin' for a scapegoat." He hit the brakes, and the GTO skidded to a stop, leaving what felt like several feet of rubber on the asphalt.
"Ah," Fraser said, so presumably it meant something to him; Harrison couldn't make heads or tails of the information. "You suspect that young Mr.--"
He paused, obviously expecting Harrison to fill in his name. Harrison just slouched down in the backseat, the picture of insolence, and spat white fur out of his mouth. If there was some way to wiggle out of this thing, skip custody without being charged, he intended to take it. These two weren't getting his name until they had his fingerprints, at which point even the most cursory check would turn up a stack of mug shots and an embarrassingly impressive rap sheet.
"Well," Fraser said, after the silence stretched just a beat too long, "anyway, you suspect that the fight our young friend claimed to see might have been between Mr. Garvey and his chosen scapegoat."
Ray was already halfway out of the car. Over his shoulder, he asked, "I said all that?"
"That was the general gist I received, Ray, yes."
"Wordy fucker, aren't I?" And a flash of a quick, sharp grin.
Whatever response Fraser might have made was cut off by the sound of both front doors slamming in unison. Harrison twisted around in his seat, trying to follow their progress and hoping they wouldn't pay attention to him, but it turned out he shouldn't have worried. The first thing Ray did was yank open the backseat door and grab at Harrison's wrists. He heard a click, and then his left wrist was twisted around with frightening efficiency, and the empty loop of the cuffs was snapped around the door handle.
"Break my car," Ray said, "I'll break your head."
Then he vanished.
Harrison gaped after him, barely believing his luck. His right hand was free, and all he needed was something to pick the lock with--
A warm, wet whuff in his right ear interrupted his train of thought.
Harrison turned his head slowly, and found himself staring into the pale blue eyes of Diefenbaker.
Ray Kowalski was not having a good day.
It was a hangover day, a no-clean-socks day, a broken-coffee-machine day. It was the kind of day when he wondered if maybe a nuclear winter wouldn't be a nice change of pace.
Those days were happening more and more lately, though he was trying not to look too closely at why. It just built up over time, little by little, like cigarettes, until you'd gone from half a pack to two a day, and trying to rationalize it to yourself, like it's okay, it's just the stress....
God, he wanted a smoke. God damn Vecchio and his oh-so-pristine lungs.
Instead, Ray slipped the toothpick out of his mouth-- ingrained childhood lessons of "if you trip with that in your mouth you'll choke" taking hold-- and slipped his gun from his shoulder, pressing his back against the brick wall and squinting into the alley.
Definite sounds of a scuffle. The kid had been right.
The kid... just another item on Ray's long list of grievances. Skinny, blond, and brash, Fraser's pickpocket was just the type to be more trouble than he was worth, and Ray did not have time for that today. Not with a dead dealer in the morgue, Garvey still at large, and the threat of a gang war hanging over their heads. Usually he'd have been tempted to give the kid a metaphorical spanking and send him on his way, but-- he didn't know but what. Something about him just pissed Ray off.
Even if he'd held his own with Fraser, in the car. And even if Dief liked him.
Ray glanced into the alley again, then caught Fraser's eye and nodded. Fraser primly placed a thumb to the side of his nose, and Ray hid a grin.
Then he stepped into the alley and yelled, "Chicago PD!"
He'd expected them to be armed. He'd even half-expected the gunshot.
But when it came right down to it, he'd always thought the bullet would be aimed at him.
Keeping a wary eye on the wolf, Harrison edged toward the front seat, reaching out as far as he could with his left wrist still cuffed to the door. Diefenbaker watched with interest, but made no move to stop him. Yet. There was a disturbing intelligence in those blue eyes, and Harrison couldn't shake the nagging suspicion that the wolf was just waiting for the right time.
He could just barely reach the glove compartment. He rifled through it one-handed, discarding maps, manuals, and the other assorted crap glove compartments tend to collect, and then his hand closed over something papery that crackled under his fingers, and Diefenbaker's head shot up.
But the wolf didn't look particularly predatory. His expression was almost... expectant?
Then Harrison looked at the something-papery, and immediately he understood.
It was a Dunkin Donuts bag.
"Here ya go," Harrison said, clumsily unwrapping the package with one hand. "Just for you, right? You just ignore me, and everyone's happy, right?"
The doughnut was jelly-filled. He took a big bite before handing it over, which Diefenbaker didn't look too happy about, but Harrison hadn't had any breakfast (or dinner, come to think of it), and anyway, the wolf didn't complain.
"Okay," he mumbled through a mouthful of jelly doughnut, as Diefenbaker started chowing down. "There's gotta be something here, there has to."
But the GTO was depressingly free of pick-like implements. Harrison thought about his penknife-- but no, Vecchio had dropped that into his pocket, he wouldn't have left it in the car. There was a collection of old toothpicks in the armrest compartment, but they were all wooden and likely to snap.
Then, there-- on the floor in front of the passenger seat, a glint of metal. Harrison stretched, but it was halfway under the seat, and he couldn't quite contort his limbs enough to reach it. He withdrew his arm and reached his leg into the front seat instead, trying to drag the thing towards him, but he couldn't get a good angle.
Then he muttered, "Idiot," and retreated fully into the backseat. Diefenbaker was licking powdered sugar from his muzzle and watching Harrison with a distinctly hopeful expression.
"Sorry," Harrison said, "fresh out." He crouched down on the floor in front of the backseat and peered underneath the passenger seat. He could just barely fit his arm under there, but finally his fingers did close over what felt like a stack of papers. And where there was a stack, there was--
Yes. Some kind of official-looking report, probably the Mountie's. And held together with a large, sturdy paper clip.
"I win," Harrison muttered, and set to work on the handcuffs.
Nerves focused him, cleared his mind, and in less than a minute, the lock was picked.
He cast Diefenbaker another wary look, but the wolf seemed uninterested in Harrison's escape, simply resting his head on his paws and closing his eyes halfway.
"Good boy," Harrison said fervently, in an undertone. He eased the door open. "Good boy, nice boy, how 'bout that doughnut, huh? You like me, don't you? So you're just gonna keep quiet and not say a word, right?"
As he spoke, he slid backwards out of the GTO, never taking his eyes from the wolf's face. One boot hit the pavement, then the other, and Harrison closed the door as quietly as he could and sent an anxious glance over his shoulder. The cop and the Mountie weren't watching him.
Harrison froze again.
Someone else was.
It had been dark before; he hadn't gotten a good look at the guy's face. But apparently the guy had seen Harrison's. And the voice, Harrison did recognize his voice.
"Motherfucker!" the guy yelled.
And he definitely recognized the gun.
After that, everything seemed to happen at once.
Harrison turned to run, and found the Mountie between him and the street.
Vecchio barked out something that sounded a lot like Drop it.
The Mountie turned as Harrison ducked past, grabbing his arm. Harrison stared at him for a moment, heart thudding in his throat, and then Fraser gripped him by the shoulders and shoved.
Then, only then, did Harrison hear the gunshot.
In the last moments of his life, Benton Fraser thought he saw Ray, bending low over him, saying something-- no, yelling something. Ray looked furious. Benton tried to say something, to defend himself, because he hated it when Ray was mad at him; but he couldn't quite make his lips form the words.
And then he was standing in the middle of a vast snowy plain, the white stretching on for miles and miles in each direction, the cold wind slicing at his face.
He was not, however, alone.
Seated at his feet, Robert Fraser looked up from the crackling campfire in front of him.
"Son?" he asked, after a pause.
Benton looked down at himself, and was unsurprised to see no bullet wound.
"It would appear so," he said.
Robert stood slowly.
"Benton," he said, and frowned. "What in the bloody red blazes are you doing here?"
This was past "bad day". This was way past sucking.
This was sucking until he was numb from the suck.
This was Fraser, lying on the asphalt, blood bubbling out of his chest, soaking through his flannel shirt even as he gave Ray that stupid fucking stare, that confused, deer-in-the-headlights look, all, Oh dear, I seem to be shot--
This was his partner, dying in front of him.
And that was the scumbag that shot him. That was a gun butt to the temple, because his cuffs were already on the blond kid and he wasn't taking any chances. That was Garvey unconscious at his feet, gun falling from his suddenly limp hand. That was Garvey's victim, limping and unarmed, and Ray wasted a precious few seconds wavering, not sure what to do with the guy, until finally he aimed the gun at him, growled wordlessly, and jerked the muzzle in the international symbol of Sit Your Ass Fucking Down.
That was Garvey's victim, slowly sliding to the ground, his eyes fixed on Ray's gun. Likely to run the first chance he got.
Ray didn't care. He had bigger fish to fry.
Ambulance, he needed an ambulance, he needed his cell phone-- the cell he'd thrown at Fraser in the car, where the hell was it, and he squeezed his eyes shut as he shoved his hands in Fraser's jeans pockets, unable to look at... what he couldn't think of as....
He found the phone, and called in an officer down. He didn't recognize his own voice.
He turned slowly, too slowly, and stood, feeling like he was underwater....
And. That. That was the blond kid, the goddamn pain in Ray's ass. The one Garvey had called motherfucker. The one Garvey had shot at.
The one Fraser had pushed out of the way.
He was staring down at Fraser, white as a proverbial fucking sheet, looking like he could barely remember his own name, never mind the whole running away thing. There was, Ray noted distantly, blood on his shirt. It was Fraser's blood.
Ray's feet were moving before he even formed the conscious thought. The kid saw him coming, looked fucking terrified, but he still didn't bother to turn and run.
Didn't bother. Couldn't manage. Whichever.
The rage was good, the rage was welcome, it was something to feel besides the numbness, and Ray let it swallow him up: saw himself as though from a distance, grabbing the kid by the front of his shirt, hauling him up, slamming him against the brick wall, pulling his fist back, yelling in the kid's face....
The kid was yelling something back, something he couldn't quite understand. Something that didn't make any sense.
But Ray's ears heard the words, and they carried them to his brain, just another ear anecdote except there'd never be another, Fraser was fucking done with the ear anecdotes-- and then his brain stuttered to life, taking in the words, studying them, turning them over in its little brain hands-- and finally, finally, finally Ray heard what the kid was saying. Over and over, like a mantra. Like it meant something. Like it was true.
I can fix this.
I can bring him back.
"You found a way to get inside my head
And, yes, I'm gonna know better than to sleep with you
But at the same time I got this need to feel you"
--Tapping the Vein, "Falling In"
FIVE HOURS LATER
"C'mon, Tru, pick up. Pick up, pick up, please pick up...."
Harrison paced back and forth as he muttered, nervous fingers playing at his lips, his neck, his hair, his other hand clasping the cell phone to his ear. He shot a nervous glance out of the corner of his eye, and Vecchio hadn't moved an inch-- still slumped over on the sofa, his elbows on his knees, watching Harrison with hooded, unblinking eyes.
"She's not answering," he explained, and winced at the crack in his voice. "I'll, uh." He cleared his throat. "I'll leave a message."
Vecchio didn't move.
"Look, it'll be okay. I mean, it's what, five in the afternoon--" Harrison paused, calculating. "Well, six for her, but that's still early, and as long as she doesn't go to sleep it'll be-- Tru!" he interrupted himself, as the beep sounded. "Tru, I know this sounds crazy, but I need your help, I need you to get to Chicago, like, now, okay?"
He hesitated and rubbed the back of his neck, not wanting to speak too explicitly to a recording. Finally he just said, "It's your, uh, your extracurricular activities, okay-- just, please get here, please, and I will owe you so much, I promise. And Tru?" He lowered his voice. "However long it takes-- please-- don't fall asleep."
Slowly Harrison lowered the phone from his ear. He stared at it for a few seconds, strangely reluctant to break the connection-- like if he hung up now, he'd never get to talk to Tru again.
But that was ridiculous.
He snorted to himself and, with a shaking but determined finger, pressed the button to break the connection.
"She'll come," he said, staring at the phone. He cleared his throat again. "She has to."
No answer, but Harrison heard the squeak of the couch springs, saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Finally Vecchio stood, his movements slow and deliberate.
Harrison's breath caught in his throat. There was something about the man's utter stillness that was just... wrong. Even in the short time he'd known Vecchio, the man had sparked with life-- cranky and irritable, sure, but alive with it, almost vibrating on a molecular level. But ever since the Mountie's death, a kind of black calm had settled over him, and it made Harrison nervous.
He knew enough to recognize the calm before the storm. He just didn't want to be there when Vecchio blew.
But if Tru didn't get off her ass soon and check her goddamn messages, he might not have a choice.
Harrison swallowed, then slipped the phone in his pocket and turned to face the cop. Vecchio was staring at him, standing a little too close for polite company. Too close even for some impolite company.
He felt his pulse speed up, felt his breathing get shallow. Just when Harrison was about to punch something, anything, to break the tension-- Vecchio, the wall, himself-- Vecchio said softly, "You really believe this."
Harrison scoffed, trying to keep his cool. "I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't. Trust me, the last thing I wanna do right now is dick you around."
Vecchio didn't say anything. Harrison held his gaze, remembering the way the man had barely reacted when he'd told him about Tru. The ambulance had come and gone, useless except to transport the body, and a lot of grim-looking cops were standing around the chalk outline and muttering to each other. Vecchio had just pulled him aside with a terse, "Talk."
So Harrison did. And when he expected disbelief and anger, Vecchio'd just stared at him, looking like he was trying to remember how gravity worked or something. Then he'd nodded once, jerkily, and just turned and walked to the car.
Harrison had gaped after him, unmoving, and Vecchio had turned back to him and said in this awful, leaden voice, "Come on. I gotta report this."
At the police station, everyone was too quiet; Harrison figured they'd heard. He'd caught sight of an attractive brunette woman with red-rimmed eyes, ducking into the bathroom, and then Vecchio had turned him over to a tall, somber black man and told him to book Harrison for pickpocketing.
He'd figured that was it, then: Vecchio didn't believe him, had just been humoring him before, or still too stunned to react. And now it was over, and Fraser would stay dead. He got his phone call, but Tru hadn't been answering then either; and then the black cop printed him, did the mug shot thing, and led him down the stairs to the holding cells, all without saying more than three words to him.
Harrison hesitated, just inside the cell, and then said, "Listen, uh. For what it's worth, man, I'm sorry. He was-- he seemed like a good guy."
"He was," the cop said flatly.
Then the door slammed shut, and he turned and walked back up the stairs.
Harrison had cooled his heels in the cell for a few hours, feeling miserable and beaten and not a little afraid. It was his fault, after all-- Garvey had been Paulie's connection, one side of the deal that had gone so spectacularly bad the previous night. He'd been shooting at Harrison, not Fraser. And eventually, Vecchio would tell the other cops, and he couldn't shake the nagging suspicion that he would be in deep shit. Cops didn't take too well to cop-killers, even Mountie-killers. Even accidental ones. Hell, he'd half-expected Vecchio to kill him right there at the scene-- slamming Harrison against the wall, pulling back his fist, the fist that still held his gun though he didn't seem to realize it....
And then, just like that, the rage had been gone, replaced by that deadly black calm.
Harrison winced now and rubbed the back of his head, feeling the knot where it had impacted with the brick, remembering the fear. After all that, Vecchio was the last person he'd expected to walk into the holding cell. But there he was, tossing Harrison his leather jacket and saying simply, "Come on, let's go."
And now they were in Vecchio's apartment, and Vecchio was inches from his face, giving him that look, that dangerous predator's look, and Harrison swallowed again and tried to remember all the reasons why it would be a bad idea to be turned on right now.
It was natural, he told himself. A natural reaction to seeing someone die. A reaffirmation-of-life thing, or some such bullshit.
Yeah, he told himself. And if he did that enough, he might even believe it.
Finally, just when Harrison thought he might have a stroke, Vecchio nodded and said softly, "Good."
Then he said, "I gotta--" and broke off, moving slowly towards the refrigerator. No-- not the refrigerator, the freezer, and the half-empty vodka bottle inside.
"I gotta be alone now," Vecchio said, not looking at Harrison. "Come get me when she calls."
He turned and walked into what Harrison assumed was his bedroom without a backward glance.
The worst thing, Ray decided some time later, was that he hadn't had a chance to tell him.
Almost two years, working side by side, back to back, and (on one memorable occasion in a sinking freighter) mouth to mouth, and Ray never had a chance. Never found the time to open his mouth and just say-- "Fraser, I'm in love with you, you're a huge freak and I've been in love with you since the damn dreamcatcher, and every time you throw yourself off a building or in front of a speeding car I want to kill you myself."
Not such a long speech, really. You'd think he'd have managed to fit it in somewhere.
But he didn't. Because guys didn't. Because Ray Kowalski didn't, not after he'd learned the hard way that there were people he wasn't supposed to have, and it never worked out in the end. Unattainable Stella, the Gold Coast girl. Unattainable Fraser, the ice-cold Mountie.
And he didn't because Ray Vecchio didn't, because that was just one more thing Ray Vecchio didn't do-- didn't smoke, didn't drive a halfway decent fucking car. Didn't lust after other men. Didn't fall for them.
Didn't stand helplessly by and watch his partner die, but Ray had managed that anyway.
He raised his head and squinted at the vodka bottle. Almost gone. He shouldn't be drinking anyway. He had to stay sober, stay sharp, for... what?
No. The only thing he had to do was get drunk and wait for Harrison Davies' sister to waltz in and turn back time.
Ray snorted softly and drained the last of the vodka. Harrison Davies' sister. It was a ridiculous story. He didn't even believe it.
So he really didn't know why he'd listened. Why he hadn't punched the kid's lights out. Why he'd paid the kid's bail instead.
Except that it was such a Fraser kind of thing, something utterly ridiculous and implausible, like hypnosis or alien abduction or voodoo dolls or lip-reading wolves that were florists, and for one horrible moment the knowledge that it could have been Fraser saying those insane words caught in his throat and wouldn't let go, like fingers digging into his Adam's apple, and he thought he might just lose it right there.
But he didn't. He pushed it back, saving it for later.
Later, when he'd need it.
Ray rolled over and buried his face in the pillow with a muffled groan. Harrison Davies... Ray wouldn't trust him as far as he could throw him. Not even that far; the kid wasn't exactly built. With his ratty, rebellious blond hair, his dusting of facial scruff and that beat-up leather jacket, he came off as just a little too slick for his own good, coated in a thin layer of sleaze and no better than a two-bit con; but there was something almost feline about the way he walked, the way his eyes sized up every detail of a situation in an instant, even in the wry expressions that flitted across his face, giving his easy smiles a sarcastic edge. Something that hinted at the possibility of danger.
No, Ray knew Harrison Davies was trouble even before he got Fraser shot. It was a thing, an instinct. Like a warning label: May Be Hazardous To Your Health.
Good things came with warning labels. Like cigarettes.
God, he wanted a smoke.
He wondered vaguely what Harrison was doing, or if he was even still there. There was nothing stopping the kid from just walking out. And maybe, in a way, he wanted that to happen-- wanted the whole thing to be some kind of sick joke, wanted Fraser to stay dead just so he didn't have to live with the hope. Because he didn't believe-- but he did hope, and that was even worse.
Welsh had tried to talk to him earlier, tried to sit him down and have a talk about fucking feelings, and any other time Ray would've laughed his ass off because it was fucking Welsh. But this time he just stood there and nodded in all the right places and just took it, and in retrospect he realized that if he'd been trying to make Welsh worry about him, he couldn't have done it any better on purpose. A quiescent Ray Kowalski was the one thing that got Welsh's suspicions going every time.
And then, before he could make his escape, Welsh had reached out and stopped him with a hand on his arm.
"Detective," Welsh said, while Ray's skin crawled from the human contact. It was too much, too raw, too here. "Fraser was...." He hesitated, searching for the words.
Ray just eyed the hand and clenched his fists to keep from knocking it away.
"I knew him for a long time," Welsh said finally. "Sometimes seemed like too long." The ghost of a rueful grin crossed his face, then vanished. "He was... one of my best men."
Ray nodded, and kept nodding until he remembered how to stop.
"I need," he said, and swallowed. "To go. Now."
Finally, thankfully, Welsh let go of his arm. "Take some time off, Detective," he said. "Get your head together. However long you need."
Ray had turned and walked out without a word. There was nothing he could say. Harrison's words still rang in his ears, drowning out all rational thought.
He could still hear them now, if he concentrated; could still feel the kid's shirt clenched between his fingers, the rapid pulse fluttering under his fist. Could still see the fear and panic in those wide blue eyes.
He'd expected to see Fraser's face, when he finally closed his eyes. This way it was almost a relief.
"So you're telling me," Benton said, eyeing the pemmican in his hands dubiously, "that I'm not actually supposed to be dead."
"I always said you were a quick one, son." Robert Fraser poked at the campfire. A log collapsed, sending up a flare of sparks. "Eat up, you look peaked."
"I'm dead," Benton said testily. "I don't have to eat."
"Yes, but you're not supposed to be dead, so where does that leave you?"
"Still dead and still not hungry. What does that mean, exactly, 'supposed to'? Who exactly is in charge here?" A sudden thought occurred to him, and he leaned forward, wide-eyed, the pemmican forgotten. "Is it...." He lowered his voice. "God?"
Robert snorted. "And just because I'm dead, I'm supposed to know? You're dead-- do you know?"
"No," Benton said, a trifle smugly, "but I'm not supposed to be dead, according to you. So how do you know?"
Robert looked up with a frown. "Does this conversation seem strangely circular to you?"
"It wouldn't if you'd just answer my damn question!"
"Don't talk to your father like that, son. I would've thought your grandmother taught you better."
"She's dead too," Benton said meanly. "Why isn't she here? We could have a tea party. Hell, get Granddad, we'll have enough for a game of bridge."
"Now you're just being flippant."
"I'm starting to see the temptation of shooting you."
"That's cruel, son, that's a cruel thing to say."
Benton sighed, recognizing that he wasn't about to get any straight answers. His father always could talk circles around him. Ray wouldn't believe it, wouldn't believe anyone could shut Benton up, but he'd never met Robert Fraser.
Ray.... A sudden, sharp pang of loss sliced through him. He still remembered the fury in his partner's face, fury that he now realized had been underlain by panic. He wished he hadn't died, not like that.
He wished he could have at least said something.
Benton cleared his throat-- he didn't need to, he was dead and he didn't even have phlegm anymore, but the force of habit was strong-- and said, peeved, "Fine, don't tell me. Be cryptic. See if I care. Just tell me what I'm supposed to do about it."
"Do?" Robert echoed, looking blank.
"Yes, do. I'm not supposed to be dead, so obviously there's a way to fix this." He hesitated, unnerved by his father's expression. "Right?"
"Well," Robert said, visibly reluctant, "there is one way."
"Great." Benton stood and rubbed his hands briskly. "So what is it?"
Robert smiled up at him. "Wait, son."
"Just...." Robert gestured expansively. "Wait."
Benton sat back down with a huff. "Well, you're certainly a fount of useful information."
"Oh, relax," Robert said, and smiled. "How often do we get a chance to just sit and catch up with each other?"
"Far too often, in my opinion."
"I'll ignore that. You're dead. You're not thinking clearly."
"Is that your excuse?"
"Eat up, son," Robert said, with a note of finality in his voice, and Benton found himself nibbling at the pemmican before he even had a chance to object.
Old habits died hard.
And as it turned out, he really was hungry after all.
Harrison was bored. Bored and antsy.
That was a combination that usually boded ill for him.
He'd already inspected Vecchio's apartment in minute, exhaustive detail; had thrown a few darts at the board in the front hall, had studied the photos on the walls and the desk, had peeked in the small box in the kitchen and found crumpled receipts and hand-scrawled unintelligible notes, had inspected the liquor collection beneath the bar, had flipped through the records and CDs and whistled over the stereo setup, and then, in a last burst of desperation, had scanned the titles of the books on the shelves. Now he leaned over the aquarium in front of the window, staring at the turtle inside.
The turtle closed its eyes and pulled its head back into its shell, clearly uninterested in his presence.
Harrison sighed, and watched as his breath fogged on the glass.
He wanted to turn on the TV, but some rare burst of guilt made him leery of disturbing Vecchio in the bedroom. Or maybe it wasn't guilt. Maybe he was just afraid that Vecchio was this close to snapping and going for his throat.
After all, it wasn't every day you got a cop's partner killed and he invited you back to his apartment for tea and cookies. Hold the tea and cookies, of course, and damn, was Harrison hungry. One bite of jelly doughnut did not a brunch make.
He wiggled his fingers one last time at the unresponsive turtle, then went back into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Not much there-- Chinese takeout boxes, a couple suspect-looking things in Tupperware, and a pizza box with half a slice left, along with some wilted-looking greens and the usual assortment of jars and condiments. Harrison prodded the pizza, sniffed at the Chinese, and finally reached for a jar of dill pickles.
He found a jar of instant coffee in one of the doorless cabinets and figured he might need it, so he filled a cow-spotted mug with water and heated it in the microwave. He was leaning against the counter, half-eaten pickle in one hand and steaming mug in the other, wondering why he'd ever thought pickles and coffee would be a good combination, when he heard his cell phone ring.
Harrison dropped the mug and the pickle-- the one rather more carefully than the other-- and hurried back into the living room, where he wasted valuable seconds trying to find the phone. By the time he found it, slid between two couch cushions and hidden by his leather jacket, the voice mail was about to answer, and he flipped it open with a desperate, too-forceful "Hey!"
"Harry." As usual, Tru sounded distracted. "I was just about to leave a message. What's the big emergency?"
"Oh man." Harrison threw himself backwards onto the couch and stared at the ceiling. "I need help, Tru, you gotta come to Chicago."
"Yeah, I figured that from the 'help, I'm in Chicago' part of your messages. And correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the first phone call from jail?"
Harrison winced. "Tru--"
"How's that going straight thing workin' out for you?"
"Not so well," Harrison said, "at the moment."
"So help me, Harry, if this whole thing is about bail money--"
"It's not, it's not," Harrison said quickly, sitting up and running a hand through his hair, absently disarranging it in the back where the couch had pressed it flat. "Bail money, I took care of bail money. This is about a dead guy."
Tru sighed loudly. "I was afraid of that."
"Look, this guy, he's a Mountie, all right? And if he stays dead, I am gonna be in so much shit, Tru--"
"A Mountie?" She sounded dubious. "Like, hat, boots, horse? Mountie, Mountie?"
"No, Tru, the other kind of Mountie."
"Hey, like that's a given. Stripper years, remember?"
"Leave Giselle out of this."
"And where do you come in?"
Harrison blinked. "With Giselle? I kinda thought it was obvious--"
"Ew, no. I meant this dead Mountie of yours."
"Well," Harrison said, and winced. "It's, um, kind of my fault."
Tru's voice sharpened. "Oh, God. Harry, you didn't--"
"No, Tru, I did not kill a Mountie."
"I wasn't going to...." She trailed off weakly.
"Yeah, you were," Harrison said pleasantly. He sprawled backwards on the couch, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. "And no, I did not off the Canuck. But, um." He winced again. "There was, like, this deal last night, and it kinda went sour, and, um, the Mountie kind of got between me and, uh... the bullet."
"Oh God," Tru said, in a completely different tone of voice. "Harry, you-- you're okay? Nothing happened to you?"
"Not yet," Harrison said, remembering Vecchio's brief but terrifying rage. The way he'd just cold-cocked Paulie's guy, just like that.... "But I got the feeling I ain't exactly Mr. Popularity with the cops around here, and right now I'm stuck with one."
"You're with a cop?"
"Yeah, he paid my bail. He knows where the bodies are buried, is all I'm sayin'. I'd like to continue not being one of 'em."
"Nothing's gonna happen," Tru assured him, though she didn't sound very convinced of it herself.
"Yeah, well," Harrison said, "nothing will happen if this guy asks you for help, right? You can call me, warn me in time--"
"Not in time to prevent whatever happened last night. I woke up this morning like usual, I can't go back that far."
"Yeah, but you can tell me not to pick the Mountie's pocket, right? Then I won't be there at all, and Garvey won't shoot."
"Wait a minute," Tru said. "You picked a Mountie's pocket?"
"Hey now," Harrison said defensively, "I didn't know he was a Mountie at the time, okay?"
"And again, I have to wonder what happened to going straight--"
"Long story, Tru, and I'll give you all the sordid details if you want, but can you please just get here? Please. I'll--" He racked his brain. "I'll cover the cost of the plane ticket, okay?"
"You can't afford that."
"Hey, I got a legit job now. I'm flush."
"Fine," Tru said, "and if," and Harrison sat up again and cut her off with a fervent "Thank you, Tru, thank you."
"Not so fast, cowboy." She sounded amused despite herself. "If the day repeats, you won't have to bother. But if it doesn't, I'm holding you to that."
Harrison wasted a few seconds trying to remember if his checking account was even in the triple digits-- legit job, yeah, but he still had plenty of cash going out-- before he remembered that it didn't matter. If the day didn't repeat, he'd be screwed anyway.
If the day didn't repeat... Vecchio would be pissed at him for lying, his case would go to trial, and the judge and the jury might use the death of the Mountie to up his sentence. So far, Harrison had managed to stay out of jail, barring the occasional holding cell. He really didn't want to break the streak.
He was, he knew, way too pretty to go to jail.
So much depended on one dead Mountie turning his head and going, Help me....
"Fine," was all he said, gripping the phone hard and staring ahead at nothing. "Shit, Tru, you can have my firstborn for all I care. Just get here, okay?"
"Where's here, exactly?"
"It's--" He stood, looking around for the stack of mail he'd seen, and found it on the kitchen counter. "Got a pen?"
"Hang on," Tru said, then, "Yeah."
"Fabulous." He read off the address from the bill on top of the stack. "Got that?"
"Call me as soon as you get in. And Tru?"
"Yeah, yeah," she said, and he could almost hear her eyes rolling. "I know-- don't fall asleep. I had a long day, Harry. You're gonna owe me big for this."
"Believe me," Harrison said, "I know."
He flipped the phone shut and then just stood there for a few moments, bracing himself on the counter. Then his brain kick-started, and he thought, Vecchio. The cop had told Harrison to wake him when Tru called.
He couldn't help thinking that opening that bedroom door would be a lot like walking into the lion's den.
As it turned out, he didn't have to. When he steeled himself and turned toward the bedroom, Vecchio was standing in the doorway, looking bleary and rumpled. The now-empty bottle dangled loosely from his hand.
"That her?" he asked tonelessly.
"Yeah," Harrison said; and then when Vecchio's eyes slid to the cup of coffee and the pickle still on the counter, he added quickly, "Sorry, I just-- sorry. I was hungry."
When Vecchio didn't respond, he added, "You don't got a lot of food, you know?"
Vecchio stared at him, those intense, pale blue eyes like lasers. "She coming?"
"Yeah," Harrison said, and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Soon as she can."
Vecchio tossed the bottle aside, not bothering to look where it landed, and stalked across the room to where Harrison stood. Harrison took a step back and found his back pressed against the counter. He placed his hands on the edge of it, bracing himself.
Slowly, deliberately, Vecchio came in close, resting his hands on the counter next to Harrison's, hemming him in. The cop had a few inches on him, and he leaned forward until Harrison could feel his hot breath, could smell the vodka on him. Harrison felt his own breath stutter to a stop.
In a low, cold voice that he almost had to strain to hear, Vecchio said, "You know what I'll do to you if this is some kinda trick."
Harrison swallowed hard, feeling his Adam's apple bob. He didn't know for sure, but he had plenty of ideas.
"Listen," he said, figuring it was as good a time as any to try and cover his ass, "thing is, it doesn't always work. I mean, it doesn't happen every time-- not every dead body asks for help."
"Meaning?" Still that soft, dangerous tone.
"I'm just saying, this thing ain't a hundred percent. It might--" Harrison swallowed again. "It might not work."
"So you're saying that Fraser," and if Vecchio seemed to have trouble getting the name out, Harrison sure as hell wasn't gonna point it out to him, "might stay dead."
"He might." Harrison paused, and Vecchio's gaze didn't waver, so he decided to go for broke. "Listen, I'm really-- really-- sorry about all this. Fraser was a good guy, and I really didn't mean for--"
His nose exploded in pain.
Harrison fell back against the counter, head spinning, and was only vaguely aware of the hand around his throat, slamming him flat across it. His hands flung out automatically for balance, and he felt one knock over a paper towel roll. But he didn't see it; all he saw was Vecchio's face, contorted in a truly fearsome snarl, veins standing out on his forehead, narrowed blue eyes inches from his. Vecchio had headbutted him, and now held him pinned on top of the counter.
"You don't say that," Vecchio was growling, "you don't get to say his name," and as the blood started to trickle from his nose, Harrison realized that he'd miscalculated, and the cop had finally snapped.
His hands weren't braced on the counter anymore; they were scrabbling at the hand around his neck, trying to pry it away. He felt himself sliding off the counter and spread his legs wider, for balance, and Vecchio stepped, oh God, right in-fucking-between his legs and leaned over further, till they were pretty much nose to aching nose.
"Get off," Harrison hissed in desperation, blinking back tears of pain; "get off me, let go," because the situation was getting critical, Vecchio was baring his teeth like he'd like nothing better than to rip Harrison's throat out, and so help him, all Harrison could think of was how hot he looked like that.
Vecchio pressed his lips against Harrison's ear.
"You say his name," he murmured, "you try to fucking apologize, I will kill you. Got it?"
"Yes-- just--" Harrison gasped, "let go," and his dick was starting to take a serious interest in the proceedings, and he'd never quite realized just what a sick fuck he could be.
But it was too late, and he knew the exact instant it became too late; Vecchio pressed down against him, and his dick sprang fully to attention, and Vecchio just... stilled. He stared down at Harrison, with those wintry blue eyes like two chips of ice, and then he smiled-- a cold, chilling smile that wasn't really a smile at all.
Harrison dug his fingernails into Vecchio's hand and closed his eyes and cringed, waiting for the blow he was sure would come.
He just hoped the cop didn't hit his nose again. It felt like it might be broken.
But it wasn't a punch that hit his face, though it sure felt like one; it was lips, and teeth, and tongue, crushing his mouth like a fist, and then suddenly Vecchio was kissing him, hard and desperate and needy and frantic, and the hand around his throat tightened and then relaxed; and his feet were already partway off the floor, and it didn't take much effort to bring one leg up, wrapping it around Vecchio's narrow hips-- for support, he told himself, nothing more.
Vecchio's-- Ray's, he supposed there was no need to be formal when the guy was inspecting his tonsillectomy-- Ray's stubble scraped over his face, and the burn was utterly alien and incredibly hot, and Harrison knew he wasn't the manliest man who'd ever crushed a beer can on his forehead, and maybe one too many jocks in high school shoving him against a locker and calling him "fag" had left a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but he never figured he'd be here, with a cop of all people, proving them all right.
His hands slid up Ray's arms of their own volition, then into his hair, burying themselves in the stiff blond spikes and holding on for dear life.
Harrison felt like he was drowning, and he didn't want it to stop.
And then, just like that, it did. Ray released him and took a step back, staring down at him, and Harrison's leg fell back to the floor with a depressingly loud thud. A moment later, his knees gave way, and he felt himself starting to slip again. He clutched at the counter once more and tried to regather his scattered wits.
He felt open, exposed, laid bare, splayed out on the counter like some kind of buffet. Vecchio, by contrast, looked as still and impenetrable as a statue.
Still, maybe, he realized a moment later; but that awful, bone-deep stillness was gone. Ray was staring at him with cold, watchful eyes, but there was an energy there, like a controlled vibration just beneath the skin, that hadn't been there before... and the thought of Ray and vibration, together, was a little too much to contemplate just then.
Harrison's breath was loud and harsh in his own ears. He squinted at Ray, wondering what he was doing, what he was waiting for; and then, suddenly, he knew.
Ray was waiting for his assent. He was waiting for him to act.
Harrison closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose, which turned out to be a mistake. Blood bubbled into his throat, and he started to cough.
He felt movement nearby. Vecchio dumped the coffee out in the sink and rinsed out the cup, then filled it with lukewarm water and handed it to Harrison without a word. Harrison drank greedily and made a face.
"Ice," Ray said, gesturing at the freezer. He looked lost, like he'd just woken up somewhere unfamiliar and he didn't know how to get home.
Except he was home.
Harrison wiped the blood with the back of his hand, and was relieved to find his nose wasn't broken, just bruised. Then he set the cup deliberately on the counter and pushed himself upright.
Because it didn't matter. Because if the day didn't repeat, he'd be screwed anyway; might as well have a fun new sexual identity crisis to take his mind off things. And if it did repeat, then who cared? He wouldn't even remember.
It would be like a dry run, he thought. Practice sex. An audition, even. Some kind of test-- did he even want this, or was it just hunger and fear and fatigue and adrenaline, all crashing down in the same instant?
Only one way to find out.
They'd shoved him and called him a fag, and maybe it did leave a chip, but when it came down to sex, Harrison followed the dubious policy of Dick Knows Best. It led, he followed. Things didn't always end well, but it always seemed worth it at the time.
His legs carried him slowly towards Ray, closing the distance between them. Ray just watched him, heat sparking in those cold, pale eyes.
Screw the jocks, anyway. Harrison Davies would try anything once.
This was insane.
Even as he shoved Harrison against the wall, even as he continued to explore that expert, willing mouth, it kept running through Ray's head, like a record stuck on a loop: This is insane. This is insane. This is....
It seemed oddly fitting. Fraser, after all, often did six insane things before breakfast, the first always being wake up on a cot in a tiny office that would've been better used to store snowshoes or something, and it only got insaner from there.
Ray ground his body against Harrison's, mapping that fine-boned frame through their clothes, feeling Harrison's eager response and the fingers once again tangling in his hair. He tilted his head to get wetter, hotter, deeper. He didn't know if it was the alcohol making his head spin or just the human fucking contact, it had been way too long, but either way it was a little too easy just to lose himself in this.
With any luck, that was what he'd manage to do.
Harrison moaned into his mouth, sounding choked. His eyes were squeezed shut. Ray's were wide open.
Harrison, with his bruised-looking blue eyes, his surprisingly delicate features and his obscenely red, wet mouth. Harrison, who was always in motion, restless and fluid even while standing still. Harrison, whose pulse pounded wildly in his throat, like a drum beat. Ray tasted his pulse, briefly, before moving back up to his mouth.
Harrison, who wasn't Fraser.
The kid with the too-big name, who was a little too smart for his own good.
Maybe they weren't so different after all.
Ray didn't want to think about that. He didn't want to think, period. He wanted to quietly go insane and not have to deal with the consequences.
The way Harrison told it, he'd never have a better chance.
So Ray rubbed his thigh between Harrison's spread legs, and the kid moaned again, his eyes fluttering open. Intense, laser-blue eyes, now unfocused and dazed.
Pickpocket. Drug dealer. Murderer.
Whatever he was, he looked damn good like this.
Ray growled low in his throat and closed his teeth around the kid's lower lip. He slid his hands up under the threadbare button-down shirt, feeling smooth, heated skin, the bones close beneath the surface. Fraser, Ray thought, would be solid and muscular under his touch. Harrison was loose-limbed and wiry, and Ray's hands spanned the diameter of his shoulder blades.
He was thinking again. That was a mistake.
Ray grasped Harrison's collar, rubbing his thumb over the top button, and pulled their mouths apart with a wet sucking sound. Reckless from Russian courage, he started to undo the buttons, and didn't miss the brief flash of apprehension in Harrison's eyes.
Ray closed his eyes and leaned forward, resting his forehead on the wall above Harrison's shoulder. "No means no, kid," he said, suddenly weary. "You wanna do this or not?"
He felt Harrison shift under him, heard him lick his lips. Then he said softly: "I just... never done this before."
Stripped of its usual overconfident bluster, his voice sounded horribly naked and vulnerable.
Ray went cold, and altogether too sober.
"Shit," he said, stepping back; then, more forcefully, "Shit," and he punched a hole in the wall next to Harrison's head.
The kid jerked away with a startled yelp. His eyes snapped back into focus, going shrewd and calculating.
"Feel better?" he asked sarcastically, straightening his shirt.
"Much," Ray said, shaking out his fist.
Harrison licked his lips again. One hand rose to his mouth, probing the bite mark on his lower lip.
"Look," Harrison said finally, "anyone gets to have cold feet here, it's me. What's your problem?"
Ray gave a short, bitter laugh. "You think I know what I'm doing?"
"Oh," Harrison said, wide-eyed and suddenly looking very young. "You-- I thought--"
"Yeah," Ray said, and hoped he'd leave it at that.
It was a mistake. This was insane, and it was a mistake.
It wasn't that he didn't know he liked men. It was just that, ever since he first knew how the plumbing even worked, he'd liked Stella better. There had been one time, in college, during one of his and Stella's off-again periods. At some club or other, high off weed and endorphins, he'd kissed his friend Dave, and Dave had kissed back. Just the once. Then Dave had hauled off and punched him, and Ray had hit back, and between the two of them they racked up three black eyes, a broken nose, a split lip, and a night in a holding cell for brawling in public; and that was that.
He'd thought about hitting the bars after his divorce-- that was the cliché, wasn't it?-- but he'd been too chicken. Too afraid of seeing someone he knew, running into someone from Vice.
Harrison, unfortunately, refused to be dissuaded. Of course it wouldn't be that easy. "But you--"
"I'm a cop, dumbass," Ray snapped, and that should've been the final word.
Of course it wasn't. Harrison rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, but that doesn't mean you can't do it, right? Just you can't tell anyone."
Yeah. It was so fucking simple.
"The hell with me," Ray said through gritted teeth. Fury and grief gave him fangs. "What the fuck are you doing? Is this like some big moment of sexual awakening for you, or did this just seem like a good time to fucking experiment?"
Harrison shrugged, looking uncharacteristically diffident and not doing a good job of hiding it. "Look, I just want to, okay? Christ, it doesn't have to mean anything--"
Ray gave him a hard shove, and he stumbled and caught himself against the wall.
"It means everything," Ray nearly shouted. He was shaking, he realized. "It means Fraser's dead, he's dead because of you, and you just wanna have some fun--"
He broke off. Harrison had gone white as a sheet.
"I know," Harrison said quietly, after a moment. "Jesus, I know. I just--" He slumped against the wall and covered his face with his hands.
Ray waited, his body trembling with repressed violence, his breath hissing in and out between his clenched teeth. He was still hard, and he didn't even care why anymore.
"It doesn't matter," Harrison said finally. His voice was muffled by his hands. "Not now."
He looked miserable. Ray unclenched his fists with a great effort of will.
Then he reached out and gathered Harrison's collar in his fist, and Harrison lowered his hands and stared at him, eyes narrowed and watchful.
Ray tore the shirt down the front with one vicious yank, scattering buttons across the floor and baring a smooth expanse of flat, nearly hairless chest.
"Okay?" he asked, in a low voice.
"Okay," Harrison agreed, after a pause. He still looked nervous.
But that didn't matter.
So Harrison got to see the bedroom after all.
Good thing he wasn't actually angling for a look at the interior design, because he only caught a few glimpses on the way to the bed. The rest of his attention was fully occupied by the tongue in his mouth and the hand down the front of his jeans.
Ray kissed like he needed it, open-mouthed and hard and voracious, propelling the two of them across the room as much by his lips as by his urgent hands. It wasn't even kissing, really; kissing was too nice a word. This was a demand, and Harrison couldn't help suspecting it was a good thing. If Ray'd given him a chance to stop and think, he might be seriously freaking at this point. It was one thing to be up for sexual experimentation in theory, and a very different thing to put that theory into practice.
He kind of wished Ray hadn't drunk all the vodka.
But Ray had, and between the lack of air and all the blood in his body currently congregating somewhere very far from his brain, Harrison was feeling a little drunk anyway. Even the whisker burn was starting to feel familiar, and kind of weirdly nice, like a cat licking his face or something.
Okay, so he was feeling a lot drunk.
They'd kicked their boots off in the living room, and Harrison had shrugged the rest of the way out of his torn shirt, and that was as far as they'd gotten before Ray had jumped him again. Now, as they stumbled into the bedroom, the backs of Harrison's knees hit something that he vaguely identified as the bed, and he sat down hard, feeling the mattress bounce beneath him. Ray's hands, long-fingered and callused, grasped his bare shoulders and pushed him down on his back, and then Ray crawled onto the bed above him, still attacking Harrison's mouth with his own. He pulled his T-shirt up his chest and only reluctantly broke contact to yank it over his head.
Now shirtless, Ray knelt over Harrison with knees on either side of his hips, breathing heavily and staring down at him. Ray's hair stuck up in staticky tufts, even more than before, giving him the look of a kid who'd stuck his finger in a socket. Then Harrison's eyes traveled south, and whoa. Okay, correction: Ray looked nothing like a kid.
His torso was lean and narrow, with long, spare muscles and the shadow of ribs under his pecs. Too thin, maybe, but with just the beginnings of middle age beginning to creep in around the middle. It occurred to Harrison that Ray might be the oldest person he'd ever slept with; Sarah had been older, but she'd still been in her late twenties. His mouth went dry, and his stomach gave an uneasy lurch. Ray was very, obviously male, and just as obviously a man, and just then his flat chest and the dark blue tattoo on his bicep were giving Harrison all kinds of second, third, and fourth thoughts.
For a moment, just a moment, he considered backing out, saying... what? He'd changed his mind? Ray had made it very clear what he was getting himself into. He couldn't exactly call shenanigans.
And then Ray grinned, a hungry, wolfish grin that left his eyes hard and burning, and between the air rushing out of his lungs and the world suddenly tilting sideways, Harrison thought, Oh, right. That was why he was doing this. Because the hard edges of Ray's face made him forget how to breathe.
Harrison summoned all the nerve at his disposal, propped himself up on his elbows, and gave Ray his cockiest grin. "What, I got something on my face?"
"You know," Ray said, "I like you better when you can't talk," and before Harrison could protest the inherent unfairness of that statement-- he was being good, damn it, or better than usual anyway-- Ray cut off anything he might have said with his own mouth, pushing Harrison flat on his back once more.
It was different now, skin to skin, and Harrison shivered at the sensation. Ray's body was different from a woman's, yeah thanks, Captain Obvious, and it felt too solid somehow, planes and angles where he expected curves, and oddly dense, like there was too much Ray packed in there.
Then Ray ground their crotches together, the hot hard bulge in his jeans rubbing against Harrison's insistent denim-covered dick, and Harrison's hips bucked up as his brain shorted out and he dug his fingers into Ray's back and tried to remember his own name.
"Pants," he gasped, tearing his lips away, "get 'em off, I can't-- oh--" and Ray's mouth, deprived of Harrison's and apparently determined to suck on something, settled on Harrison's waistband after scraping a line down his chest with his teeth. Harrison grabbed for Ray's head again, partly to have something to hold on to, partly because he couldn't help it; he just liked touching Ray's hair.
And then he realized that Ray was unbuttoning his jeans with his teeth, and Harrison thought about those teeth, bared in a snarl and aimed at his throat, and he groaned and nearly came right there.
Damn. For someone who claimed to be a novice at the whole gay sex thing, Ray was good.
He thrust up again, and Ray's hands grabbed his hips and held him down as those teeth continued to work. Harrison twisted in his grip, feeling vaguely guilty for letting Ray do all the work, but as there wasn't much else he could do in his current position, he gave a mental shrug and settled back to enjoy himself.
Then he thought, What the hell, he's got my pants in his mouth, and bent his knee up, feeling awkwardly for Ray's crotch. He felt shaky with nerves, like the first-time jitters, afraid of hitting something too hard and killing the mood right then and there; but it was good and he managed to rub his knee smoothly in the right spot, and Ray gasped and bit the skin exposed by Harrison's half-buttoned jeans in what Harrison took to be approval. Encouraged, he kept rubbing.
Ray growled low in his throat and Harrison felt the vibration, and then Ray licked the spot where he'd bitten and sat up, shaking Harrison's hands out of his hair. Harrison heard an incoherent sound of protest, which he guessed had to be him, and reached down, but Ray knocked his hands away and all but ripped his jeans the rest of the way open.
Then he gave a muffled snort, and Harrison remembered that he wasn't wearing underwear.
"Laundry day?" Ray asked, with another sharp grin.
"Laundry week," Harrison said, and reached to work his dick out of his jeans. Ray let him this time, and the sudden freedom left him even more lightheaded than before.
Ray gave a small, indecipherable grunt, staring down at it, and Harrison felt the bizarre urge to cover his dick with his hands. Maybe Ray was the one who hadn't thought this through. It wasn't like there was room for confusion on the subject. Harrison had been called fey once before-- by an old girlfriend, one of those floaty New Age types who liked to burn incense during sex, and who'd dumped him when he'd developed an allergy to the stuff-- but no one had ever accused him of being girly.
But before he could get defensive and say some smart-ass thing that would definitely kill the mood, Ray licked his hand in one long, drawn-out slurp and wrapped it firmly around the dick in question.
"Oh God," Harrison moaned, and arched up into the hand. He wanted to grab Ray's hair again, but it was out of reach, so he fisted his hands in the sheets instead. Ray started to pump him, slow at first but getting faster, and then Harrison gasped a little and said, "Wait, I'm gonna--" and it wasn't fair, Ray wasn't even out of his jeans yet, but Ray just shook his head and kept pumping, and Harrison arched his back again and came all over his stomach with a hoarse yell, seeing lights.
He slumped back on the bed, feeling boneless and sated and not a little disappointed. "Dude," he said, when he'd recovered his powers of speech. "That's it?"
"Seriously," Ray said. "You, not talking? That's great for me."
Harrison shook his head, trying to clear the post-orgasmic haze. "Okay, that's totally not what I meant. I'm just saying--"
"I getcha," Ray said, and he raised his come-covered hand and stared at it, eyes narrowed, and Harrison thought, That's how he looks when he's solving a case. And then Ray's tongue darted out and tasted the come, and Harrison's dick stirred again.
Then Ray licked his hand clean.
He licked. His fucking hand. Clean.
"Oh, shit," Harrison said, and then he was at half mast-- it was too soon for him to get fully hard again, but give him a few minutes, he was clearly getting there.
"So," he managed to say. "That's not it, then."
"Not even close," Ray said, with another wolfish grin.
He reached for his own jeans, and Harrison pushed his hands away with a sarcastic, "Oh no, let me."
Something like a shadow crossed Ray's face, but he just said, "Knock yerself out."
Harrison wriggled the rest of the way out of his jeans and tossed them off the end of the bed, then pulled Ray down beside him, figuring it was time for some turnabout already. He kind of wanted to try the teeth trick, but that would just be dorky, doing the same thing Ray did. And he didn't want to fuck it up, because there were just so many ways that things could go wrong with teeth. So he just used his hands to undo the top button, and then he pulled the zipper down, slowly, breathing deeply to calm his nerves.
Ray was wearing faded gray boxer briefs. Harrison grinned.
"Laundry," he said. "You do windows too?"
Ray pulled him down and rolled on top of him. "Some of us don't look like we just rolled off a trash heap."
"Yeah. You sure you're one of 'em?" And then, as Ray reached down to shove his jeans over his hips, Harrison added, "I wasn't done," and tried not to sound too petulant.
"You were taking too long," Ray said, kicking his pants off, and whoa, okay, it wasn't just his jeans he'd taken off. Harrison swallowed and closed his eyes. Then he forced himself to look.
Ray's dick was long and lean, just like the rest of him. It jutted to attention like... well, like a cherry lollipop was the first thing that came to mind, which was weird because it didn't look anything like a lollipop, but there was something about the jaunty angle... and that was a thought he didn't need to be having just then, because he did not feel like explaining why he was losing his shit.
So Harrison just reached out and touched it, tentative at first-- and it was weird, because the only dick he'd ever touched was his own, and he was used to feeling it from both ends, so to speak. Ray's felt different in his hand, but familiar enough that he felt lost for a second, his brain confused by the lack of feedback. And then Ray made a funny little sound and started rubbing against his hand, and his touch grew surer, and it really wasn't so different after all.
Ray reached down and wrapped his hand around Harrison's, so they were both stroking him, and then those long sure fingers closed over Harrison's dick as well, rubbing the two of them together, and the heat was so incredible he half-expected to see sparks fly, like a saw trying to cut through metal.
Ray leaned over and bit his ear, then murmured, "I wanna fuck you," and Harrison's whole body shuddered.
He wasn't sure if he was terrified or just immensely turned on, but either way his dick surged, and just before he came again Ray did something with his hand that left Harrison teetering on the edge, surging and gasping but not-- quite-- there-- yet....
"Chill," Ray said, and he sounded amused. "We'll get there."
Harrison pushed his hand away and scooted across the bed-- he needed the space, he needed to think about this.
Ray caught his expression, and his eyebrows quirked. "Up to you, Harrison. Say the word, or don't."
Speaking was difficult; he forced his lips to wrap around the words, and, okay, that was an interesting mental image, and one that wasn't making the whole talking thing any easier. "You never," he began, and then he couldn't even finish.
Ray rolled his eyes. "Please. I've done that before. I was married," he added shortly, at Harrison's questioning look.
Harrison grinned. "And she let you? And you let her go?"
"Hey," Ray said, with a dangerous glint in his eyes. "Remember that list of things you're not allowed to talk about?"
Harrison just smirked, stretching lazily and folding his arms behind his head.
Ray made a sound, low in his throat, and the next thing Harrison knew he was flipped over on his stomach, with his hands pinned above his head and that unsettling weight covering him head to foot. He moaned, thrusting against the mattress, and felt Ray's erection slip between his thighs.
Hot breath gusted over the back of his neck. "Yes or no, Harrison?"
"Call me... Harry," he gasped, rocking his hips back and forth.
Ray snorted into his shoulder, and he added, "One Harry Potter joke and I'm out the fucking door."
"Hope you stop to get your clothes first," Ray said, "landlady might enjoy it too much," and he stretched an arm over Harrison's head, reaching for the bedside table, and Harrison thought he'd gotten used to this whole naked man thing, but the pale tuft of armpit hair that tickled his nose gave him another jolt.
To cover, he said, "You know, you're not as funny as you think," and watched Ray's hand grope around in the drawer.
"That a 'yes, please'?" Ray nipped at his shoulder and sat back, with a foil packet and a half-empty tube.
"Why the hell not," Harrison said, propping himself up on his elbow to watch the proceedings. "Except, you know, the please part."
"Punk," Ray said, ripping the packet open.
"Yeah, well," Harrison said, "I play to my strengths."
And then Ray had the condom on, and he pushed Harrison back down, and Harrison grabbed a pillow and clutched it, just to have something to hang onto, and he closed his eyes and braced himself.
Doesn't matter, he reminded himself, and was surprised to find that some small, traitorous part of him was disappointed.
Benton felt his head drooping forward, lulled by the vast silence and the warmth and crackling of the campfire, and wondered drowsily why he was so tired. He was dead, after all. He didn't even have a body. He shouldn't be fading like this....
"Uh-oh," his father said suddenly.
In an instant he was wide awake, staring at Robert Fraser in alarm. "Is it-- what is it, what's wrong--"
"Finish your sentences, son," Robert said absently. He ignored Benton's muttered response. "Oh dear. I'm afraid your Yank is misbehaving."
Benton frowned. "Misbehaving? How so?"
His father told him then, matter-of-factly, with what Benton felt was an extremely inappropriate amount of glee, and Benton wanted to hit him. Instead, he just nodded and said, "Ah."
The sick knot in his stomach, he knew, was disapproval. It didn't feel at all like betrayal.
Tru Davies slumped low in her seat, staring out the window as darkness chased the sun across the horizon. It was already dark in Boston, but flying west, they'd caught up with the sun, for a few minutes anyway.
Flying west. She was going to kill Harrison.
She hadn't stopped to grab a book on her way out of the apartment, not even one of her textbooks, so she was stuck with her own thoughts for entertainment. And they were particularly lurid thoughts, mainly centering on her brother's latest monumental mess.
Getting a Mountie shot-- it sounded like the beginning of some bad joke. What was a Mountie even doing in Chicago? And of course, her little brother had to go and pick his pocket, and Tru didn't even want to think about how one event had led to the other. This was a fuck-up of-- well, it wasn't unprecedented magnitude; or rather, it was for Harrison, but Tru had lived through his near-fatal beating, his being set up for murder, had even stood over his dead goddamn body for Christ's sake.
There was something oddly comforting about the fact that, no matter how often she traveled back in time, her brother still managed to screw up royally on a regular basis.
Well. Maybe it wasn't comforting so much as intensely annoying.
Tru checked her watch and sighed. What with traffic and the wrangling required to get a last-minute plane ticket, she guessed she'd be arriving in Chicago about five hours after she'd talked to Harrison. She only hoped she wouldn't be too late.
She wanted to lean her seat back, close her eyes for a minute, but she didn't dare. This whole repeating-days thing wasn't an exact science-- she usually started over from the time she woke up in the morning, but more than once she'd rewound to the middle of the day-- but she'd never gone back to before the last time she'd woken up. Still, she audited med school during the day and worked the graveyard shift at night. Sleep was starting to seem less like a daily necessity and more and more like an impossible dream.
A shadow fell over her, and Tru scooted back to let the guy in 14F past her to the window seat. He squeezed his bulk into the row, sat down, and gave her a wide, hopeful, lipless smile.
Tru smiled weakly back.
Mistake; he took it as an invitation. "So where are you off to?"
Tru turned her head, taking a long, slow look around the plane. Then she turned back to 14F and said dryly, "Albuquerque."
"Really!" he said, missing the sarcasm completely. He gave her a sly look. "Let me guess. You're meeting your boyfriend, right?"
She stared at the seat back in front of her, projecting Leave me alone vibes with every fiber of her being. "No, my brother."
"Really," 14F said again, sounding pleased. Tru tried not to roll her eyes. "I'm Denny, by the way."
"Denny," Tru said, with a fake smile, "I'm really kind of tired. Okay?"
She turned to face him, dropping the smile and fixing him with a hard stare.
"Sure," Denny said, looking unnerved. "Yeah. Sure." He paused. "So what's your name?"
Tru sighed and beat her head gently against the headrest.
She was so going to kill Harrison. And then she'd travel back in time and save his skinny ass yet again.
"Or is your name 'really kind of tired'?" Denny pressed, sounding a little too pleased with himself.
"Yeah," Tru said, closing her eyes. "It is."
She relaxed into the constant drone of the engines, summarily dismissing Denny 14F from existence, and wondered what Harrison was doing right now. He was alone in Chicago with half the police force of the city, and probably all of Canada, pissed at him, with only the Mountie's ex-partner for company. Lord only knew what kind of trouble he'd be getting himself into.
"Nngh," Harrison said, and Ray forced himself to stop and wait.
"Okay?" he asked breathlessly, resting his forehead against Harrison's back, their skin sticking together with sweat.
"Just," Harrison said, and took a deep, shuddering breath. "Okay. Oh man. This is-- okay, go."
Ray blinked, and his hands tightened around Harrison's hips. "Go?"
"Yeah. Go," Harrison said; and then, in a low voice Ray wasn't sure he was supposed to hear: "Before I change my mind."
Yeah, well, fuck it. Ray was no saint. He figured he'd made that abundantly clear.
He dug his fingers into the sharp hipbones and thrust in, a smooth, powerful movement that left him seeing stars and Harrison arching up underneath him with a cry.
"Okay," Ray said, and rested his forehead on Harrison's shoulder this time. "We good?"
"Gimme... minute." Harrison sounded like he was having trouble breathing.
Ray closed his eyes and waited, letting himself accla-- aclo-- get used to the tightness, the unbelievable heat. Harrison's body twitched under him, shifting back and forth with restless energy.
"Okay," Harrison said after a few moments, "I'm good. Let's go."
Some things Ray didn't need to be told twice. He pulled out and pushed back in, and Harrison twisted beneath him and let out a long, low groan like nothing Ray'd ever heard before.
"Oh Jesus," Harrison said, and his voice cracked. "That-- right there. Do that. Again. A lot."
"Twist my fucking arm," Ray said, and complied.
Harrison shook beneath him as he thrust, making loud, incoherent sounds interspersed with the occasional string of profanity. For his part, Ray bit down hard on the kid's shoulder, muffling any sound he might have made with warm, salty skin.
He didn't want to know what he'd say.
Ray reached around and grabbed Harrison's cock, pumping it in time with his thrusts. Harrison bucked into his hand, and all it took was one, two, three strokes, and then he was coming into the sheets.
Ray bit down harder, closing his eyes as his hips sped up, losing the rhythm. Harrison shuddered against him, and he stiffened and came.
The impact knocked him senseless for a few seconds. When his brain started to reassemble, he realized he was draped over Harrison, and the kid was squirming underneath him.
"Much as I'm liking the afterglow," Harrison said, his voice muffled by the pillow, "I wouldn't mind breathing sometime."
"You're breathing fine if you can still bitch at me." But Ray rolled off him, onto his back on the mattress.
Beside him, Harrison flopped onto his back as well. Ray didn't miss the wince as he moved. "I do not bitch."
"Bitch, bitch, bitch."
They fell silent for a few seconds, and then Ray asked, feeling awkward, "You doin' okay with this?"
"Yeah," Harrison said, after a long, ulcer-inducing pause. "Um. Well. I think I'm still trying to take it all in." He paused again. "Um, I'd like to rephrase that."
"Rephrase away," Ray said, and it turned into a yawn. Rephrase awahuhhhay.
He felt the mattress shift, felt Harrison's clear blue eyes on him. "How 'bout you? Everything, ah, copacetic over there?"
"Sure," Ray said with a shrug. He closed his eyes.
"Sure," Harrison echoed.
"Look, I had this conversation already. Months ago." Ray thought for a second. "Except without the audience. So not so much a conversation." He shook his head. "Point is, I'm over it."
"Any tips on how to do that?" Harrison's voice was oddly wistful.
"Deal with it," Ray said, with a half-assed shrug.
Harrison snorted. "Yeah, thanks, that's a huge help. I'll get right on it."
"Deal with it," Ray said again, "or forget it. You're lucky, Harry. You get to do that without the whole repression-angst-serial killer thing happening. No fun."
Without opening his eyes, he reached down, peeled the condom off, and knotted it. He cracked one eye open just long enough to toss it in the trash can, then closed it again. The world was receding to a comfortable distance, and this was a trend he wanted to encourage.
"Hmph," Harrison said, sounding pretty drowsy himself. Ray was relieved. He hadn't planned on having to do the whole talking thing.
Harrison's breathing slowed, evening out, and the sound of it was all it took. For the second time that evening, Ray let himself slip into unconsciousness.
Harrison came awake slowly, not certain at first where he was. He raised his head a little and squinted, looking around. White armchair by the door, tall brass bookcase, beige curtains... and a pretty good-sized bed with dark green covers, which he was currently being naked on.
That much, at least, was familiar.
He turned his head slowly, almost afraid to look.
As soon as he saw the body sprawled next to him-- pale skin, blue tattoo, rebellious blond hair-- it all came rushing back, and he resisted the sudden urge to leap off the bed, run into the bathroom, and hide.
Instead Harrison squeezed his eyes shut and took a few deep breaths. Okay. This was okay. He could live with it. He'd enjoyed himself-- damn had he enjoyed himself; he hadn't known his body could do that, why hadn't anyone ever told him-- and Tru was coming, and--
Shit. Tru. Harrison sat up, looking around wildly for his jeans, and spotted them by the door. He dove off the bed and fumbled with the pockets, finally pulling out his cell phone.
He flipped it open and let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. No missed calls.
From the bed came Ray's drowsy Chicago accent. "Are ya done with the leaping, or do I need to get you a pair a ice skates?"
Harrison let his head fall back and flashed Ray a fake smile. "Oh, ha ha, my sides."
Ray stretched and groaned softly, and Harrison tried not to stare at the way his muscles moved. "If you tell me I gotta get up now, I will kick you in the head."
"Yeah, enough with the threats to my head already."
"Oh, fuck," Ray said obscurely. He propped himself up on his elbows and squinted at Harrison down the length of his body; Harrison averted his eyes again. "You don't got any cigarettes, do you?"
"Nah," Harrison said smugly. "Don't smoke."
Ray fell back to the bed with a muffled thump. "Figures."
"Oh, no, hey, wait," Harrison said, and stood, because he'd been holding Joe's Camels for him (and Joe always made that same damn Joe Camel joke when he smoked, so Harrison should've known he couldn't be trusted), and they were still in his jacket pocket. "Surprise, it's your lucky day."
Ray narrowed his eyes. "Don't even fucking joke about that."
Harrison took an automatic step back, and then he raised his hands and sing-songed, "Yeah, yeah, the list. You want the smokes or not?"
Ray shot him an upraised middle finger, and Harrison grinned and ducked out of the room.
He was bent over the couch, going through his jacket, when someone pounded at the door and a familiar female voice called, "Harrison?"
His heart stopped.
He saw the doorknob turn and yelped, "No, Tru, don't," torn between diving behind the couch and throwing himself bodily against the door to keep it shut.
The hesitation proved fatal. Tru threw the door open and began, "Harry, what--"
Her words cut off with a strangled squeak. She stared at Harrison, wide-eyed, her horrified expression pretty much reflecting his own emotions to a T. He gaped back at her, suddenly all too aware of his swollen lips, the bite mark on his shoulder, the hand-shaped bruises on his hips, and the fact that he hadn't wiped the come off before he'd fallen asleep.
The moment stretched and then snapped, and Tru cried, "Oh, ew!" and spun around, clapping her hands over her eyes, just as Harrison gave an unintelligible yelp and tried to leap over the sofa. His leg caught on the back, and his shoulder hit the floor with a bone-jarring thump.
"Ow," Harrison said to the carpet.
"Oh God," Tru said from the doorway, "I'm blind, holy shit I'm blind--"
"Get out!" Harrison yelled, rising into a crouch, just high enough to peek over the back of the sofa. Tru still had her back to the room, her hands pressed defiantly to her face. "Damn it, Tru, shut the damn door--"
"What the hell," Ray began, sticking his head out the bedroom door, and then he saw Tru's back and said, "Whoa, okay, bye," and ducked back inside.
Tru stiffened and turned slowly, staring at the half-closed bedroom door, her hands still hovering near her face in anticipation of further visual trauma. "Um," she said, and blinked at the door a few times. "Harry?"
Harrison closed his eyes and whimpered.
"Shut the damn door!" Ray yelled from the bedroom.
"Why the fuck wasn't it locked?" Harrison yelled back, peering around the side of the couch.
"You wanna talk about my fucking safety habits right now?" Ray flung the door open again, wearing his jeans and nothing else. "Hey, Harrison's sister. In or out, but pick one already."
Tru's eyes widened at the sight of him, and then she closed her eyes and held up a hand. "Okay. I am gonna go-- elsewhere. And then I'm gonna come back, and everyone's going to be fully clothed, and we will never speak of this again."
"Oh please God," Harrison said fervently, ducking behind the couch again and dropping his head back against the cushions.
"Good plan," Ray said, with a sarcastic edge to his voice.
"Bye," Tru said, and the door slammed.
Harrison raised his head cautiously. She was gone.
"Well," Ray said, and gave him a light, mocking smile. "She seems nice."
Harrison pointed a warning finger at him. "Shut up and get me my clothes."
Tru sat uneasily on the couch, pressing her legs together and trying to take up as little space as she could to minimize contact. She couldn't quite shake the image of Harrison clambering over it.
Harrison... she eyed him now, slumped in the red armchair, huddled in his leather jacket and glaring at her, and tried not to think about seeing him n-- na-- gah. He'd zipped the jacket all the way up to his chin, like he wanted as many layers of clothes as possible between the two of them, for which Tru was profoundly grateful.
Of all the ways she least wanted to see her little brother, "stark naked and fresh from sex" was way up at the top of the list.
And not just sex, but gay sex at that. Tru's gaze turned thoughtful, and she tilted her head, studying Harrison. Was this new, or just an extremely well-kept secret?
Harrison shifted uneasily under her stare and broke the silence. His voice was sullen. "I told you to call first."
Tru blinked. "You did?"
"I did. I so did. I said, and I quote, 'call me when you get in.'"
"Oh," Tru muttered, staring at her knees. "Well. Um. You know, I've been kind of tired lately, I space out sometimes--"
"Tru," Harrison drawled, fake-sweetly, and gave her a fake-sweet smile to match.
Tru smiled weakly back and mimed zipping her mouth shut.
She shifted on the couch, smoothing the wrinkles out of her pants, and then she couldn't help it-- her eyes slid to the closed bedroom door, behind which she could still hear the shower running. She leaned forward and lowered her voice. "Harry--"
"Tru," Harrison protested, with a distinct lack of sweetness this time, either saccharine or the real thing. He sounded indignant, and not a little scandalized.
"Harry," she retorted, cocking an eyebrow. It was kind of funny, really. Or it would have been, if she hadn't gotten an eyeful of the accompanying visuals.
Harrison squirmed. "You know, this is so none of your business--"
"Oh, come on. At least tell me if this is, like, a new thing, or--" A sudden horrifying thought-- she was having way too many of those. "Oh God. You and Jack, you never--"
"What?" Harrison looked like he'd been punched in the stomach.
"Well," Tru said lamely, "you're kind of-- you really hate him...."
"Because he tried to have me killed, Tru! I have a problem with that! Don't you have a problem with that?"
"Oh yeah," Tru said, feeling her face heat. "Well. Yeah. There's that."
Harrison groaned and buried his face in his hands. He peeked at her through his fingers. "I never slept with Jack Harper, Tru, and if it ever happens may God strike me dead on the spot. Understand?"
"Yeah," Tru said, and ran a hand over the back of her neck. "So. First time?"
Harrison glared. "What happened to never talking about this? 'Cause I could go for that right now."
"Yeah, okay." Tru stood abruptly, twisting her hand together and stretching her neck. "So where's this Mountie?"
"Morgue at the twenty-seventh precinct," Harrison muttered, still looking dour. "Ray'll take us over when he--" He jerked his head at the bedroom and pressed his lips together. His face was pink.
Tru couldn't resist. "Ray, huh?"
"Yes, Tru," Harrison said, with exaggerated patience, "his name is Ray. Okay?"
"Sure," she said with a shrug, and gave her brother a long, narrow look. "So what the hell happened, Harry?"
Harrison sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face, then ran his fingers through his shower-damp hair. "Okay, well, you know Paulie?"
"No, Harrison," Tru said, mimicking his earlier tone, "I do not know Paulie. And from the sound of things, I don't particularly want to know Paulie."
"Yeah, bite me," Harrison mumbled, then raised his voice. "Paulie, well, I kinda owe him money. You know, he's friends with my bookie, he lent me some money once-- a long time ago," he added with another glare, "because I have been going straight recently."
"Not too recently," Tru heard herself say.
"Oh ha ha ha. Do you wanna hear this or not?"
She raised her hands, placating. "Okay, sorry. Keep going."
"Yeah, well," he said with a scowl. "I mean, thing is, it was a lot of money. And I been paying him back, but not enough, so he calls me, he says, I come down here and pick up a package for him, we're square. And that's what I want, right? I don't wanna be in debt to these guys anymore."
"Oh, Harry," Tru said, covering her eyes. "Bad idea."
"Well, obviously," Harrison retorted. "I'm just saying, it sounded good at the time."
"Just pick up a package, that's all he said? You had to know it'd be something illegal."
Harrison shrugged a little, and it turned into an agitated full-body wiggle. "Okay, so, it wasn't ideal. But Tru, this was the best deal I was gonna get. I mean, a lot of money, Tru."
She sighed. "So what went wrong?"
"Joe Darby," Harrison said, with a curl of his lip. Tru caught sight of a red bite mark there and averted her eyes.
"Okay," she said, to cover, "Joe I know."
"Yeah, and I wish I didn't. Joe drove us to the meet. I got there and there were, like, a lot of guys, and it looked kind of sketchy, and Joe's waiting in the car down the street, and of course the motherfucker gets skeeved and takes off. And--" Harrison shrugged again. "I was stranded, I panicked, I ran."
"Not like you," Tru observed.
Harrison shook his head. "Nah, there was something seriously off there, I could tell. Either Paulie set me up, or this guy was playing him." He closed his eyes briefly and added, "Garvey. That's the guy's name. He's the one who shot Fraser."
"And Fraser is...."
Tru frowned. "Hell of a coincidence, you being with them when they caught him."
"Yeah," Harrison said, "the universe hates me. I'm dealing."
Harrison sat in the front passenger seat, and his sister in the back. Ray eyed Tru Davies in the GTO's rearview mirror as he turned the key in the ignition. She looked so... normal. Hot, definitely, with long dark hair and a sly smile and the same lazy-lidded bedroom eyes as her brother, only brown instead of blue. Hotness ran in the family, it seemed. Good for them.
Just. She looked like a college student. She didn't look anything like a morgue intern who could turn back time.
He'd kind of expected her to look a little like Mort.
She looked up and caught his eyes in the mirror, like maybe she'd felt him staring at her, then flicked her gaze over towards Harrison, oblivious and still sulking. There was a warning in her eyes, and it should have been ridiculous, her warning him, but somehow it just wasn't that funny.
She had Fraser's life in her hands, and she was worried about her brother getting his feelings hurt. Great. An overprotective sister was the last thing Ray needed.
Then his eyes slid over to Harrison, and he thought, Maybe not the last thing.
Harrison was staring out the window and biting his nails, looking impossibly young in the strobing street lights. Ray had glanced at his rap sheet-- gambling, petty theft, a couple fights, nothing serious-- and he knew the kid had just turned 22, which was bad enough, not that Ray was old enough to be his dad, exactly, but at the time he'd definitely been trying. But Harrison's face was deceptive. Sometimes he looked older. Sometimes he looked about fifteen.
"Hey," Ray said suddenly, remembering. "You got that, uh," and he waved his hand vaguely, and Harrison understood.
"Sure," he said, digging a hand into his jacket pocket. He unearthed a crumpled soft pack of Camels and tossed it at Ray, who caught it one-handed.
"Greatness," Ray said, fishing one out with his teeth. He depressed the dashboard lighter and waited, the unlit cigarette dangling limply between his lips.
"Harry, you smoke?" Tru sounded appalled, and Ray would never be able to call him Harry again, not even for a good Harry Potter joke. Not after what had happened.
"No, Tru." Harrison's voice was weary, and he didn't go into details. "Nice to know you care so much about my lungs, though."
"I care about your everything, Harry," and then she blushed beet-red in the rearview and buried her face in her hands. "Okay, I'm just gonna stop talking before something tragic happens."
"Something else," Harrison muttered.
The lighter popped out, and Ray, having long since mastered the art of the cross-eyed cigarette-dash-lighting-while-driving maneuver, pressed the hot coils to the end of the cigarette without ever taking his eyes off the road. He inhaled deeply and it was so good, his first taste of nicotine in almost two years, it was almost better than sex. Then he cranked the window open because there are young people in the car, he could almost hear Fraser admonishing him, and one must be responsible.
If he were responsible, Ray knew, he'd take the opportunity to talk to Tru. Let her ask some questions, clear the air. He'd be embarrassed, sure, but that wouldn't matter in a few minutes.
But his lips stayed shut around the filter, and he stared at the road ahead, losing himself in the familiar rhythm of driving, chewing up the asphalt and not for a second thinking about where he was driving to.
"Don't talk to anyone," Ray said, as they pulled up in front of the station. He tossed the cigarette butt out the window. "Story is you're identifying a body. Got it?"
Harrison eyed the building; it was depressingly familiar. "And if someone recognizes me?"
"Bullshit like crazy, or run like hell," Ray said succinctly.
Tru stretched in the backseat. "You guys don't have to come, you know. I know my way around a morgue."
"Keep dreaming," Ray said, and cut the engine. "I'm seeing this for myself."
"What he said," Harrison added, and managed to grin. "I'm with you, Tru."
She nodded, and he thought he saw a trace of a smile. "Okay."
Ray shepherded them through the doors and down a long hall, looking jittery. The place wasn't abandoned-- Harrison supposed police stations never actually closed-- but there were definitely fewer people around than there had been earlier in the day. They skirted quickly around the bullpen, and Ray looked like he was starting to relax when a male voice bellowed, "Vecchio!"
Ray froze. Then he closed his eyes and said, with feeling, "Shit."
Harrison looked around, his heart in his throat. A heavyset, tough-looking older guy was leaning in the doorway of the office at the other end of the room, arms folded across his chest.
Ray cleared his throat. "Yeah, Lieu?"
The lieutenant, whoever he was, cocked his head to the side. "You and your friends wanna come see me for a second?"
"No," Ray muttered, but he rested a heavy hand on Harrison's shoulder and propelled him across the room. Harrison saw his other hand hover around Tru's shoulder, then drop to his side.
As it turned out, Tru didn't need any prompting. She followed them, rubbing her eyes furiously, and by the time the office door closed behind them, her eyes were red and watering. She sniffled a little, and Harrison shot her a warning look-- don't overdo it.
She rolled her eyes discreetly, then proceeded to ignore him.
"Vecchio," the lieutenant repeated, sitting down heavily behind his desk. Ray bowed his head, scratching nervously at the back of his neck. Harrison hung back by the door. "Thought I told you to go home."
"Yeah, well." Ray jerked his shoulder in the vague direction of Tru. "Got a tip on a John Doe in the morgue. She thinks it might be her boyfriend."
On cue, Tru let out a strangled sob. Harrison thought of Luc and tried not to wince.
The lieutenant nodded, though he didn't look entirely appeased. He fixed Harrison with a hard stare, and Harrison squirmed. "And your pickpocket?"
The scratching turned into rubbing. Harrison realized he was staring at the fine blond hairs at the base of Ray's skull, and quickly averted his eyes. "Just keeping an eye on him, sir."
The lieutenant leaned across his desk and gestured, and after an apprehensive glance at Harrison, Ray leaned in as well. Harrison strained his ears and tried not to look like he was eavesdropping, and caught a few whispered fragments.
"--why you paid his bail, Detective?"
"He's a--" and Harrison missed whatever Ray thought he was, and felt strangely disappointed. But he did hear Ray add, "--not his fault."
Yeah. Be nice if it were true.
The lieutenant looked similarly unconvinced. His eyes flicked over Harrison, cold and hard, and then he turned back to Ray. "Listen, Vecchio, I know this is hard. We all cared about Fraser, but--"
"All due respect, Welsh--"
Welsh raised his voice, not a lot, but enough for Harrison to hear every word. "You're not gonna finish that sentence, Detective, because I know you still want to work here tomorrow. Just--" He glanced at Harrison, and Harrison tried not to look too interested. "Get the kid outta here. Dewey can take the girlfriend downstairs."
Tru sniffled again.
"Not a good idea, sir," Ray said woodenly, straightening.
"And why is that?"
Welsh pressed his lips together, then nodded. "Point. Okay, take her--" and Ray turned to leave, and Welsh added loudly, "Not so fast, Detective."
Ray turned back slowly. "Yeah?"
"We will talk," Welsh said, and it sounded like a threat. "And you will take time off."
Ray jerked his head to the side, and Harrison heard a faint crack. "Thought I still wanted to work here tomorrow, sir?"
"Time off," Welsh repeated, "or you'll be working the meters tomorrow. Get me?"
Ray looked like he wanted to say something more-- it was kind of scary, how quickly Harrison had learned to read him-- but then he looked at Tru and kind of... deflated.
"Yeah," he said quietly, in that deadened voice Harrison was really starting to hate. "Okay. Got it."
He jerked the door open and started to leave, and Harrison and Tru moved to follow. Welsh's voice stopped them. "Davies."
Harrison glanced over his shoulder, automatically, and saw Tru do the same. This time he did wince.
Welsh didn't miss it, either. "Miss," he said, in that deceptively gentle voice cops were so good at, the kind that overlaid sheer steel. The kind they used when they were trying to get you to grass on your buddies. "What's your name?"
Tru shot Harrison a nervous look, and he stared at her blankly, willing her to get the message.
"Tru," she said, and gave an artful hiccough. "Um. Trudence Davis."
"Davis," Welsh echoed.
"Yeah." She shrugged and gave him a wavering smile. "I just. I thought you said 'Davis'. I was just confused for a second."
Harrison watched her, impressed. His big sister was good.
"Right," Welsh said, but he wasn't done. "Davies." He pointed at Harrison. "You. A moment, if you please."
Harrison gulped. And then he said, "Yeah, okay," because he didn't really have a choice.
Ray gave him a level, unreadable look, and hadn't Harrison just been thinking how well he could read him? Apparently not so much. "Wait here for me," Ray said, and Harrison nodded jerkily.
If Fraser would just ask for help, he wouldn't have to wait at all.
The slam of the door echoed like a gunshot, and then Harrison was alone with the lieutenant.
"Sit," Welsh said, with a shark's smile.
He shifted uncomfortably, feeling the same slight burn he'd felt in car, and wow, he was still feeling the sex, and that was not something he wanted to be thinking about with Lieutenant Welsh staring at him like he was trying to read the inside of his skull.
Finally, Welsh leaned back with a sigh. "I've been looking at your sheet."
"You seem like a decent kid," Welsh said abruptly. "Vecchio thinks so, and he's pretty good at reading people. But he's also not thinking straight right now."
You're telling me, Harrison thought, and managed not to say it.
Welsh folded his hands on the desk. "You're had a few run-ins with the Boston PD." He paused. "And the Cambridge PD, and the Somerville PD. Not to mention a sealed juvie record."
"Yes, sir," Harrison said, because he seemed to be waiting for an answer.
"You're probably worried about your trial," Welsh continued.
Not so much, but again, he didn't say it. He realized that as soon as Tru had arrived, he'd relaxed-- well, as much as possible under the circumstances-- but celebration, he knew, was premature. Not every dead body asked for help.
Suddenly, he was worried about his trial.
"Yes sir," he said again, staring at his hands.
Welsh cleared his throat. "Constable Fraser was an integral part of this department, Davies." He paused. "Even though half the time we had no idea what he was doing here, but that's beside the point."
Harrison squirmed. "What is the point? Um, if you don't mind me asking. Sir."
"People are going to take this badly." Welsh narrowed his eyes. "Luckily, Garvey's in custody, so we don't have to worry about a manhunt. And you, by the way, are going to testify at his trial."
He hadn't even thought about that. He should have. Paulie was gonna be pissed.
Paulie could suck his left one. The meet had been hinky from the start, and Paulie should've known.
"Yes sir," Harrison said, and it was his turn to clear his throat. "Whatever you need. Sir."
"In return," Welsh continued, "I think we can cut a deal for the pickpocketing charge."
Harrison blinked. "Sir?"
Welsh eyed him with something approximating sympathy. "Like I said, I've seen your sheet. I also noticed you've been clean for about a year now."
Harrison shifted uneasily. "I've tried, sir."
"You have a job?"
He blinked again-- what was this, what was he getting at?-- but answered. "Yeah, um, I'm working at my dad's law firm. Investigative stuff, mostly."
"Think your father'll vouch for you?"
"Um." Harrison scratched his head. "I certainly hope so, sir."
"Good," Welsh said, "good." He leaned forward again. "So you're trying to go straight. I want to encourage that."
"That's very forward-thinking of you, sir."
"The city doesn't need the expense of another trial, and I don't want to see you bear the brunt of the bad feelings surrounding Constable Fraser's death." He slid a business card across the desk. "I've made you an appointment with ASA Stella Kowalski. Tomorrow morning at nine. I suggest you be there."
"Yes sir," Harrison said, staring at the card. After a moment, he picked it up.
Welsh hesitated, then lowered his voice. "Word of advice, son: she's Vecchio's ex-wife. So--" He gestured. "Be circumspect, Mr. Davies."
"Yes sir," Harrison said, and tried not to think about ASA Stella Kowalski taking it up the ass.
"Good," Welsh said again, and sat back and picked up a stack of papers.
Harrison realized he was dismissed, and half-rose from his chair. "Should I--"
"Sit," Welsh said, not looking at him.
Harrison sat and glanced at the clock. Almost eleven.
Come on, Tru, he thought, and watched Welsh work.
"Nice work," Ray said, as the stairwell door closed behind them.
"Thanks," Tru said, and wondered what else she could possibly say. So you slept with my brother-- Ray was, like, decades older than Harrison (well, one or two, anyway), he was male, he was a cop; he was everything Tru had never expected her brother to end up in bed with, and yet, given Harrison's dating history, she couldn't quite muster up any disapproval. So how 'bout that dead Mountie-- just seemed like a bad idea. She'd watched Ray in the lieutenant's office, and there was... something... there. She didn't think he'd take the question well.
To her surprise, it was Ray who broached the subject. Not the Mountie; the other subject. "So, uh, your brother seems like a decent guy."
"And did you decide that before or after you had sex?"
Ray's head whipped around, and Tru blinked, mentally replaying the comment. Oh. She'd said that?
Well, fine. So it was out there. She met the cop's glare squarely. "Look, he's my little brother. I get to worry about him. Deal."
He glared at her a second longer, then said, "Yeah, okay," and clattered down the stairs. Tru followed, wondering if that was the end of the conversation, and if she had the nerve to press him on the subject.
But Ray wasn't done. "It just happened, all right?" he said over his shoulder, holding the door for her. "I mean, I know it looks bad, me and him--"
"It's not-- it's not the age thing," Tru said quickly, thinking of Professor Evans and suppressing a wince-- what a horrid lapse of judgment that had been. "Or the, you know, the gay thing. It's just--"
"Shut up," Ray said conversationally, opening a door and sticking his head in. Tru blinked at his back, taken aback by the abrupt and matter-of-fact rudeness, and then he re-emerged and said, "Okay, it's clear."
And then, as she stepped past him into the room, he added, "Personal favor? Don't use that word in here."
"What, gay?" Tru asked loudly.
To his credit, he didn't flinch. "That's the one."
She rolled her eyes. "Fantastic. My brother's fallen in with a closet case."
"Hey," Ray said, and slammed the door shut. He jabbed a finger into his chest. "Police officer." He pointed at the ceiling. "Police department. Get it?"
Tru just scowled. "Look, the last thing Harry needs right now--"
"Okay," Ray said, leaning his back against the door, "get one thing straight. This ain't a relationship. I ain't gonna be taking him out on dates. In fact, this--" He gestured vaguely. "This thing works out, it'll never have happened. So while I appreciate the concern, it's not," he paused, "germane. Okay? No germane here."
"Harry know that?" Tru asked quietly.
Ray met her gaze levelly. "I think he's counting on it."
She just stared, studying him. He didn't look away.
Her cell phone rang.
Harrison quickly got bored watching Welsh. He watched the clock for a while, and then watched the cops out in the bullpen, and when he looked back at the clock he was surprised to see less than five minutes had passed. He'd never been very good at sitting quiet and still.
He shifted in his seat, and yet another twinge reminded him of Ray. Ray, who was alone with his sister right now. He wondered what they were talking about. He wondered if he really wanted to know.
Ray... God, Ray had turned his world upside down in just a few short hours. He hadn't really had a chance to actually sit and think about it yet, and now there was nothing else to do.
He knew what Ray looked like naked. He knew what Ray's fingers felt like, unsteady from the alcohol but gentle all the same, preparing him, stretching him... had felt Ray pushing into him, filling him, damn near killing him with near-unbearable pleasure....
Harrison tugged at his collar, feeling flushed. He glanced at Welsh, but the lieutenant still had his head down over his paperwork, was still muttering obscenities under his breath.
He'd been fucked. And....
Nothing had really changed.
He didn't feel different. He didn't feel gay or anything, even though he knew it wasn't supposed to work that way, that it didn't turn people gay. But he'd thought he'd feel something.
Well. Something other than the obvious.
Experimentally he thought, Naked women. He thought about Lindsay, who was, embarrassingly enough, the last woman he'd slept with. He thought about tits and cunts and soft rounded bellies and hips and slender, graceful arms, and then he had to stop thinking because he was sitting in a cop's office and he probably wasn't supposed to be getting turned on.
Then he thought, Naked men, but he couldn't really get a clear picture. Porn and locker rooms: his frame of reference was kind of lacking. So he thought Naked Ray instead, and oh. Okay. There.
Ray, with his razor-sharp smile and the veins that stood out in his forehead when he was pissed, with his spare, utilitarian body and his spiky, touchable hair, with his sunglasses and his insanely awesome car and that tattoo that made him officially a badass. Harrison had gotten a closer look at it, had recognized the Champion logo, and when he asked why, Ray had just shrugged and said, Depends on the day.
Ray, with his pale, pale blue eyes and that unnerving stillness that just seemed so wrong.
Suddenly Harrison wanted to know what he was like when his partner hadn't just died.
He also, Harrison realized a moment later, wanted to know what Ray was like in bed when his partner hadn't just died.
It was an unnerving thought, but he probed it, turning it over in his mind, and realized, yes, it was true. And unnerving, yeah, but not nearly as scary as he'd have thought. Maybe he was only mostly straight. Maybe he was hetero-and-Ray-sexual.
Maybe he was just bi. Now there was a thought.
Harrison had never been one for extended contemplation. He had an idea, he acted. Thinking was Tru's thing, ambition was Meredith's, and acting was his. It was a neat division of labor. No reason to screw with the system now.
He slipped his phone from his pocket and waved it at Welsh. "You mind?"
Welsh didn't even look up, just waved at him vaguely, and Harrison took that for an assent. Or dissent. Whichever.
Tru answered, sounding harried. "What's up? You need a rescue?"
"Nah, I'm good. Just...." He hesitated, glancing at Welsh, and then lowered his voice. "You know, when you-- do that thing you do?"
"Yeah?" Now she sounded wary.
Harrison fidgeted, staring blindly at the wall and wondering how to say it without getting Welsh's attention.
"Tell me to go for it," he said finally. "Just-- yeah. Tomorrow. Today. Whatever. Just tell me."
"Go for it," she echoed.
"You know," and he glanced at Welsh again. "Him. It. Whatever."
Fortunately, she got it. Unfortunately, she didn't sound like she liked the idea. "You sure?"
"Not even close," Harrison admitted. "But, you know. I'll never know otherwise."
"I don't think it's such a good idea, Harry."
Oh, for Christ's sake. Tru and her thinking. "Damn it, Tru, you never like the people I date, and, hey, here's a thought-- it's none of your goddamn business, okay? Just tell me."
"You're making it my business!" she shot back. "You're putting this on me, and if it doesn't work out, who are you gonna blame? Your favorite target, your big sister--"
"Oh, that is so not fucking fair--"
"You blamed me for not bailing you out of that card game, you blamed me when I had doubts about Sarah--"
"What card game? What fucking card game, Tru?"
"Ten of clubs, Harry, remember? First time around, you got the shit kicked out of you and you blamed me--"
"Just fucking tell me!" Harrison yelled, and then dropped his voice again when Welsh looked up. "Tell me you think it's a bad idea, tell me it'll never work, but tell me, okay? Please."
He put everything he had into that please, every last ounce of pleading, and it wasn't even about Ray any more, it was the principle of the thing. Because he had to trust Tru, because she had power over him. Hell, she had power over the whole world.
It seemed to work, though she still didn't sound happy. "Okay, fine. I'll tell you. And I'll tell you that you begged me to tell you."
"Tell me it was awesome," Harrison said, because he was feeling mean.
Tru made a strangled sound. "I'm gonna kill you, Harry, I swear to God."
"Yeah, yeah," Harrison said, and snapped the phone shut.
Welsh held out his hand without looking up. "Give me that."
"Um," Harrison said, staring at him. He had the sinking feeling that he'd done something wrong, even though he wasn't sure what. It was a depressingly familiar sensation.
"Give it to me."
He glanced at the door. No way he'd make it past the bullpen.
"Knock yourself out," he said, and tossed the phone across the desk.
Welsh caught it and flipped it open. Harrison heard the beep beep beep as he pressed the buttons, and wondered just what the hell was going on.
Tru closed her phone, looking pissed. "He wants me to tell him."
"Tell him," Ray echoed, at a loss.
"You know." She glared at him. "About you. That he should, and I quote, 'go for it'."
"Oh," Ray said weakly.
"Well?" She crossed her arms. "Should I? Because I thought you weren't dating. I thought he was counting on that."
Ray thought about Fraser. Perfect Fraser. Perfect, unattainable Fraser.
Perfect, unattainable Fraser, who'd just smooth his eyebrow and crack his neck and go all Oh, dear and then they'd never be friends again.
He opened his mouth to say, Yeah, do it, and then Tru's phone rang again.
She looked at it and closed her eyes. "Oh, Harry, what now?"
Welsh put the phone to his ear. Harrison reached for it, protesting, "Hey, my minutes," and Welsh gave him a quelling glare and he shut the hell up.
"Miss Davies?" Welsh said. "I suggest you and Detective Vecchio get your asses back up here. Immediately."
"Oh, fuck," Harrison said.
"Oh crap," Tru said, staring at the phone.
Ray reached for it, grabbing it out of her hand, and she didn't even remember to be pissed. "What is it? What?"
Tru just shook her head, still staring. Very faintly, she could hear the lieutenant's tinny voice: "--know you can hear me, Detective--"
"Oh shit," Ray said, and tossed the phone across the room like a hot potato.
Two seconds later, his cell phone started to ring.
"Oh Christ, we're screwed." Ray ran a quick hand through his hair, and Tru was briefly amused by the way the spikes sprang right back into place.
Then she started to panic again. "Shit, is he-- is he gonna come down here?"
"Probably," Ray said grimly, looking around with an abstracted air. "Shit, shit, shit. Where the hell--"
The doorknob rattled.
Tru jumped and spun around, staring at it. Behind her, Ray's mutterings took on a more frantic edge.
The door opened, and she braced herself to face Lieutenant Welsh.
Then she blinked.
"Ah, Detective Vecchio!" The white-haired man in the doorway had some kind of Eastern European accent. He wore spectacles, a smock, and a cheerful smile.
Tru recognized him immediately. He was this morgue's Davis.
Ray exhaled, a sharp, explosive sound. "Jesus, Mort, you scared the crap outta me."
Even Mort's frown looked cheerful. "I apologize, Detective. I have work on which to catch up." He paused. "Is somebody ringing?"
"Uh, yeah," Ray said, and flipped his phone open and shut, then jabbed at the power button. "See? No more ringing."
"Good, good." Mort bustled across the room, humming under his breath, and flipped a white cloth off one of the bodies on the gurneys. Tru saw Ray flinch and avert his eyes. "How can I help you?"
"Actually, Mort," Ray said, and his eyes took on a calculating gleam, "you can do me a huge favor."
Mort regarded him solemnly, his good cheer evaporating for the moment. "Anything, Detective. I heard about Constable Fraser. I am very sorry."
"Yeah, yeah, I-- is he here?" Ray interrupted himself, glancing around. "He's here, right?"
"You do not want to see, Detective."
"No," Ray agreed immediately, looking a little sick. "No, I don't. Uh, Mort, this is Tru."
"Hi," Tru said, with a wave.
"Hello, hello!" Mort chirped, and just like that, the cheer was back.
Ray patted her uneasily on the shoulder. "Tru's an intern at another morgue. I said I'd show her around, but, uh, something came up. You wanna give her a tour of the stiffs?"
"Of course," Mort exclaimed. "We have some particularly interesting ones today, there was an unfortunate chemical accident--"
"Yeah, yeah. Don't need to hear it." Ray pulled Tru aside and lowered his voice. "Try and get him to show you Fraser, I'll hold off Welsh. He...." He hesitated. "Um, he's a good-looking guy. Dark hair, blue eyes, you know, built. Um." He closed his eyes.
"I'll find him," Tru said quietly. "Don't worry."
"Great," Ray said, "greatness," and he nodded once at Mort and blew out of the room like a hurricane.
Mort looked at Tru and cocked his head to the side, looking not unlike a curious bird. Tru clasped her hands behind her back and gave him her best smile.
He smiled back, looking delighted. "Tru, yes?"
"Yes," Tru agreed.
"Tru," he said again, and his smile, if possible, seemed to grow even wider. "You like the opera?"
"Dewey!" Welsh yelled.
Behind him, trapped in the office by Welsh's bulk, Harrison said, "Look, I can explain, just--"
"Shut it," Welsh said, and pointed at him. "Dewey!"
The guy who responded to Welsh's hail was about Ray's age, maybe a little younger, affable-looking in a dopey sort of way. "Yeah, Lieu, I was just about to leave--"
"Yeah, yeah," Welsh said. "Keep an eye on Mr. Davies here, would you?"
The look Dewey gave him was anything but affable. "Harrison Davies, huh?"
Harrison gave him a sickly smile. "Hi."
"If he tries to run," Welsh said, "shoot him," and Harrison jerked and maybe squeaked a bit.
"My pleasure," Dewey said, and Welsh stepped aside and let him into the office.
Harrison backed away from Dewey, alarmed. "Okay, I'm serious, there's a very, very good reason for this, if you'd just--"
"Not listening," Welsh said, and vanished.
Dewey stared at Harrison. Harrison tried to look harmless.
"Siddown," Dewey said, his hand on his gun, and Harrison saw no other option but to comply.
He sat, watching Dewey over his shoulder. The cop grabbed his arm, then his other arm, cuffing them together through the slats on the back of the chair. Harrison wasn't going anywhere, unless he planned to take the chair with him.
"I heard about Fraser," Dewey said, perching on the corner of Welsh's desk. His eyes narrowed menacingly. "You getting Fraser shot and all."
"Fuck," Harrison said again, and let his head fall back in defeat.
Ray made it halfway up the stairs before running into Welsh.
"Detective," Welsh said, crossing his arms. He didn't come off as tall, but he was, and with a couple steps between him and Ray, he loomed to an alarming degree.
"Lieutenant," Ray acknowledged, wondering if Welsh could hear his heart pounding. It certainly seemed loud enough.
"Where's Miss Davies?"
Ray blinked, with as much innocence as he could believably muster. "You mean Tru Davis? She ID'd the body, she left already--"
"No, Detective," Welsh said, with exaggerated patience. "I mean Tru Davies. As in Harrison Davies, your pet pickpocket. As in, why did he make a phone call to this woman he supposedly doesn't know?"
Ray opened his mouth, then shut it again. It was official: Harrison was an idiot.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, sir," he managed to say.
"I'm sure you don't." Welsh narrowed his eyes. "Step aside, Detective."
"Step aside," Welsh repeated, "or you can forget about the meters. Come tomorrow, you'll be out of a job. Period."
That was when Ray decided to simply throw caution to the wind and trust in Tru Davies. It was a dicey proposition, but it was the only option he had left.
"Sure thing," he said, and stepped aside.
And, as Welsh passed him on the stairs, he delivered a textbook uppercut that should've laid the lieutenant out for good.
Unfortunately, Welsh's jaw wasn't so much glass as granite. He stumbled backwards, catching himself on the railing, and straightened slowly.
"Crap," Ray said, dancing backwards, his fists at the ready.
Welsh's eyes burned. "Something you want to tell me, Detective?"
"Nothing you'd believe, sir," Ray said truthfully.
"Fine," Welsh said, and set his jaw. "You do realize you're fired."
"I suspected as much, sir."
"Excellent," Welsh said, and backed carefully down the stairs.
Ray followed, fists still raised, wondering glumly how long he could hold out.
"And here, you see, the path of the bullet was...."
Tru stared at the body in front of her and tuned out Mort's words as he spoke, letting the sounds just wash over her, nodding and murmuring in the right places, and wondering how to get him to show her the Mountie's body.
Mort-- now there was a joke on the cosmic level; a coroner named Mort. And he, himself, was something of a cosmic joke. He was just... he was....
No, there really was no way to describe Mort. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was just one weird-ass guy. And Tru regularly crossed swords, metaphorically speaking, with one Jack Harper; she knew from weird-ass guys.
However, Mort's brand of weird-ass-ness was infinitely preferable to Jack's, and Tru found herself wishing she had the time to just sit him down and pick his brain for a while, because he really knew what he was doing. Davis was good at his job; Mort was its living embodiment.
But she wasn't here to learn, and reluctantly Tru dragged her eyes away from the corpse. Mort was winding down, and after he finished, beaming expectantly at her, she waited a few respectful beats and then murmured, "I was wondering-- if you wouldn't mind...."
"Yes, yes?" Mort beamed.
"Do you think I could see Constable Fraser's body? It's just," she hurried on, as Mort's smile started to fade, "the way Ray talks about him, I just-- I feel really close to him, you know? I'd like to pay my respects."
She winced as she heard herself; it sounded smarmy and over-the-top to her own ears. But either she was being paranoid, or Mort was far less perceptive about live people than dead ones, because his expression turned grave and he nodded slowly.
"You are a good young lady," he told her. "A good person."
Tru bobbed her head a little, embarrassed and guilty.
"Come," Mort said, and took her arm gently, every inch the gallant Old Word gentleman.
Wordlessly, Tru let him lead her to the rear of the morgue.
Robert Fraser's head snapped up, and he watched the sky. Benton looked up too, but whatever his father was seeing in the clouds was invisible to him.
"It's time, son," Robert said.
"Time for what?" Benton asked, exasperated.
Robert regarded him solemnly.
"Time to ask," he said.
"--so I go around the fire escape, and Huey kicks the door in, and this guy, he goes for the window but I'm there, and I grab him and throw him, and you know, I wouldn't say anything, but if it wasn't for me Huey so woulda lost him--"
"Dude," Harrison interrupted finally, desperate, because banging his head against the desk didn't seem to work. "Please. Were you planning to kick my ass any time soon?"
"Hey," Dewey said, looming over him with a scowl. "I just want you to know what kinda guy Fraser was. What kinda guy you got shot."
Harrison let his head fall back, looking up at Dewey with an insouciant smirk. "Uh-huh. And that story has what to do with him?"
"Well, obviously," Dewey said, "if we hadn't caught the guy, we wouldn'ta figured who was behind the whole thing! We saved his life!"
"Great story," Harrison said. "Really. I'm gettin' teary just sittin' here."
And then Dewey was in his face and shoving him, hard enough to tip the chair backwards; Harrison wobbled for a few heart-stopping seconds before it settled back down on all four legs. "You're a funny guy, huh?" Dewey jeered, and Harrison started to reconsider the wisdom of mouthing off in his current position. "Comedian, huh? You think you're funny?"
"No sir," Harrison muttered, staring at his knees.
"You wanna hear funny? I'll tell you funny." Dewey straightened and leaned back against the desk again, folding his arms over his chest.
Then he broke into a broad grin and asked, "Whaddya call a fish with no eyes?"
Ray cracked his neck to the side, grinned, and spat blood.
"Doin' good, sir," he said, dropping one fist into a guard position and dancing back beyond arm's reach.
Welsh grunted. The flesh under his left eye was beginning to purple, but otherwise he looked none the worse for the wear. "If I live to be a hundred, I will never understand you, Vecchio."
It almost hurt, to hear Vecchio's name now. Ray was throwing away his career, pretty much his whole life, on the basis of an unbelievable story that wasn't even a guarantee, just a possibility, and he was still doing it as someone else. He didn't even get to hear Welsh call him by his real name.
"Don't bother," he advised. "Nobody gets me. It's my thing."
Welsh circled warily. "Look, I don't know what you think you're going to accomplish, but you can't keep this up. I will get past you."
"I think I could take you. Sir."
"Damn it, Vecchio, what are you protecting?"
Ray just shrugged and grinned again. Welsh was right; he couldn't keep this up, mainly because he wasn't sure he could bring himself to do serious damage to the man. But he didn't need to win. He just needed to stall.
"Listen," Welsh said, "you're under stress. Maybe you're in shock. Maybe we can work this out."
"Don't think so, sir."
He feinted left, dove right, and managed a glancing blow before Welsh deflected him. The fist that drove into his abdomen hit with the force of a pile driver.
Ray doubled over, gasping for breath and seeing stars. Then, without straightening, he dove at Welsh low, taking both of them to the floor.
His lip was torn, his eye was swelling shut, and one of his ribs felt cracked. He was gasping for breath. His blood was singing.
He was alive.
He felt fucking fantastic.
"Here he is," Mort said, and drew back the sheet.
Benton was staring into the fire. He was also staring into a young woman's face.
Or maybe they were one and the same, because her eyes burned with smoldering embers, and the hair surrounding her dancing face was dark with warmth. She was warm, and the rest of the world was cold, and for maybe the first time in his life he didn't want to stay in the snow.
"Go ahead, son," came his father's voice, from very far away. "Ask."
If he asked, he'd get to see Ray. He'd get to be warm again.
But Ray had... misbehaved... with the young pickpocket. Ray didn't want him.
He had always felt Ray's energy like sunlight, bright and brash and kinetic, heating him even from across the room. Now, however, when Benton thought about him, Ray's blue eyes were arctic instead of laser hot, and they stared coldly through him instead of burning into him.
"Ask," his father said again, sounding even further away than before.
Benton stared at the fire-woman and tried to open his mouth, but he couldn't find the words.
"Ask," Tru whispered. "Please, please ask."
But Benton Fraser lay still and silent.
She had a sudden bizarre vision of the Mountie as Snow White. His coloring was right-- black hair, blue eyes, red lips and white skin, his paleness accentuated by the pallor of death. All he needed was someone to come along and kiss him awake....
Tru blinked, and his lips were bloodless again, as ashen as the rest of him.
"Ask," she whispered again, and squeezed her eyes shut and gripped the edge of the gurney.
When she opened her eyes, he lay still as a statue, still as death.
Ray never saw it coming.
One second he was ducking and bobbing and weaving to put Ali to shame, blocking a deadly-looking blow and feeling pretty damn pleased with himself, and the next, a piano crashed into his temple and slammed him to the floor.
Or that was what it felt like, anyway. He knew it was just one of Welsh's fists. But... damn. Even Fraser didn't hit that hard.
He blinked at the rapidly graying linoleum under his nose and thought, Now'd be a good time, Fraser, and then he stopped thinking and just enjoyed the ride down to unconsciousness.
"Ask," Tru yelled, near tears, and then she ran to the nearest gurney and ripped off the sheet.
"Miss Tru!" Mort sounded appalled. "What are you doing? What is wrong?"
"Ask," Tru said urgently, ignoring him. She gave the corpse a shove. "Ask!"
She reached for the next gurney, and Mort's hand on her wrist stopped her, gentle but implacable. "Please, be still. What is the meaning of this?"
"Look, Mort," Tru said, tugging fruitlessly at her wrist, "you're a really good guy, and I like you, but I don't have time to explain right now, okay, so please just let me go--"
"Miss Tru, if you please sit down--"
She gave her wrist one last yank, then gave up and shoved at his chest with her other hand. "Someone's gotta ask for my help!" she yelled.
Mort just stared at her. Then his face cleared.
"Ah," he said. "Why did you not say?"
Now'd be a good time, Fraser.
Benton blinked. That sounded like... Ray?
Ask. It wasn't his father anymore, it was a woman's voice. The fire woman.
Ask, the voice whispered again, only this time it sounded like Ray.
And then, like the rising wind of a storm, voices were swirling all around him: Ask. Ask. Ask for help.
He thought he heard his mother's voice.
No. This wasn't right. He wasn't supposed to be dead, and he couldn't stay dead out of spite. The universe would not countenance such a tremendous waste of life. There was, he knew, a reason in all things.
He tried, and this time, his mouth opened.
Tru gaped. "You-- holy shit, you-- you're--"
Mort regarded her with silent benevolence. A slight smile played around the corners of his mouth.
One question found its way past the mass of jumbled confusion that was her brain. "You know a guy named Davis?"
Mort opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, they were interrupted by the sound of a door banging open. "Trudence Davies!" came Welsh's roar.
"Oh hell," Tru said, looking around frantically. They were blocked from view of the door by a tall metal cabinet, but it wouldn't take Welsh long to find them.
"No time," Mort said, and started ripping sheets off gurneys.
After only a moment's hesitation, Tru joined in, working her way towards the other end of the back wall. She was only vaguely aware of Welsh's approaching footsteps. "Ask me," she whispered, as she passed each corpse. "Ask."
"Miss Davies," Welsh said, from not far behind her. "Would you care to explain why I just had to knock my best detective unconscious?"
She didn't look up. "Little busy right now."
"Miss Davies, please--"
"Lieutenant," Mort interrupted, and just for that moment Tru loved him more than she'd ever loved anyone. "Lieutenant, I have questions, I have something curious for you to see--"
"Later," Welsh said, in a voice that brooked no argument.
"Yes, but you must see this now, you must tell me--"
"Later, I said."
Tru reached the far wall and stopped, looking back over the line of uncovered corpses with dismay. She'd stopped at each body, and not one had asked for her help. She had the wild thought that maybe it only worked in Boston, maybe each city had its own crazy person reliving days and saving lives, and whoever was responsible for Chicago, it wouldn't work because she was stepping on their turf... but that was ridiculous, that was like some kind of bad movie, and never mind that her life was like some kind of bad movie, it just couldn't be true.
She wouldn't let it be true.
Welsh's heavy hand fell on her shoulder. "Miss Davies, come with me."
Tru sighed, then turned and looked him full in the face, clamping down on the hysteria that was threatening to rise in her throat. She could feel hot tears starting to prick at her eyes, but her voice was steady. "Look, I'm sorry, but this is so, so important. I can save Constable Fraser, I can bring him back, but you have to let me go, just give me five more minutes--"
Welsh's eyes narrowed. "Excuse me?" he asked, in a low, dangerous voice.
He wasn't going to listen, Tru realized, and felt something inside her crumple in defeat. She wanted to lay down on the floor and sob. He wasn't going to listen, the Mountie would stay dead, and finally, in the end, she would have failed Harrison after all--
And then, beyond Welsh, she saw the Mountie's head start to turn.
"Oh please," she said, ignoring Welsh's increasingly insistent inquiries, "oh please, oh please--"
And then the teenage girl on the gurney next to her shot out her hand and wrapped it around Tru's wrist, and she turned her head and whispered "Help me," and Tru watched the world fall away.
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