Forced Into The Habit
By Sharron Ibbitson
Rating: Probably R
Disclaimer: - The usual disclaimers apply, none of these characters belong to me. Ray, Fraser, Welsh and Frannie belong to Alliance and Eddie, John and Richard belong to Norstar Entertainment.
Minor spoilers for the end of 'Ladies Man'. Also this is partly based on the CKR film 'Men With Guns', if you haven't seen it, but are planning to, then this story gives away a lot of the film. So if you're not interested in a 'Men With Guns' fixit turn back now, here's some space so you don't read anything you don't want to. Also for the sake of this story 'Men With Guns' is in fact set in Chicago and not Canada.
Just a few words left to say. If Ray Vecchio could do it, then why not Ray Kowalski? They say we all have our doubles!
Many Thanks to my many beta readers including Meg, Jen, Maggie and any others that I have failed to mention, if I have left you out please mail me and I'll add you, as you all did a wonderful job and deserve an acknowledgement.
This story starts where 'Ladies Man' left off.
Forced into the Habit.
Fraser drove Ray straight home, and made sure that he went to bed immediately. He shook his head in worry as he walked back to the consulate.
The next day Ray looked slightly better, although he was quite pale. Fraser was walking across to him, but Frannie stepped in front of him. He was waiting for one of her flirtatious comments but instead she began questioning him.
"Frase is Ray okay?" she asked him.
"Um, I think he'll be fine, he's just had a bad time lately" he told her. She nodded and began walking towards Ray herself. His head was resting against his desk, and he looked up when he heard her footsteps approaching.
"Hey Ray. Are you okay?" she asked gently. He looked at her in amazement
"Yeah I'm fine. Thank You Frannie" he told her, he wasn't quite fine, but he was feeling better. It was at this point that Welsh poked his head around his office and called Ray. As Ray walked into the office Fraser and Frannie followed.
"Detective, feeling better I trust?" he asked genuinely. Ray nodded. "Good. I've got an assignment for you" he told him and when he noticed that he had Ray's full attention he continued. "It's a big drugs op" he continued when he saw Ray's eyes widen and Frannie's look of horror he continued with details. "Last night a well known addict John Mamet killed himself. Here's a picture" he passed a photograph towards Ray and all three gasped at the likeness to Ray. "As you can see you are perfect for the job. Mamet hangs out with two lowlifes Eddie and Richard. The three of them suited up a couple of days ago. Eddie and Richard went down to the farm and whilst there they whacked five people, while John waited outside. They also took possession of three kilos of coke which they began dealing in nightclubs. Last night John Mamet overdosed. You're here to take his place, are you up for that?" Ray nodded immediately. "Okay then you're going in tonight. You report to me every day at 5pm, you know all numbers. Anything goes down I wanna know about it okay?"
"Oh and Ray?"
"This is risky, be careful and watch your back" he told him, Ray nodded before leaving the room.
"Um sir? Do you think that this assignment is a good idea? I mean after everything that he's been through lately?" Fraser asked Welsh cautiously.
"Actually I believe that it's exactly what he needs. This could lead to a big promotion and a choice assignment. That's just what Kowalski is going to need when this is all over" Welsh told Fraser. Frannie remained quiet.
"I take it you don't agree Francesca?" Welsh asked her.
"I'm just worried about him that's all. I have one brother undercover, I don't need another one" she told him before walking off.
Ray went straight back to his apartment and got some spare clips for his gun. He changed into a ragged pair of jeans and an old shirt, he also got rid of his shoulder holster and instead tucked his handgun into his waistband. He didn't know why he had agreed to this assignment so promptly, that had been his mistake last time. Anyway at least this might do his career some good; with two good undercover assignments under his belt he might even get promotion. He shook his head; well at least it would get his mind off of Beth.
Ray then went back to the precinct to be briefed. He was quite concerned when Frannie practically leapt at him and enveloped him into a hug.
"Hey, hey what's wrong?" he asked her gently. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.
"You be careful Ray" she told him, and he smiled before nodding.
"I will Frannie. Don't worry, I'll be fine. You'll probably see me in a couple of days anyway, I have to report in regularly." Frannie smiled and gently kissed him on the lips. Ray stared at her in surprise then walked onto Welsh's office.
"You ready Detective?"
"Well here are your new 'friends'" Welsh told him handing him two photographs of Richard and Eddie. "That one's Eddie, he's the more dangerous of the two, vicious temper. You should be okay because you are one of them, but be weary of him" Welsh told him. Frannie looked less happy about the situation as more details were added. "You are due to report into me in three days time at 5pm, if you haven't been able to call or get here by 6pm be outside Lacey's and a squad car will arrest you for possession"
"Yes sir. Got it" Ray told him. He was hyped up ready to go now. Welsh handed him a slip of paper with various addresses on it. He explained to Ray what each address was and then wished him luck. Ray nodded then left to meet up with his new friends. As he was leaving the station he shook hands with Fraser and vowed that he would be careful, he gave Frannie a hug, then went on his way.
A day later Ray arrived at the dive with Richard and Eddie and the three of them went into the nightclub. Rich and Eddie had both fallen for Ray, believing him to be John. Ray was still rather nervous, but carrying off the deception well. He knew that they were going to be dealing when they arrived at the club. He continuously had to act as though he was high, which wasn't that easy for him because he had never been high in his life. As they entered the club he took in his surroundings, everybody was either doped up or drunk, he knew that at some point he would probably have to sell and take some of the coke, but he really wasn't looking forward to it.
They were at the club for two hours before they picked up some girls and headed back to the slum that Eddie and Richard referred to as home. He sat himself down in a corner and began to count the night's 'earnings'. A young woman sat down next to him. He handed her about five hundred dollars in cash, she began to count it.
"No put it away quickly before anybody sees" he told her, hoping that it may keep her off the streets for a week, if nothing else. Then somebody placed a packet of coke into his hand. He looked at it curiously, as Richard and Eddie were standing near him he did the only thing he could, he took it.
By the end of the night Ray had no idea what was happening, all around him people were smashing things to bits. He himself grabbed a baseball bat and began smashing up the contents of the kitchen.
The next morning, when Ray woke up Eddie was nowhere to be found. Richard crawled out of bed with a beautiful woman. That's who had woken Ray up, well the phone had rung earlier which had stirred him, but he hadn't answered it.
"I've gotta go to that meeting remember?" Rich was saying to him, he looked at him blankly. "The meeting"
"Oh yeah the meeting" Ray repeated, he looked at the woman. "He has to go to a meeting" he told her. She told him something about her own meeting "Wish I had a meeting to go to" he told her. She smiled up at him, before leaving to take her child to the zoo.
Now he was alone, he rubbed his hands over his face. He couldn't believe what he had done. He had drunk too much, taken drugs and smoked. He had done everything he was against and had tried so hard to avoid doing. He felt like banging his head against a brick wall. He was all alone in the slum and needed to talk to Fraser. He picked up the phone; he didn't know what he was going to say to him, he just had to hear his voice. He shakily dialled in the number and was relieved when Ben answered.
"Canadian consulate, Constable Benton Fraser speaking" said the familiar voice, when he received no reply he repeated himself.
"Canadian Consulate, Constable Benton Fraser speaking"
"Fraser" Ray whispered.
The phone was ringing and Turnbull was nowhere to be found so Fraser went to answer the phone himself.
"Canadian Consulate, Constable Benton Fraser speaking" he said politely, when he heard no response he repeated himself.
"Canadian Consulate, Constable Benton Fraser speaking"
"Fraser" came the familiar voice of his friend and partner.
"Ray?" he questioned, concern and worry etched all over his face. His partner was meant to be undercover, he knew something must be wrong for Ray to call him.
"Fraser. Please. Please will you be at the precinct around five tonight. I um have to meet the lieutenant there, so will you be there?" Ray asked nervously. Fraser nodded before replying.
"Yeah, yeah of course I'll be there Ray" he replied.
"Thanks" Ray responded before promptly placing the phone down. As soon as the call had been terminated, Fraser picked up his hat and left the consulate to go and visit Lieutenant Welsh at the precinct to discuss Ray.
Fraser walked straight into Welsh's office, when he got to the precinct. He was very concerned for his friend after the rather cryptic phone call. Welsh looked up when he saw him enter and indicated for him to take a seat.
"What is it Fraser?" he asked.
"I received a phone call from detective Vecchio a few moments ago" Fraser informed the superior officer.
"But he's undercover. What did he say?" he asked his own concern showing in his voice.
"Nothing he did seem rather distressed though. All he did was ask if I could meet him at the precinct at 5 tonight, then he hung up" Fraser told him. Welsh rubbed his face in concentration.
"Well all we can do is sit and wait" Welsh summed up as Frannie walked into the office.
"Hi, is it okay if I stick around tonight, I want to see Ray" she told them. Fraser and Welsh exchanged looks in surprise; both amazed about her concern and compassion. "Look he's my brother and I just wanna make sure he's all right" she continued angrily.
"Okay Ms Vecchio, you can wait to see your brother, he's due in thirty minutes anyway" Welsh replied after looking at his watch. He was fairly worried about the detective himself.
Meanwhile Ray was rubbing his hands over his bloodshot eyes, as he stared at himself in the mirror. He looked and felt like a junkie. His mind was whirling with images and bright colours. He had no idea what he was doing anymore. He decided to go for a drink. He knew a bar not far from where he was staying. He grabbed his coat and some instinct took over and he grabbed his gun. He walked the streets alone until he got to Lacey's bar. He immediately ordered a scotch and sat down.
It was nearly six and Ray hadn't shown, Welsh was getting worried and Frannie was already pacing the floor and biting her nails with worry. Welsh drew the line and sent in the car to pick Ray up at the bar. The officer had been briefed, so he knew Ray would be carrying a weapon, but he was allowed to keep it.
Ray had had a lot to drink, and felt no better for it, he just felt worse. It was only 6:15, but Ray had had enough, so he set off for home. He stepped outside the bar and was amazed when two police officers grabbed an arm each and started reading him his Miranda rights and ushering him into a squad car. Next he heard them utter into a radio.
"We've got him sir" He had no idea what was going on, but didn't say a word, he simply rested his head against the seat and let the same haunting thoughts run through his mind. He was jogged out of his thoughts by the car coming to a stop. "Come on detective we're here, sorry about the cuffs" the officer told him, he hadn't even noticed the handcuffs. He was lead through the station; he caught some glances of recognition, but mostly people knew about the operation, so just ignored him. He was lead straight through to an interview room, where the cuffs were removed. Ray sat down gingerly and rested his head in his hands, as he perched his elbows on the table. His eyes were sore and he knew he must look terrible. Fraser will know what I've done, he thought, but realised that he didn't care. His peace was interrupted by a hand resting on his shoulder. He expected to see his boss, but as he turned round was faced with his pretend sister Francesca Vecchio.
"Hey Frannie" he muttered his voice weak. He noticed she had tears in her eyes. "Do I look that bad?" he asked, trying to summon his trademark grin, but failing miserably. She just wrapped her arms around him, revelling in his touch.
"No you look just perfect to me. I've been so worried about you. Are you okay?" she asked. He wasn't, but he answered to the affirmative none the less. She nodded, and he knew she hadn't accepted his answer, but nodded and smiled anyway. Their little discussion was interrupted by Fraser and Welsh entering the little room. Welsh immediately took in Ray's appearance, and seriously regretted his decision to send Ray undercover.
"Detective are you all right?" he asked, and Ray nodded. "Don't bullshit, I know you're not okay you look terrible. I'm sorry I shouldn't have forced you into this. I want you to get out as soon as you can okay?"
"Yes sir" Ray muttered quietly, just wanting to leave and get the assignment over and done with.
"Now tell me what's been going on" Welsh continued, Frannie and Fraser remained in the room, both anxious to hear what had been happening to their friend. They were all amazed when Ray pulled out a packet of cigarettes and lit one with shaking hands. He just sat and smoked for a moment before beginning to explain.
"Not a lot is going on, The drugs were taken from someone called Mickey Burke. Eddie and Richard have only been selling them on in clubs and stuff. Someone called Kevin has offered to sell them on in bulk, Eddie's keen to go with it. Apart from that, that's it" Ray informed them.
"Right you're doing well."
"How did you get out of having to take them?" Frannie asked, and Ray winced at the question.
"Well most of the time I bluffed, but it hasn't always been an option" Ray told them, looking down, ashamed.
"You mean you had to take it?" Frannie asked, and Ray nodded, expecting condemnation, he was amazed when he got the opposite. "Oh you poor thing, are you okay?" Frannie asked surprising him with her concern. He nodded.
"I don't know how much longer I can do this" he whispered, hoping his friends would understand. Welsh nodded, and squeezed his shoulder to offer his support.
"Just hang in there a little while longer" he told the younger detective. Ray nodded and shakily rose to his feet, leaving the precinct to go back to the slum. Francesca watched him, her concern only worsened. She had never seen him smoke, so she was sure that the stress was really getting to him. The three remained in the room, in silence for quite a while after Ray had left. Welsh felt guilty for the situation his friend and detective was in. Frannie and Fraser were just worried for Ray; both fearing something serious was going to happen.
"When is he next due to check in?" Fraser asked quietly.
"Day after tomorrow" Welsh replied, it was all Frannie could take.
"I suppose you're happy now" she spat at Welsh. "You've practically turned him into a drug addict, and alcoholic and to top it all off he now smokes" Frannie said angrily, her worry evident.
"He smoked before" Welsh muttered.
"What?" Frannie asked, and Fraser placed a hand gently on her shoulder hoping to calm her.
"He smoked for years from when he was about twenty, used to drink a lot aswell" he told her. "He got himself in a lot of trouble, nothing serious just kids stuff. Used to get in fights and stuff, that's why he doesn't drink anymore" he told her.
"How do you know sir?" Fraser prompted gently.
"Because I've known the kid since he was thirteen or so. Since I became a cop. When he was young his father lost him in this funfair or something. Barbara was frantic, so she called the police. Damian was and still is a hard arse; he seemed like he didn't care. I eventually found young Ray hiding under a slide or something; he had hidden because he was scared his father was going to hit him. It turns out he had 'borrowed' some money from his old man's wallet to buy a can of drink, and Damian had gone nuts at him, so Ray did a runner. Poor kid looked so scared. Barbara was so relieved to have him back he got away with it, and to thank me they invited me to dinner. I just felt sorry for the kid so I started taking him fishing and stuff. The next year he told me he was in love. This girl Stella, she was one of the richer kids; so he thought she was untouchable. They were in a bank and some guy robbed the place. He grabbed Stella and held her, Ray peed himself so she could get away, and from then on they were inseparable" Fraser didn't say anything about the true cause of events, as he didn't know if Ray would want anyone else to know. "His father wanted him to go to college so he wouldn't end up working in a factory like him. He got given a student grant, so he studied. The first few months he worked hard, then he just seemed to lose interest. He changed, he started drinking, I don't know what happened and he never told me, but he just kept drinking. Eventually he got in a major fight, he was in hospital for a few weeks, and as far as I know hasn't been drunk since. Anyway soon after that he decided that he wanted to leave college and join the force, his heart juts wasn't in learning anymore. Of course his father blamed me, he said that he didn't want me to see his son anymore. I tried but everytime Ray talked to me Damian would go mad. He was an adult but was still treated like a kid. Anyway Ray passed the academy and did very well on his first few cases, passed the detectives exam in almost record time and has taken part in a number of undercover operations since. It's kinda like his speciality. I kept my word and didn't talk to him, but when Vecchio went undercover, I had to draft Ray in. I kinda missed him, we were so close for so long, and I hadn't been able to speak to him for so many years, so I did it. I got him the assignment. He's good at his job and puts his heart and soul into it." Welsh continued hardly pausing for breath. All of this came as a complete shock to Fraser and Frannie "I didn't want to give him the drugs op, it came from the top, just like it did for Vecchio and the mob thing. This is not my doing and if there had been any way for me to stop it I would have. So, no Ms Vecchio I am not happy with the situation" he summed up before storming out of the room. Frannie and Fraser just stood there speechless. Fraser was a little hurt that Ray hadn't told him, but he was more worried than anything. Welsh had said that Ray had turned to alcohol after a traumatic event, he was concerned that the same may happen again. Frannie was just speechless, which in itself was unusual for her. She was confused as much as anything. Why did she feel this way about Ray? He was after all only pretending to be her brother. She knew that her feelings for him had developed, but she also knew that she could never allow her feelings to become public knowledge, she just hoped that Ray would live long enough for her to tell him.
Ray made his way back to the slum, known as home, and went straight to bed, overcome with exhaustion. He pulled his shirt off and literally flopped down on the bed. The next thing he knew Eddie was looming over him asking something about Rich. He searched his brain to remember the girl's name.
"Lucy" he mumbled, praying he had got the right name he then repeated himself louder. A packet of white powder was placed in his hand and this time he didn't hesitate he just grabbed his lighter, pulled on his clothes and began putting his boots on. The phone was ringing and then Eddie was shouting something about THEM having Rich. As they drove towards Kevin's place Eddie filled him in on his meeting with a cop and the deal. As Eddie went into Kevin's house ahead of him Ray pulled out his phone and rung Welsh. Frannie picked up the phone, even through his drug induced state he recognised the urgency of his information and knew he didn't have long.
"Frannie pass me onto Welsh" he told her urgently.
"Ray is that you?" she asked and all around her went silent.
"Yeah, it's me, look I really need to speak to Welsh" he repeated, looking at his watch.
"He's in a meeting do ya want me to go and get him?" she asked with concern.
"Look Frannie I don't have time just tell him a cop's involved. Narcotic Division, he's bent. Burke's gang have grabbed Rich and Eddie is planning on going to the rescue, we're at Kevin's place Welsh has the address. We're getting info to where Rich is, then we're going there to grab him. Tell Welsh that this is over in an hour, and to have backup standing by" Ray told her quickly and urgently. She nodded as she wrote it all down on her notepad.
"Okay Ray I'll tell him. Oh and Ray be careful" she told him he said goodbye before hanging up and going into the house. He followed Eddie into the youngster's bedroom, and hoped that this wouldn't turn into a bloodbath. Eddie fired a shot to grab the kid's attention, and it worked, the kid started talking naming a warehouse as the place to find Rich. Ray saw that Eddie was about to kill the kid, even though he was high he couldn't watch him do it, he pulled Eddie's arm away and prevented him from killing the kid. Eddie went straight to the car, Ray feigned going to the toilet, Eddie just assumed that Mamet was going to take some more coke. Ray went and phoned Welsh again, this time Welsh himself answered the phone. Ray relayed the address and Welsh got on it straight away. Ray was high, and he didn't like the feeling of being out of control. He hadn't had a choice in taking the white substance, but it didn't mean he had to like it. He sat in the car as Eddie drove them to this large building, that he had never seen before.
Back at the precinct Welsh drew his men together, he knew that he had to get to Ray as soon as possible, as his detective was in a dangerous position. He issued each officer a bullet proof vest and made sure that each of them put it on, he remembered Fraser at the last minute and watched as the Mountie hesitated, then pulled on the vest as required before Welsh would allow him to accompany them on the op. Frannie kept fidgeting in concern. As a civilian she wasn't allowed to tag along, even though she had begged the lieutenant to allow her, she knew he was right.
Meanwhile Eddie was asking Ray if he was okay to do this, Ray didn't hear many of his words, but managed to get the general idea.
"Are you good?" Eddie questioned.
"I'm good" Ray replied and was shocked by the way his voice sounded. They got out of the car, and Ray grabbed the bag with the coke in it, and pulled his gun from his belt. As they were walking he dropped his gun, he bent down to pick it up, but Eddie was on him straight away. He grabbed him by his coat shaking him.
"Are you good or are you useless?" he asked viciously.
"I'm good" Ray replied again, Eddie grabbed the bag, and told Ray to watch his back. That sounded kinda cool to Ray in his current state. Fraser couldn't carry a gun so he never got to say Cover me, or asked to watch Fraser's back. Eddie was asking something about how to get in.
"Try the fucking door" Ray replied. They entered the building with Eddie ahead of Ray, Eddie had climbed the first two flights of stairs before Ray was through the door. He heard Eddie say something and saw he was talking to a kid, but it still surprised him when the kid ran passed him. He kept on climbing once Eddie had reached the top. He decided to have a bit of fun, so he whistled lowly, Eddie turned round and Ray dived onto the top step, they mimed shooting and Ray pretended to die, before holding up his fingers and counting to three. When he hit three Eddie knocked on the door.
"Who is it?" came from the other side. Eddie coughed.
"It's me man, open the door" Eddie replied still coughing to disguise his voice.
"Who's me?" the man on the other side asked, at this point Eddie kicked the door open, and shot one round through the other man's chest at point blank range, he was amazed when the man continued to struggle and put up a fight.
Ray remembered that back up would be arriving at any minute, and prayed that they would hurry. He took a deep breath then run into the room, seeing the man on top of Eddie, he placed his gun at the side of the man's chest and fired twice, he was gratified when the struggling stopped, he then noticed another man across the room reaching for a gun, and he leapt at him. Within seconds he found a gun pointing at his face, he knew it was either shoot or be shot, so he turned his face away and shot three times. He nearly heaved as the blood splattered on his face and he saw lifeless eyes staring back at him, but he didn't have time to react as yet another man came at him, this time he fired once and the man went down. Instinct took over and he checked all round for any more threats, before leaning back against the nearest wall. Eddie was grinning at him.
"You're on my back man" he told him, and Ray tried to grin in return, to keep up the cover, but just couldn't. He had killed people, he had spent so long trying to get Beth Botreille away from the death sentence, and now he had killed with his own hands. If that is what backing up your friend meant then he was glad Fraser didn't carry a gun. He looked down at his own weapon and then went to hold it up to his head. All the pain could go away if he just ended it all here and now. His thoughts were interrupted when a gun shot went off and he felt a hot sting across his chest, he turned to try to see who had shot him, he discovered that the last man he shot hadn't been dead after all. He turned his gaze to Eddie, and saw him let two rounds off square into the other man's chest, the Eddie was walking towards him.
"Jesus Mamet" he stated, and Ray knew it was bad, his entire body ached, and his shirt was covered in hot sticky blood, he pulled Eddie towards him.
"Go get Rich" he told him before succumbing to the darkness.
Welsh and the CPD had just pulled up outside the building when they heard gunfire, not just one shot but several. It sounded like an almighty gun fight was going on. They were just about to go straight in when Fraser noticed a car pull up. Mickey Burke stepped out, he ordered Huey and Dewey to follow them. Mickey and a younger man went straight into the building and headed for the elevator. Huey watched what floor they pressed and the two Detectives ran up the stairs, they were alarmed when they heard another shot being fired. They watched from a distance as the two lads walked out. The larger one, Eddie was dragging a bleeding Rich. Mickey Burke's associate had pulled a gun and was aiming it at the two boys. While Mickey was trying to diffuse the situation. The four of them got back into the elevator and the detectives followed by stairs all the while telling Welsh what was happening. The lieutenant was concerned, as were Huey and Dewey, that so far there had been no sight of Ray. As the group got out of the elevator and Eddie pointed in the direction of a bag, the situation seemed to be in control, but then Mickey's friend fired at Eddie and hit him in the stomach, then out of nowhere, Mickey and his associate were shot, and fell to the ground. Out of the shadows stepped a man in a suit. Huey and Dewey decided it was time to act so they pulled their weapons.
"Stop Police, kiss the dirt" they screamed simultaneously, and the man turned shocked eyes on them, but complied none the less. They searched him and anger filled them when they discovered that he was a cop. As all prisoners were secured in the cars the search for Ray heightened. By this time Frannie had arrived on the scene, as Welsh had deemed it safe.
It seemed like an eternity, but less than ten minutes had passed. Fraser suggested that they commence the search at the offices, so he Welsh, Huey, Dewey and Francesca climbed the stairs, they were shocked by what they found, there was blood and bodies everywhere. Frannie gasped when she saw Ray slouched against a wall, covered in blood. She grabbed Fraser's arm and pointed, he too gasped. Welsh noticed and looked as well, he was the first to react. He walked across to his fallen detective, and nearly gagged when he saw the wound. He placed his shaking fingers to his detective's neck, and held his breath. He was relieved when he found a faint pulse. He released the breath and immediately ordered Huey to go and get the ambulance. He took Ray's head in his lap, and Frannie and Fraser walked towards them Fraser pulled off his coat and pushed down on Ray's wound, Kowalski stirred slightly as he felt more pain, Frannie reached forward and took his hand.
"Ray? Ray can you hear me?" She said clearly to the man she was falling in love with. He didn't move. "Ray please just open your eyes for me" she saw no reaction, but his hand did squeeze hers slightly, she looked up at Welsh who had noticed the slight movement. She turned her attention back to Ray, who's eyes were barely flickering open. He seemed disorientated, in his semi conscious state. He started trying to sit up, but the sharp pain in his chest stopped that idea.
"Ray? Can you hear me?" he didn't answer, but he stirred slightly more, before Frannie could continue the paramedics were there. One pulled Fraser's coat gently from under his hand, she then cut away Ray's shirt to reveal a nasty blood oozing wound. She gasped at the severity of the wound, placed a pressure bandaged on it and replaced Fraser's hand, she then attached Ray to a blood pressure cuff and started noting down what she discovered. Meanwhile the other paramedic had placed an oxygen mask over Ray's face and was holding a stethoscope to his chest, he shook his head then wrote the results down on his clipboard. The two paramedics then placed Ray gently onto a stretcher and wheeled him down to the ambulance, where a crowd of 27th officers were waiting for news on their friend. Fraser insisted on travelling with Ray. He hoped he could offer some comfort despite the fact that Ray was unconscious. He held tightly onto his friend's hand. Ray didn't even stir. Fraser looked down at his friend, and tried to blink back his tears. The paramedics were still working on him, constantly reporting back to the hospital with details on his heart rate and blood pressure. Fraser, couldn't take his eyes off of his friend, even as Ray's heart flat lined, he just kept staring. As the paramedic began heart massage, Fraser just kept staring. As the monitor indicated that Ray was holding his own Fraser kept staring, but released a breath he hadn't realised he was holding. This time he couldn't stop the tears from falling, even as he clutched his friend's hand. When they pulled up at the hospital, he walked alongside Ray, still holding on. It wasn't until a nurse came along and disengaged them that he let go. He was then directed to a chair and a cup of coffee was placed in his hand. He looked up and saw Lieutenant Welsh looming over him.
"Any news?" Welsh asked gently, and Fraser just shook his head. "I called his folks. They're pissed, blaming me"
"Are they coming?" Fraser asked, finally finding his voice.
"Yeah, they're on their way. I just hope Ray can hold on" Welsh replied, his voice cracking with the words. Fraser nodded, hoping that his friend would pull through. His thoughts were interrupted by Frannie's appearance, as his listed next of kin she was able to find out more information than anyone else.
"Well?" Welsh asked, his concern growing by the solemn look on her face.
"He's in surgery. They aren't sure, but the bullet may have nicked his heart, which would explain all the blood" she informed them in a monotone. Fraser just stared at her in shock, knowing that his friend was in grave danger, and there was nothing he could do to help him. He sat back down on his designated seat, and sagged back against the wall, pulling his hands across his face. Frannie sat down next to him, and the three friends waited. It seemed like an eternity before the doctor emerged from the OR, it had in fact been close to four hours. The doctor was still in his scrubs and blood was stained across them.
"Are you here for detective Vecchio?" he asked them. They all nodded simultaneously. "Well he came through the surgery, I have to tell you it was very close. We nearly lost him twice, but at the moment he is critical but stable. He has lost a lot of blood, there may be more damage, but we just won't know until he comes round. At the moment I have decided to keep him sedated to allow his body time to heal."
"Can we see him?" Frannie asked once she had found her voice.
"He's in recovery at the moment, but I'll see what I can arrange when he is transferred to the CCU" He informed them. Just as the doctor walked away, Welsh heard the footsteps of the Kowalskis' approaching. As soon as he noticed them he came to his feet. He nodded in their direction and waited for a reply. All he got was a cold glance from Damian, and a slight acknowledgement. Both parents then turned to Fraser.
"How is he?" Barbara asked with a worried voice. Fraser looked to Welsh before replying.
"He made it through the surgery, we don't know anymore. The doctor didn't say much else" Fraser informed them in a monotone. He didn't fully blame them for their feelings, after all they had believed that they were looking out for their son's best interest, but he also felt for his friend. Welsh felt a great deal for Ray, he thought of the younger man as a son and by not being able to see him for so long, it had broken his heart. Welsh just sat down dejectedly, and waited to be told when he could go and see his surrogate son. Fraser sat next to him, and Frannie's head rested against Welsh's other shoulder. The three sat in silence whilst the Kowalskis went off in search of the doctor for news on their son. It seemed like forever before the doctor allowed them to file into Ray's room, and even then it was only two at a time. Frannie and Barbara were both distraught about Ray's condition. The doctor was pretty sure that he would make it, but he looked so pale and weak that it did not do much to ease their minds. Damian stood outside the room until Frannie left. Barbara followed Frannie out, only then did Damian see his son. He looked up as Welsh entered, the room, but didn't acknowledge his presence. Welsh looked at the detective and tried to prevent himself from losing control in front of the man that had once been his best friend. He held out his shaking hand and tightly grasped his detective's hand. It felt cold to the touch, which worried Welsh even more. He lowered himself down into a nearby chair. The two men stood in silence watching over their son. It didn't matter that only one of them had the same DNA as in their hearts they loved him in the same way. Eventually Damian broke the silence.
"I don't care what you say, I hold you responsible" Damian muttered, without conviction.
"I thought you would, but to be honest I don't care what you think. All I care about is Ray, all I care about is him making a full recovery. I don't give a damn what you think of me. All I know is that your son is a damn fine cop, and because of him many kids will now live a lot longer, and many parents can sleep soundly in their beds at night, with the thoughts that a lot of drugs have been taken off of the street. I also know that you're wasting his life by being angry at him and me for doing a job that he loves and is damn good at, just because your too stubborn to admit that you're proud of him. Now he's laying there all shot up, not certain of living till tomorrow, and all you're doing in wasting time by arguing with me instead of thinking about what a good man your son has turned into. So if you really want to blame me you go right ahead, but I suggest you stop looking for someone to blame and redirect all that energy to somewhere it may do more good, maybe into telling your son that you are proud of him and showing him you love him" Welsh responded, his voice gradually rising, then he left the room. Damian sat back down and stared at his son, he did love his son, but he hated the fact that he was a cop. He loved him and he was very proud of him, but why was it so hard to say? He took a deep breath and clutched his son's hand, a million thoughts rushing through his mind, but he was unable to put any of them into words.
Later that night Frannie returned to visit Ray. She entered the room quietly and was shocked to see that Damian was still sitting beside the bed. She walked up to him and gently placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Mr Kowalski?" she questioned quietly hoping to get his attention. He looked up after a while. "Mr Kowalski, you need your rest too" she told him gently.
"I should be here with my son. I've let him down enough" he told her. She stood shocked for a moment before responding. She didn't know Damian very well, but knew that he wasn't one to speak his emotions out loud.
"Sir, you need to help Ray, and to help Ray you need to stay strong. Now why don't you go back to your hotel and have some sleep. Make sure that Mrs Kowalski is all right. Then when you're both rested you can come back and visit Ray again" Frannie told him reasonably. Damian nodded once then rose from his seat. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on his son's forehead, gently run his fingers through his hair, then he left the hospital. Frannie sat down in the seat that Damian had recently vacated. She took Ray's hand into her own, and gently stroked his cheek. He looked so peaceful, but she knew that inside his body was at war with itself, fighting to keep going. He looked a lot younger in his sleep, especially younger than he had for the last few days. The worry and stress lines around his eyes were no longer visible. But she knew that when he regained consciousness and continued his struggle to live, they would once again show etched into his face. She knew that it would be days before he awoke. He had lost so much blood and had come so close to dying that his body needed rest to recover so the doctor had decided to keep him sedated for a while to prevent further injury. She rested her head against his arm, and allowed his breathing to lull her to sleep. The next thing she knew someone was shaking her arm and calling her name. She looked up and saw Fraser hovering over her. She shook her head to clear it.
"What time is it?" she asked.
"One am" he replied. "How long have you been here?" he asked
"I don't know I got here about seven I think. But I wasn't here long before I fell asleep" she informed him. He nodded.
"Frannie you should go and get some sleep, I'd like to spend some time with Ray" he told her. She nodded understanding that Fraser wanted to be alone with his friend. She kissed Ray gently then left the room. "Thank you kindly Francesca" Fraser told her before she left. She nodded then continued to leave. Fraser looked down at the man, who in standing in for his best friend had himself become his best friend. Fraser hated to see Ray looking so still, in his wakefulness he was always so active never sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time. Dark bruises covered most of the right side of Ray's face, Fraser guessed they had happened as he had fallen. Ray's entire chest was encased in stark white bandages and wires. It almost broke Fraser's heart to see his friend like that. The only thing that kept Fraser going was that the doctors had told him that Ray would make a full recovery giving the right time, rest and treatment. Fraser knew that Ray would recover physically, but mentally and emotionally it may be a different matter. Fraser sat by the side of his friend for quite some time, just staring at his friend's face. He would do anything that he possibly could to ensure that his friend recovered fully. He knew that it would take a long time to get him over his ordeal, but he also knew that Ray would have many people standing by to help him.
The next morning Welsh arrived early to visit his friend. Fraser had left a couple of hours earlier, and Welsh was glad to have some time alone with Ray. He pulled up the seat next to him, had a last look around to ensure that nobody was standing near. He pulled Ray's hand into his own, and began talking to him. He wasn't sure if he would be able to hear him or not, but he spoke to him anyway.
"Ray, I'm not sure if you can hear me or not, but I need to say this anyway. I'm so sorry that this happened to you, you should never have been placed in that situation. I want you to know that the orders didn't come from me, they came from well over my head, but I still feel responsible. I am very sorry. You know that I love ya kid, and I never want to see you hurt ever. I wish I could have been with you more when you were growing up, but Damian would never let me. You have to know that I'm gonna help you in any way I can, and as soon as all of this is over we're gonna stay in touch. Even when Ray gets back, I'm gonna make sure you're okay. You play a very important part in my life, and I love you like my own. Ah I know that sometimes you're as pigheaded as your father, but you're a good man and a great detective, and I am so proud of you. I must say it's a lot easier to talk to you when you can't answer back, I just hope you can hear me, because I think that it's important that you know. I'm sorry that me and your Dad don't get on, and I really wish that things were different. I like your old man, I just wish that he didn't hold all of this against me. Maybe someday we'll make up and then you and me can spend time together outside of work, would you like that?" Welsh told the unconscious detective, not really expecting an answer. Meanwhile behind him Damian turned and left the room.
When Damian returned later in the morning, Welsh had gone. Damian had finally gathered the courage to talk to the man, and he was nowhere to be found. He went into his son's room and took up the much used chair. He hesitated before making contact with his son, by placing Ray's hand over his own. He coughed before actually speaking.
"Well son, I know we haven't always got on, and haven't always been on speaking terms with each other, but you know I love you. I mean we may not have always agreed on each others ideas, but when push comes to shove you're my son and I love you. I know you don't believe this, but I am proud of you. You make this city a safer place to live for everybody, and I do feel proud of you for that. I may not say it often, but in many ways I'm glad that you became a police officer, as you're damn good at it, and as far as I know you're happy. So I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything that I said and did in the past" Damian told his coma ridden son, and tried to prevent his own tears from falling.
Two days later, and it had been a week since Ray's shooting. The doctor had decided that it was time to allow Ray to awaken. It was a nervous day for all around, as Ray was certainly going to be fighting confusion and depression. The doctor warned them that they had to be very careful, as he would be very nervy and confused, but nevertheless they were all happy that they were going to see Ray awake. The doctor came in early in the morning to see how his patient was getting off. The does of sedative had already been reduced, so Ray was just on the verge of coming round. Frannie, Fraser, The Kowalskis, Welsh and Dief all stood in his room, awaiting the slightest movement. Frannie sat just staring at his face. It was for this reason that she was the first to notice his long eyelashes fluttering open. She immediately rose and pressed the call button to summon the doctor. The others noticed her sharp movements and all crowded around the bed.
"Ray, Ray can you hear me?" Frannie asked him gently, and signalled the others to take a step back, so that he didn't panic when he woke up. At last his eyes sprung open, and it seemed to take all of his energy just to open his eyes. "Ray, it's me Frannie can you answer me?" she whispered, so only he could hear. He turned to look at her and blinked his eyes a few times, as though he was trying to focus.
"Frannie?" he whispered after a moment, and everybody in the room breathed a sigh of relief. He raised his free arm to his head, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. It was at this point that the doctor came into the room.
"Ah Mr Vecchio, I see you're back with us" he too spoke quietly as his patient battled to stay awake. "Now I'm just going to examine you, then you can go back to sleep okay?" he asked quietly. Ray nodded slightly. Frannie took a step back, but Ray wouldn't release her arm, she looked questioningly at the doctor, who signalled that she could stay, before ushering the others out of the room. Ray had closed his eyes in what seemed like pain, or maybe he was trying to block out bad memories, Frannie wasn't sure. The doctor was asking Ray questions in hushed tones, Ray only answered in single syllable words. He spoke so quietly that even Frannie couldn't hear him, and she was standing next to him. He winced every time he tried to move, and Frannie felt every pain with him. The doctor summed up quickly, making notes all the while. He went to exit the room, and motioned Frannie to follow. She followed the doctor into the relative's room, where the other friends were waiting for news. They all rose to their feet when they saw the doctor, he told them to sit, and as one they returned to their seats. Welsh was the first to speak.
"Well how is he?" he asked with his worry and concern evident in his tone.
"Well Mr Vecchio has gone through a massive trauma, and it is far from over. He lost a lot of blood, which makes him still very weak. He's in a lot of pain both physically and emotionally, and not all of that pain can be easily mended. He's very tired and will suffer from depression, but he is on the way to recover, and we're confident that he'll make a full recovery with a lot of love and support." The doctor concluded and everyone concerned breathed a sigh of relief.
"Is he still awake?" Fraser asked after a while, when the doctor nodded to the affirmative Fraser continued "May I see him please" The doctor considered this for a moment before replying.
"Yes but only for a few moments. He needs his rest" Fraser nodded.
"Thank you kindly" he acknowledged Frannie before leaving to visit his best friend. He walked quietly into the room and pulled up his seat next to his friend. He just stared at Ray for a moment before, he even noticed that he was there. As soon as he realised that he was no longer alone Ray turned his head towards Fraser.
"Hi" Fraser whispered.
"Hey" Ray replied weakly, shocking himself with the lack of strength in his voice. He winced as he tried to move.
"How do you feel?" Fraser asked trying desperately to think of something to say.
"Like I was shot. It hurts like hell Fraser. I'm sorry man" Ray rambled at his friend.
"What are you sorry for?"
"I let you down, I let the whole division down. I left myself open and I got shot. To make matters worse I killed people" Ray told Fraser, he was bordering on hysteria, and by the time he had finished tears were streaming down his face. Fraser hadn't realised that Ray had been forced to kill people, but knew that it would show on the Closed Circuit television that had been operating in the office.
"Ray, I have to go soon, you should rest, but before I go I want you to know that you did nothing wrong. I'm sure that it was in self defence and the tapes will prove it" Fraser told his friend, knowing that he wouldn't accept it, but he needed to say something. He squeezed Ray's hand once more before leaving the room in search of the others. He managed to find them all in the same place, but he took Welsh to one side to discuss in private.
"What's the matter Constable?" he asked.
"Ray killed those men. We need to watch the CCTV tapes" Fraser told the lieutenant. Welsh gasped before contacting Huey to bring him the relevant tapes. Huey hurried, recognising the urgency of the situation, although he and Ray didn't really know each other that well, he did like the younger man and was concerned for him. Welsh had only been sitting down for half an hour when Huey returned with the tapes. He handed straight to Welsh and the two of them collected Fraser before hunting down a VCR. They eventually found one in a nurse's office. They shut the door, each pulled up a chair and inserted the tape. They watched in silence as Ray entered the room, he immediately put bullets into the man lying on top of Eddie. Then went on to shoot another man. This shooting was very clear cut as the other man was also holding a gun in Ray's face, and then a third man came round the corner and Ray was forced to shoot him. Welsh rubbed his hands over his face, realising the implications of his officer's actions. What shocked Welsh the most was what he saw next. Ray seemed to sway for a moment, before leaning against the nearest wall, he looked dazed and shocked. Eddie was talking to him about something, then Eddie's eyes went wide with shock as Ray pulled the gun up to his head and was about to pull the trigger when a movement to his side caught his attention and a bullet ripped through him.
"Holy Shit" Welsh muttered, now even more concerned about his friend. Ray had been about to kill himself. "Thank God he got shot" Welsh whispered.
"What?" Fraser asked, not believing his ears.
"Think about it constable. If Ray hadn't of been shot then he would have killed himself." Welsh explained. Fraser nodded in understanding, but he was still very worried about his friend. Fraser made his excuses, then he walked back to Ray's room. When he got there Ray was sound asleep, the only movement being agitated motions in his sleep. Damian Kowalski was sitting beside his son, he seemed to be in deep thought.
"Would you like me to leave?" he asked the older man.
"No Benton, I think you should stay. Sorry I didn't notice you standing there. You've been a good friend to my son, and I thank you for it" Fraser looked on in astonishment.
"I'm not the only one though sir" Fraser told him.
"Yes I know. Francesca out there has been good to him. She seems like a nice girl. It would do Raymond some good to try his luck there" Damian continued with a chuckle.
"And there's Lieutenant Welsh sir" Fraser ventured, trying to gauge the other man's reaction.
"Yes Harding. It's his fault that my son became a cop. He was always playing with the boy, taking him fishing and to funfairs. Ray used to rant and rave about how great he was, he never shut up about him. Anyway I scraped enough money together to send Ray to college. He wasn't dumb, but he had to be motivated to succeed. He was a good boy. He knuckled down and worked hard in college. Harding still kept in touch with the whole family. Used to come round for dinner once a week, he'd still take Ray places, but you know what older kids are like. Ray was at that age where nothing was right. He wasn't really a difficult teenager that is until it happened. He was nineteen and working well at college. He was doing fine. He and Stella had been going steady for quite a while and it was all very stable. Then one night he went to this bar with some friends. Something happened to him while he was there, but he would never tell me what had happened. I asked Harding to talk to him, but he never told me what was said. I never forgave him for not telling me what was going on with my own son"
"Lieutenant Welsh was never told sir. Ray wouldn't open up to him either" Fraser told him.
"You mean Ray never told him either?" Damian asked incredulously.
"Shit. I've been mad at him for so long over something that never happened. It just made it worse when Ray joined the force. Ray was drinking way too much. He was smoking and going to bars all over the place. He was quiet and brooding. He was falling behind at college. He changed so much, his mother was so worried about him. I was so worried about him. Harding tried to talk to him, but to no avail. We all loved us so much, but he had built a wall around himself and no one could get through it. Occasionally Stella was allowed to see over the top, but no one could penetrate those defences. He got more and more into fighting and even took up boxing. He got pretty good aswell, until Stella got him to give up. I loved Stella like my own, but she always had Ray twisted round her little finger. Ray could really have made something of himself with his boxing, and I resented her for making him quit. Then he joined the force and I had more to hold against Harding, despite the fact he had tried to talk Ray out of it. I suppose it's easier to be angry at other people than to accept the truth. Ray still hadn't solved a way to get over whatever trauma had affected him. It was just another way of venting his anger. Oh don't get me wrong he never shot anybody or beat anybody up more than necessary, but he took such risks. He kept risking his own life, most of the time it resulted in saving others, but still he was hurt too much. Not just physically, but inside as well" Damian told the Mountie quietly. He had never been so open with a stranger before, but he felt it needed to be said, especially when his son had come so close to dying.
"May I make a suggestion?" Fraser ventured, and continued at Damian's nod "Make up with the lieutenant. He really cares for Ray, and it would break his heart if they could no longer speak. The last few months has meant a lot to him, he had really missed having Ray around. I suggest that you just talk to him. Mend fences with Welsh. He's a good man, he thinks an awful lot of you and you family sir. Plus Ray would be so proud and happy if the two of you made up it may even help his recovery" Fraser continued, only feeling slightly guilty at the emotional blackmail. He knew that Ray would need plenty of friends around him, and if the two older men didn't make up then Ray would have to recover without the age of Welsh, and that could affect him. Damian nodded.
"Okay I'll talk to him. Will you stay with Ray?" Fraser nodded, he had wanted to be alone with his friend anyway. Damian placed a kiss on his son's forehead then left the room. Ray was still in his fitful sleep, so Fraser just sat back and waited in case Ray needed him.
Damian found Welsh fairly quickly.
"Harding, may I speak with you please?" he asked his one time friend, as he pulled him away. Welsh followed without comment. "I need to apologise to you. I'm sorry for everything that has happened in the last few years. I have felt very angry with you for so long, and now I find out that I have been angry for no reason. You, like me, just wanted the best for Ray. My son loves you like a father. He thinks so much of you. I have been keeping you a part, and for that I'm sorry. I realise now that I had no right to be angry at you or blame you for my son joining the force. Now I am so proud of him"
"He's good at his job"
"I know he is. He's a good person"
"What was it that you thought I had done?" Welsh asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
"You remember how Ray changed drastically and started to drink? Well I always thought that Ray had told you what was bothering him, but you were refusing to tell me or Barbara" Damian told him.
"And that's why you were so mad at me?" Welsh asked incredulously.
"Yeah, dumb huh?"
"I'll say. So we okay now?"
"Yeah, now come on lets go and see to that boy of ours" Damian replied with a cheeky grin. It felt good to have made peace. He was usually a stubborn man, and it was difficult to get him to apologise, but in this case it was worth it. The two men walked back to Ray's room side by side, talking properly for the first time in years. Their humour was dispelled when they reached Ray's room, and found the younger man leaning over and violently retching into a bowl held by Fraser. His whole body wracked with sobs as he heaved. The pain lines were once more evident on his face. He gradually leaned back against the pillows. His face had drained of all colour and he was covered in a sheen of sweat. He was shaking uncontrollably and tears were streaming down his face. The two men walked quickly into the room, and each helped Ray to curl up to protect his stomach, they both stood back realising that there was nothing more they could do to help their friend. Fraser returned with the doctor in tow, and they stood back helplessly as the doctor injected Ray with something for the pain. It was a couple of minutes until all of Ray's agitated movements stopped and he succumbed to the darkness. It was when Ray was finally asleep that Fraser broke the silence.
"So have you two made up?" he asked, never taking his eyes from his friend.
"Yes, thanks son" Damian replied squeezing the young man's shoulder.
"Why don't you two go and get some coffee or something, I'll stay with Ray" Welsh muttered quietly. He had hardly seen Ray since he had been brought to the hospital, and he really wanted some time with him. The two left so Welsh sat down beside Ray. He knew the pain-induced sleep wouldn't last long, as he hadn't been given a sedative. He wasn't sure what he would say to Ray when he did wake up, but he knew they had to talk. He had to wait for two hours before Ray showed any signs of life. Ray awoke quickly and his eyes wandered round in fear before he registered where he was. He acknowledged Fraser with a distant smile and a slight sigh.
"Ray, do you feel up to talking?" he asked gently, desperate to find out what was going on in Ray's head, but not wanting to push too much.
"What you wanna talk about?" Ray asked, with his eyes close. Deep pain lines were etched around his eyes, and he was still too pale for Fraser's liking. He knew that Ray was still very ill, but he also knew that he would survive.
"Ray will you talk to me about what happened to you while you were undercover?" Fraser replied, getting slightly frustrated.
"If you want" Ray replied, still not opening his eyes.
"You can start when you're ready" Ray's eyes opened slowly, and Fraser had to refrain from gasping when he saw the emotions whirling beneath their depths. Ray's eyes always displayed what he was feeling, but so many emotions were clear that Fraser didn't know how to help his friend.
"Where do you want me to start?"
"Start from when you first met up with Richard and Eddie"
"Okay. I went to their place, can't remember the address. As soon as I got there Eddie told me I was late. I just bull shitted, they believed me, then we all went on to this club. Eddie was carrying this big bag full of coke, as soon as we got in they started dealing. All these kids buying the stuff, and I was selling it to them. I mean me, I've always been against drugs, I hate them, and then here I am dealing to kids. Eddie and Rich were wild taking tons of the stuff. I had no choice, Fraser I swear I didn't want to do it. I had to, if I hadn't taken it then they would have known"
"I know Ray, it's okay, just continue"
"Anyway I managed to bluff while we were in the club. I mean we made thousands in there. Then we took like a mini party back to the house. Eddie had met an old friend called Kevin, he said he could get rid of the coke in bulk, Eddie was keen to go, but Rich wasn't. Anyway he didn't talk about that he just took more. Everybody was getting high. I got given the cash to count, so I did, but there was this girl, she was working the streets so I slipped her a couple of hundred bucks. Then suddenly Eddie was by my side and he gave me a pack for personal use, I honestly had to take it. Anyway the next morning I woke up and I felt really strange. Eddie had gone out, Rich was there with a woman, but he was going on about some meeting, I assumed that Mamet would know what he was going on about, so I just played along, then I remembered from the briefing about Lucy, and I just thought that was who he was going to see. Anyway I had limited conversation with this woman, then I went back to bed. I was woken up later by Eddie, he was screaming at me, asking where Rich had gone. I told him that Rich had gone to see Lucy and then he was gone again. Going mad, the phone rang and he was shouting, then he told me that Burke had got Rich. We were in the car before I knew it. Apparently a Narcotics cop had spoken to Eddie the night before, but he was dirty cop. Anyway we went to see this Kevin, I'd rung Welsh before hand. He was just a kid, but Eddie was waving a gun at him, honestly he was gonna cap him but he was high, he didn't really know what he was doing, I was in the same position, but I couldn't let him kill the kid, so I moved his arm. We then went to this warehouse, we climbed up the stairs and we ended up in this room, this bloke was on top of Eddie, he had a gun, so I shot him. Then there was this other bloke across the room, he held a gun in my face, and he was going to fire, so I shot him first. Felt his blood spread across my face. I felt so sick, it was all over me. And the look in his eyes as I took his life. I heard a sound beside me and there was another one, I just shot him, I couldn't look. I leaned against the wall, I wasn't concentrating, and this man shot me. I just felt this hot burning sensation across my chest. It hurt so much. I couldn't even stand, so I slid down the wall. Then Eddie came over and I didn't want him to get killed because of me, so I told him to go and get Rich. He hesitated but then he went. The next thing I know you're leaning over me and pressing down on my chest so hard that I was seeing stars. That's it" Ray informed him, and by the time he had finished he had tears streaming down his face. Fraser didn't mention that he had seen the tape, so he didn't ask Ray about holding a gun to his own head. Fraser noticed Welsh standing in the doorway writing down everything that Ray had just said. It was easier than taking a formal statement and less traumatic. He sensed that Ray had finished so allowed the two men some privacy and quietly leaving the room.
"Eddie's been asking after you" Fraser told him.
"He has? Does he know I'm a cop?" Ray asked surprised.
"Yeah, Lieutenant Welsh told him"
"How did he take it?"
"He still wants to see you. Would you like to see him"
"Yeah, out of curiosity if nothing else"
"I'll arrange it for you" Fraser told him, slightly anxious about this meeting himself. He left the room and organised for Eddie to visit Ray. He was handcuffed, but didn't seem violent. He was lead quietly into Ray's room, where he was pushed into a seat. Fraser stood back near the door so Ray could talk privately. Eddie stared at Ray for a while, then Ray turned to make eye contact.
"Jesus you look like Mamet" he muttered quietly.
"I'm sorry for lying to you" Ray whispered.
"Man you saved my fucking life" Eddie told him, clutching his hand between his own handcuffed ones. "I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry for getting you shot, and I'm sorry for making you take those drugs. You saved my life and you saved Richard's life, so don't apologise to me man. You're on my back man" Eddie told him, staring straight into Ray's eyes.
"Okay. Look I gotta go, but take right Mamet" Ray nodded. "Jesus I can'the call you by a dead man's name, what are you called man?"
"Ray what?" Ray looked up at Fraser before answering.
"Ray Kowalski" he replied after a while.
"Good to meet you Kowalski" he responded. Ray was amazed by how much Eddie had seemed to change. Fraser had told him that he had kicked the habit, it amazed Ray at how much that could change a person. He sighed before leaning back against his pillows and falling asleep. His sleep was haunted by images of Richard and Eddie and bright colours enforced by the drugs he had had to take. He and Eddie weren't really that different, they had both acted the same, just under different circumstances. Eddie had killed and taken drugs for kicks, but Ray had been forced into the habit.
Six Months Later
It seemed like so long ago that Ray had been in hospital. It had been a slow recovery process and his muscles still protested against too much activity. Welsh and Damian Kowalski had been against Ray going back to work so fast, but he had insisted. The doctor had signed him off so there were no real grounds for Welsh to refuse. The friendship between Damian and Welsh was firmer than it had ever been and with that the relationship between father and son had also improved. Fraser had been keeping a close eye on Ray ever since he had been released from hospital, much to Ray's annoyance, their friendship had also grown stronger. Ray was still plagued with nightmares and pain, but he continued with his own strength and the support of his friends. Frannie had been a rock throughout, always holding him when the shakes hit, and laughing with him when he needed. Their relationship had blossomed, and things were almost getting back to normal. Ray even testified as a character witness for Eddie and Rich, he was blessed with a new self-confidence for his handling of the situation and awarded another commendation, despite his protests. All in all life was better for Ray Kowalski, and he felt more alive than he ever had before, especially when he went back to work for the first time. As he walked into the squad room he couldn't help but feel self conscious as he felt everyone was looking at him, he was amazed when everybody rose from their seats and broke out into a round of applause. He blushed furiously and headed straight to his desk, still it was good to feel wanted despite his embarrassment. Everyone quieted down when he was seated and he thanked them. He didn't like making long speeches so he just uttered thanks and got on with his work, which was his usual habit, and one he favoured to his more recent activities. He leaned back in his chair, he took a long sweeping look around him and noticed people around him and he cared about and who cared about him. He grinned to himself, all had worked out for the best and he was going to be okay. He picked up the phone and rung Stella, maybe it was time to continue another habit.