Sept. 18th, 1999
Disclaimer: The story is mine, half of the characters are not. I'm borrowing them from Alliance. I'll give them back, when I'm done with them.
Dedications: This story is dedicated to Diana and the Callum Keith Rennie Mailing list. Thanks for helping me name Catherine and Devin. And of course, Andy and Crazee 'cause they're just awesome! And to Ben. My Ben. For reminding me of the joy in the simple things.
Authors Note: Okay, this really isn't my usual thing, but it came to me in clips and phrases, and I just had to write it. If you don't like it, I'm very sorry, but I just fell in love with Catherine. She's an incredibly complex character, with a lot of issues. I'm sure most of you will hate her, but I don't care.
Plus, there are a few references to Stephen King novels. Mostly The Tommyknockers. Contrary to popular belief, that was not the worst novel Stephen King ever wrote. Also alluded to are Needful Things and The Stand. They aren't really explained in the text, so I'm making you, the reader, aware of them now. To try and avoid confusion. Bet you can't find them all!
Also, (dear god, this is turning out to be longer than the story!) The point of view skips around a bit. I tried to clear it up by using tense and person, and different fonts. Hope you don't get confused! This story is rated R for some mild sex, bad language and some slightly disturbing scenes.
And just one more thing! Some people that have read this have mentioned Cerebus. I know that the dog that guards hell is named Cerberus. That's the point. Bonus points to anyone who knows who Cerebus is!
I apologize for any mistakes I may or may not make in the course of this story. Especially the Latin. It's been a while since I had a Latin class. And I didn't even try to stick with the chronology of the show. This is a B alternate universe of my own design. One I didn't lose in a game of poker.
Questions and comments can (and hopefully will be) sent to: JediLyssa@aol.com . I love feedback!!!
By: Jedi Lyssa
A storm is coming. A great and powerful storm. I can feel it in the air. But it is not a storm of wind, and snow. It is a storm of evil, and blackness of the soul. It is storm that there is no shelter for. I see it growing each day. It is hidden behind light clouds of content. But the silver lining does not make up for the thunderhead.
The storm is not nameless, or faceless. It clothes itself in a familiar form. But I can see through the smile, to the sickness inside. I know what I must do, where I must go. To fight darkness you must find light. And I know where there is light.
And that is why I must go from my home. my beautiful home that I haven't left since I came there at the tender age of eleven. I must journey South, to a place called Chicago, and a man named Benton.
"Constable!" Inspector Thatcher's voice rang throughout the Consulate. "Constable Fraser!"
Fraser leapt up from behind his desk and hurried into the Inspectors office. She stood behind her desk, a vexed look fixed on her face.
"Yes sir?" Fraser asked, standing in front of her desk.
"It would appear we have a situation on our hands. I've been called back to Ottawa for a week or so."
"I see. May I inquire as to the nature of this situation?" Fraser asked.
"No, Constable, you may not."
"Of course sir."
"I must leave immediately. I trust you can handle things in my absence?" She asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Of course sir. You have nothing to worry about.
"Good." She said, coming around to the front of her desk. "Everything is in order. I don't anticipate any crisis's in the near future, but should one occur, this is the number where I can be reached."
"Thank you sir. I'll take care of everything." Fraser said. Thatcher nodded, and left the office. "Goodbye, sir." Fraser called, and shrugged. Whatever was going on was none of his business. But what was his business was keeping the Consulate running smoothly. He sat down, and began to review the days paperwork.
Ray Vecchio, formerly known as Ray Kowalski, noticed the woman the minute she stepped in the door. She was tall and slender, about 5'11. She had long, dark hair, and pale skin. She wore a short white form fitting dress and a long black coat. She stood hovering in the doorway, looking about nervously.
Ray leapt over his desk and shoved past Huey in his rush to get over to her. She was by far and away the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and she obviously needed help.
"Can I help you?" he asked, skidding to a stop in front of her. she was even more beautiful up close.
"Maybe..." She said, looking up at him. Her eyes were the most amazing shade of blue that Ray had ever seen. Deep and dark and almost violet.
"What'dya need?" Ray asked, smiling at her. She looked very afraid.
"This is the first time I've ever been to the city." She explained. "Any city, really. Well, that's not true, because I was born in Boston. But I moved when I was eleven, and since then I haven't been to a city."
"Uh-huh." Ray said, a little confused. But that explained her nervousness.
"Well, I'm looking for an old friend of mine. Benton Fraser? I was told I could find him here." She looked up, hopefully.
"Fraser. Yeah." Ray said. Of course. A gorgeous woman comes in, and she's lookin' for Fraser. Just my luck.
"So you do know him?"
"Yeah. Fraser's my partner." Ray explained.
"Then he's here?"
"Actually, he's at the Consulate." Ray said. She frowned slightly. "But, I was just on my way over there. I could give you a ride."
"Could you? Oh, that would be wonderful." She breathed. "It's not an imposition, is it?"
"Nah, course not. I'm Ray" Ray said.
"Catherine." She said, shaking his hand.
"Come on." He said, and took her out to the car,
"So, how do you no Fraser?" Ray asked as they drove.
"We grew up together. In Nunavut." She explained. "When my parents died, I was sent there to live with some very distant cousins."
"Oh." Ray said.
"He's a good man. At least, he was last time I saw him. He hasn't changed much, has he?"
"Well, he carries on conversations with a deaf wolf, tastes everything, and doesn't know how not to be polite." Ray said.
"He hasn't changed a bit." Catherine said, smiling.
"Yeah, uh, he's a good guy." Ray said. "Uh, here we are." Ray pulled up to the curb, and Catherine was out of the car before he had even turned off the engine. Ray turned it off, and rushed after Catherine. By the time he had caught up with her, she was already in the Inspectors office.
"Benton?" She asked, standing in the doorway. Fraser looked up from the paper work on his desk, and looked at Catherine, uncomprehending.
"Do I...Catherine?" He asked, recognition dawning.
"Mm-hm." She said.
"Is it really you?" He stood up, a smile breaking over his face.
"It's really me, Ben!" She said, running over to him. He came around to the front of the desk and embraced her, picking her up off her feet and holding her to him.
"Wh...what are you doing here?" Fraser asked, putting her back down.
"I needed to see you." She said.
"Oh. I'm glad you're here." Fraser said, still grinning.
"I'm not here for pleasure." She said, and Ray thought he detected a hint of a blush on Fraser's cheeks. "God knows I wish I were."
"I see." Fraser said, his smile disappearing.
"Uh, I'll just go." Ray said, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. It was obvious that there was more here than met the eye. And the way Catherine and Fraser were speaking together made Ray more than a little jealous.
"Oh. Ray." Fraser said, looking at his friend. "I didn't even realize you were here."
"Yeah. I gave your friend a ride." Ray explained.
"Oh." Fraser looked a little confused.
"I went to the precinct first." Catherine explained. "I was told I would find you there. Ray was kind enough to bring me here."
"Yes. Ray's very kind." Fraser said. "And I believe he was saying he'd be leaving?"
"Yeah, well, I'll just let you two catch up on old times or whatever. But, Catherine, if you ever wanna tour of Chicago, I'd be happy to oblige." Ray said. "Here's my number."
"Thank you." Catherine said, taking the scrap of paper with Ray's name and address on it. Ray smiled at her, and left, leaving Fraser and Catherine by themselves.
"It's so good to see you." Fraser said, embracing her again.
"I know. And I'm sorry it's been so long." She apologized.
"Quite all right. I've been quite busy anyway." Fraser said.
"I see." Catherine nodded, and looked away.
"What is it?" Fraser asked.
"When I said I wasn't here for pleasure, I was serious." She said. "I need your help, Benton. I need it very badly."
"What's wrong?" Fraser asked, concerned.
"It's hard to explain..." Catherine said, looking down at her feet.
"Are you in some sort of trouble?" Fraser asked.
"Not exactly..." Catherine pursed her lips, thinking.
"Well, what is it? Fraser asked. "Catherine, you have to give me some sort of..."
"It's bad, Benton." She said, cutting him off. "Very bad." She turned to the window, and gazed out. A light snow had begun to fall, and the streets of Chicago were dusted in white.
"Drugs?" Fraser asked. "Debt?"
"No, no. Nothing like that. It's a matter of a far more metaphysical nature."
"How so?" He asked, confused.
"Do you remember Devin Aswell?" She asked, turning. Of course he remembered Devin. He had been a rather cruel and antisocial child. His parents had ignored him in favor of his three older brothers. Devin had been a sort of runt in his family, and that had taken its toll on him early. Even though when Catherine came, he was in his early teens, he had still been a troubled young man.
"Well, he's changed. He's still as malignant as ever, but he acts incredibly nice to everyone. The whole village acts like he's a saint or something. But it's not real nice. It's fake nice." She said.
"How do you know?"
"Because he's so...Oh, I don't know. But he lies. It's like...you read Othello, didn't you? Well, Devin's like Iago. Pretending to be everybody's best friend, when he's just playing all sides against the middle. And on top of that, he asked me to marry him. Can you believe it? And he expects me to say yes." Catherine said
"I take it you are opposed to the idea. Quite understandable, but I don't see how I can be of any assistance." Fraser said.
"But there's more." Catherine said, perching on the desk. "There's magic at work here. Dark magic. Devin's sold his soul to whatever devil there is."
"Magic? Catherine, you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as magic." Fraser said, knowing she must be joking.
"How can you say that?" She demanded.
"Well, there's no such thing as black magic at any rate." He amended.
"But there is! There's a storm coming, Benton. A black storm. I'm the only one who sees it. And there's only one way to fight it. You can only fight evil with good. And you're good. I know you. And, if anyone knows about the good magic, it's you. You have to help me." She pleaded.
"You truly believe Devin's using magic." Fraser said.
"Yes. Why don't you?" Catherine demanded.
"Why don't I?" Fraser laughed slightly, and shook his head. "Because it's one of the most preposterous things I've ever heard. Devin may be a liar, and he may be charismatic, but that's all. I find it hard to believe that he's bewitched an entire Nunavutian village. Catherine, you've been reading far too many of those horror novels you fancy."
"I can't believe you!" Catherine yelled, leaping off of the table. "You really don't' believe me!"
"How can you expect me too?" He asked, raising his voice. "You come her after ten years, not to see me, but to ask my help in defeating what you believe to be a warlock who has sold his soul to the devil. No, Catherine. I'm sorry, but I just cannot believe that my old village has been taken over by an evil demon, or anything else of the sort. And I find it hard to believe that you do. I thought you had a bit better sense then that."
"Fine. You won't help me, I'll find someone else who will. Some one who actually cares about me!" She yelled. Fraser winced, and he knew she had chosen her words carefully. A flicker of guilt crossed Catherine's face, but it was gone in an instant. She started to say something, but turned and stormed out instead.
It amazed him that even after over ten years, her moods were still as unpredictable as . She hadn't changed a bit. But seeing her had brought him back, over ten years ago, to a night of passion in a deserted cabin. When words were meaningless, and actions were everything.
But that was a long time ago, and now was not the time to visit memory lane. Especially memories like that. Besides, he had a Consulate to run.
He denied me! I can't believe the bastard denied me! And besides that, he didn't believe me! I thought him, of all people, would believe me and lend me his aid. But instead, he raised his voice at me. And he laughed at me, at first. No one laughs at me and gets away with it. Least of all Benton Fraser.
But I still need help. And I think I know where to get it. If Benton won't help, his partner will. I saw the way he looked at me. Lead a man by his cock and he'll follow you into hell, as my foster mother had once said. And he has a good soul. That's all that matters. And it will prove to Benton that I am still who I was.
Ray yawned, and stretched out on his couch. It had been a long day, working without Fraser. But the Mountie had obviously wanted to spend time with Catherine.
Catherine. She was the most beautiful woman Ray had ever seen. There was just something about her...Ray couldn't get her out of his head. And it wasn't just that she was beautiful. Ray could tell she was a wonderful person. But it was obvious she had a thing for Fraser. And from the way they had been talking, and hugging, Fraser had a thing for her too.
He didn't even realize I was in the room. Practically threw me out when he did. Don't blame him though. If I had her, I'd never let her out of my sight. I wonder why Fraser never mentioned her. Ray shook his head. He was about to get something to eat when there was a knock at the door. Ray mumbled something, and lurched to his feet. Who the hell could that be?
He opened the door, and there was Catherine, standing in the hallway. She was gripping the scrap of paper he had given her, and she looked like she had been crying. Ray wondered what could possibly have happened.
"Wha...What are you doing here?" Ray asked, felling a bit uncomfortable standing in front of this beautiful woman wearing nothing but a tank top and sweat pants.
"I'm so sorry!" Catherine sobbed, tears starting fresh down her face. "I couldn't think of anyone else to go too, and you were so nice to me earlier..."
"Hey, it's okay." Ray said. "Come on in." Catherine entered the apartment, her shoulders shaking. Why's she here? Why isn't she with Fraser? What the hell's going on?
"I'm so sorry." Catherine said again, sitting on Ray's couch.
"It's no problem, really." Ray said. "Can I get you anything?"
"No. Thank you." Ray sat down next to her, and waited for her to tell him what was wrong.
"I need help." She said, fixing her deep blue eyes on Ray. "I need it badly. And you're a good person, I can tell. And Fraser said you were kind, and Fraser doesn't lie. And I can trust you. Can't I?"
"Of course." Ray said, lost in Catherine's eyes.
"I knew it! You'll help me, won't you?" She asked, looking deep into Ray's eyes.
"Yeah...but why can't Fraser? I mean, it's not like I don't want to help you..." Ray trailed off, overcome with an almost irresistible urge to take Catherine in his arms and kiss her, and lose himself in her.
"Benton's a fool! He doesn't believe I need help. He thinks I'm exaggerating. But I don't care!" Catherine smiled, and her voice turned soft and. "Besides, I don't need his help. I'd rather be with you."
"Really?" Ray asked, staring into the beautiful face turned up at him.
"Mm-hm. Benton's kind, but he's cold in his kindness. And lost in his word where everything can be solved as long as you have the right formula. He's lost his passion for living. Not like you. You're full of passion. Aren't you?"
"I, uh..." Ray felt his blood begin to heat as Catherine smiled at him seductively. She was sitting so close that their thighs were touching and her breath was warm on his face. Ray could feel her eyes staring through him, tugging at his heart and other places. Her tongue darted out, and she licked her lips. Ray followed the path of her tongue over her lips, and he could hardly contain himself.
"I..." Ray was breathing heavy, and he found it hard to speak.
"What Ray?" Catherine asked, huskily. She placed her hand on his thigh, gently. "What do you want? You can tell me."
"You." Ray breathed, the word slipping out before he could stop it. Catherine said nothing, but tilted her face up until their lips met, and Catherine moved her hand from Ray's thigh to his groin. Her lips and hand were fierce and demanding, and she bore down on Ray with an incredible passion.
He was soon lost in a world of heat and fury and blind desire, and soon they were writhing on the floor, locked in a passionate embrace. The world was nothing. The world had become sense. Touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. And Catherine filled all of those, becoming the world, blotting out all else. Consequences meant nothing. The time for thought was long gone. The world was narrowing, focusing into a pinpoint of desire, and it was over in a burst of passion.
They lay together on the floor, bathed in sweat, exhausted. Ray wasn't exactly sure what had happened, but it had been good.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?" Catherine asked, laying her head on Ray's chest, and looking up into his eyes.
"I guess." Ray said. "Why?"
"I do." She said, lifting herself up and looking down at Ray. "I believe because it happened to me today."
"Mm-hm. The minute I saw you today, I knew I wanted you. Wanted to be with you."
"I kinda felt the same way."
"Do you love me?"
"Huh?" The question caught Ray of guard, even though she had just asked him if he believed in love at first sight. And he did. He had loved Stella the minute he saw her. But Stella was different, so very different than Catherine. Like Catherine had said of Fraser, Stella was cold in her love. And Stella had left him. Chosen her career, rather than Ray. Would Catherine leave him. She had chosen him over Fraser.
But it had been years since someone had made him feel this way. Not since Stella had he been so swept off his feet. And he had loved Stella...But love Catherine? Well, what was love? If love was wanting to be with someone forever, and thinking about them when they weren't there, and feeling whole when they were there, then yes. He loved Catherine. Besides, Ray had always believed love was like this. Sudden. Like a bullet to the brain.
"Yeah." Ray said, not even realizing he had spoken. He had been thinking out loud.
"I mean it Ray. Do you really love me? Don't think. Just answer. Do you love me?"
"Yes." Ray said, firmly. "Yes."
"Than say it. Tell me you love me."
"I love you." Again, it was distracted.
"Then you'll help me?"
"Good." She sat up, and began pulling her clothes on. "Get dressed. We're going to Nunavut."
Rather than worry over the current situation, Fraser had thrown himself into his work. He filed, stamped and copied until there was nothing left to do. And when he was done, Catherine crept back into his mind.
They had been lovers, once. A long time ago. But monogamy had been a foreign concept to Catherine, and she had hurt Fraser. And for nearly a year afterwards she had sworn that she loved him. And, Fraser supposed, in her own way she had. But they had been so young then, and love was a vague undefined thing. Love had been sex, a hot, wild thing, full of pain and pleasure and guilt.
And for Benton Fraser, that was what love had always been. A mix of pain, pleasure, guilt and sorrow. And an empty longing once it was gone. But Catherine had been innocent in her deception, fresh and new to the game of intrigue that was love. She hadn't meant to hurt or deceive. But she had. And when she left, she had started inside of Fraser a gaping hole that had grown to nearly consume him.
Then there had been Victoria. A woman whose love was tainted. Hateful and cruel, and full of vengeance. She had used Fraser, but he had allowed it, fooling himself into thinking it was love. Real love. But Victoria had betRayed him as well. And left him for dead. That was Fraser's last brush with love.
But Catherine had rekindled feelings long dormant. Perhaps, Fraser thought, perhaps there's still a chance for us. Catherine's a reasonable woman. Most of the time. And perhaps there's something wrong after all. Certainly not black magic, but something.
And I'm not getting any younger. As much as I deny it to myself, I want a family. And I believe I could love Catherine, if she'd have me. I've gone too long alone.
But Catherine was gone. Fraser had no idea where. Back to Nunavut? Doubtful. Catherine had come to Chicago for help, and she wasn't likely to leave until she had gotten it. Besides, Fraser had hurt her pride. She wasn't going to allow him to get away with that. She'd want revenge.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. And Catherine is a woman in every sense of the word. She'll get back at me, as the saying goes. But how? Besides, where would she go...
Oh dear. She may be vengeful, but she's terribly efficient. And she utilizes her abilities quite well. I'd better warn Ray.
Fraser went for the phone. But stopped himself. Catherine had been in Chicago for nearly twenty four hours. Warning Ray now would do no good. If Catherine had decided to go to Ray, she had already done it. Fraser hoped against hope that Ray would use good judgement with Catherine. Unfortunately, Fraser doubted that was the case. Ray was quite susceptible to the charms of beautiful woman, and Catherine was among the most beautiful. As far as Fraser knew, no man had been able to resist her.
Fraser sighed. Perhaps Devin and Catherine deserve each other. But he regretted the thought immediately. Catherine wasn't bad. She could just be a little thoughtless at times. Especially when she was hurt or upset.
Perhaps I should call Ray. Just in case. He picked up the phone, and dialed the precinct.
"27th. How can I help you?" A woman at the other end answered.
"Oh, hi'ya Fraze." Frannie said.
"Hello. Is Ray there?"
"No. Didn't he tell you?"
"Tell me what?" Fraser did his best to remain calm.
"Left?" It was worse then Fraser had thought. "Where did he go?"
"I don't know. Uh, Uvit? Nunit? Nutive..."
"Nunavut?" Fraser supplied.
"Yeah, that was it! Nunavut. Do you have any clue what's going on? Does it have anything to do with that woman he was talking to yesterday?" Frannie asked.
"Perhaps. Did he say anything else?"
"Nope. Nothing. He didn't even say when he was coming back. Is Ray gonna be okay?"
"I see no reason why not." Fraser said. "Thank you kindly. I'll keep in touch."
"Thanks, Fraze." Frannie said, hanging up. Fraser sighed. Things had just grown far more complicated. Catherine had certainly succeeded in causing him grief.
I shouldn't have spoken so harshly to her. I should have at least allowed her to explain herself, her reasons for believing what she said.
I have to go after them. But I can't leave the Consulate unattended. I suppose I could leave Turnbull in charge/ This is an emergency.
That was all he could do. Fraser wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but he didn't want Ray mixed up with Catherine. She wasn't right for him. She would take advantage of him. He called Turnbull in, and explained as much of the situation as he felt was necessary.
"Not to worry!" Turnbull informed him. "I'll keep the Consulate in tip-top condition while you're gone."
"Thank you Constable. Dismissed."
Turnbull left, and Fraser made arrangements to fly up to the closest airport to Nunavut. He had no time to spare.
"It's a bit of a hike to the village." Catherine said. They were walking along what Ray assumed was a road. But with all the snow, it was hard to tell. They were out in the boonies of Canada. The plane they had taken was a small one, specially equipped to land on ice.
"That's okay." Ray said. "So, what exactly is the problem?" Catherine had been very vague in her description of what was wrong.
"I suppose I should tell you." She said, looking away. "It's just..."
"What is it?" Ray asked, taking Catherine's hand.
"I'm just afraid that when I tell you, you're not going to believe me. You'll just laugh, like Benton."
"I won't. I promise."
"Really." Ray said. "You can trust me."
"Do you believe in magic?"
"Magic? Like hocus-pocus, Merlin magic? Gee. I never really thought about it. Why?"
"Because...That's why I need your help." Catherine looked down at her feet.
"What do you need?" Ray asked, confused.
"It's Devin. I know I'm going to sound incredibly silly, but I swear on my life, Devin's using black magic on the town."
"Okay. That is a little bit, uh, silly." Ray agreed.
"I know. But once you see! Once you see what he's done, you'll believe me. I know you will."
"Okay. I said I'd help you, and I'm gonna. But what proof do you have? I mean, did you find, like, voodoo dolls in his closet or something?"
"You watch too much TV. It started a few months ago. Well, I noticed it a few moths ago. I never really paid much attention to Devin. I hung around with him a little when I was younger, but he's really weird. A loner. No one really liked him. Not even his own brothers. And I live by myself, so I'm making a lot of trips between my village and Inclid. That's the closest large town.
"Well, I came home, and Devin was waiting for me on my porch. I thought that was odd, and I was little bit nervous. Devin's...dark. In the soul, I mean.
"He offered me help, putting my supplies in my cabin. I had a lot, since I hadn't been out in a month or so, so I agreed. And when we were done, he said he needed to talk with me, so I put on a pot of coffee and asked him to sit down. He did, and he starts saying all this bizarre stuff, about how important I was to him. He said I was the only person who had ever been kind to him, and that I was truly special. Then he asked me to marry him.
"I didn't know what to say. I told him I'd have to think about it. I couldn't say no. I was scared. He was staring at me, very intensely. His eyes are so dark..." Catherine shuddered, lost in memory.
"What did he do?"
"He said alright, and he understood. It was sudden, and I was caught off guard. Then I started paying attention. Not directly, of course. But I started watching him. And I noticed that people were treating him different. Everyone was treating him like their best friend, and coming to him for advice. And he just kept telling them what they wanted to hear.
"But that wasn't all. The town was starting to divide itself. The younger people against the older people. There's always been unrest in the village. But it was always quiet. Now it's right out in the open."
"What side's Devin on?" Ray asked.
"Both. He's playing both sides against the middle. And I don't know why. He has nothing to gain." Catherine sighed.
"Okay. But what does magic have to do with it?"
"Because. Devin couldn't do this on his own. An outcast cannot suddenly become the Mr. Popular. It's just not possible. Devin ahs the ear of every influential person in Nunavut. And he's...different."
"He's...darker. I can see it when he looks at me. And he knows what I'm thinking. He knows I'm going to say no. And I'm scared."
"Because when I'm with him...I don't want to say no."
"Huh?" Ray was confused. "I thought you just said this guy was creepy, and you didn't like him."
"I did. I can't stand him. But when I'm with him...I don't want anyone else. I'd do anything he said. But when I'm away, I'm normal."
"Are you saying he's put some sort of love spell on you?"
"Yes. I know it's hard to believe..."
"No. I believe you." Ray said. And he did. Stranger things had happened.
"Oh, god, Ray! I can't thank you enough!" Catherine said, flinging herself into his arms.
"Sure you can." Ray said wickedly, sliding his hands down Catherine's body.
"Hmm." Catherine chuckled. "It's a bit cold for that. Later." They both laughed, and the continued walking. Ray was glad he had come. Catherine was amazing. She was full of life and fire, and from what Ray had seen, she had a strong spirit. She was everything Ray had ever dreamed of, all in one woman. She was satin and silk, iron and steel all blended together. She was desire, hunger, longing and need, and the answer to them all encased in aching beauty. And she held Ray Kowalski's heart in the palm of her hand.
He's come with me to Nunavut, to my village. He is at my beck and call. He'd follow me into hell, if that were the case. And he'd do it with a smile.
He truly believes that he loves me. Once they've said it, there's no going back. Benton never said it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get him to say it. His one flaw. If only he had said it...
But he didn't. Which it is why it is Ray Vecchio who is with me now, and not Benton Fraser. I still wonder, even now, how Ben felt about me. Did he love me? I hurt him, I know. But I didn't mean too. But he wouldn't say it. Someday though. Someday he will.
The plane ride to Inclid was a rather short one, but it gave Fraser a chance to think. He wasn't sure what he was going to encounter in Nunavut. Catherine and Ray had been alone together for a considerable amount of time. Fraser knew ho Catherine was, and her methods for getting what she wanted. And he could only imagine what her considerable talents had matured into. By this point, she probably had Ray wrapped around her finger.
Fraser sighed. He knew that the present situation was largely his fault. He should never have spoken to Catherine the way he had. She was so easily upset. He had been so taken aback by her accusations...But that was no excuse.
Who knows what she's done to Ray. Besides slept with him. I know she did that the first night. Ray wouldn't have refused. And for some reason, the thought of Ray with Catherine made Fraser's heart race. It wasn't jealousy. It couldn't be. Benton Fraser was not a jealous person. Besides. Ray means nothing to her. Once she's done with him, she'll leave him. Perhaps if I just let events take their course...
But either way, Ray would get hurt. And Fraser didn't want to see that happen to his friend. Maybe, if he simply watched, and spoke to Catherine, he could subtly steer the situation to a more pleasant outcome.
It was late evening when they reached the village. It was small, comprised mostly of one-floor wooden cabins. Snow coated the roofs and roads, and no one was about.
"Huh. It's not what I expected." Ray said, looking around.
"I don't know. This is an Inuit village, right?"
"Well, for the most part, the population is Inuit, yes."
"I guess I just didn't expect cabins."
"You expected huts? Igloos?"
"I don't know." Ray shrugged, sheepishly. Catherine shook her head. She led Ray to a small cabin half-way down the main road.
"That's funny." Catherine said, her hand on the door.
"The door's unlocked." She shrugged, and went inside, Ray close on her heels. "Just dump your stuff there. We'll put it away later."
"'kay." Ray dropped his pack. "Uh, your floor's wet."
"What?" Catherine looked closely at the floor. Sure enough, it was damp. "Curiouser and curiouser." She shrugged, and walked through a door and into what Ray assume was the living room. She stopped dead, and Ray came up behind her to see what was the matter. Suddenly, everything became clear.
"Catherine. You brought a friend home." A mad lounged on Catherine's couch. He had black hair and tanned skin. He was dressed in a black sweater and black jeans. He was devastatingly handsome.
"Devin! What the hell are you doing here?" Catherine asked.
"Now, now. Is that any way to talk to your fiancé?" He asked, rising gracefully and sauntering over to Catherine.
"No. No, of course not. I'm sorry." Catherine apologized.
"That's much better. Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?"
"Oh. Devin, this is Ray Veccio. Ray, this is Devin Aswell." Catherine said, and she sounded ill.
"A pleasure to meet you." Devin said, holding out his hand. Ray shook it distractedly. He was concerned with Catherine. She looked out of it. Her eyes had gone glassy and unfocused.
"I was under the impression you had gone to see Benton." Devin continued, sitting back down.
"Benton? Oh, he was busy." Catherine said. "He..." She shook her head.
"Are you okay?" Ray asked.
"She's fine." Devin answered for her. "She's just tired."
"I asked her." Ray said. And then he remembered. Catherine had something about a spell. This must be it.
"I'm fine." Catherine said. "I'm just tired."
"Perhaps Ray should go to his room and get some sleep. I'm sure he's tired as well."
"I feel fine."
"No, Devin's right." Catherine said. "You should get some sleep."
"Mmm. Fine." Ray said. He would go to his room, but he had no intention of sleeping.
"It's that one." Catherine said. Ray grabbed his pack, and went into the room. He closed the door almost all the way, but left it open a crack, and peered through.
"So," Devin said, patting the couch next to him. Catherine sat down, obediently. "Why did you go to see Benton?"
"I...I forget." Catherine said.
"No you didn't." Devin said, putting his arm around her. "You just don't want to tell me."
"It's alright. I won't be mad. You know that, Cat." Devin's voice was soft and hypnotic.
"I went to him...for help." Catherine said at last.
"Help? What do you need his help for?"
"I needed his help...with..."
"Tell me, Catherine."
"With you!" Catherine said, pulling away. "I know what you're doing...!"
"No. You're confused." Devin said, grabbing her wrist. "You don't know what you're talking about." He pulled her back down. "Now, who is that man you brought back with you?"
"No one!" Catherine said. "He's...no one."
"Nonsense. Every one's someone. Who is he? Why is he here?"
"He's here...because he wants to be."
"What do you mean?"
"He came because he wanted to come." Catherine said, her voice very even.
"What did you tell him?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Catherine."
"I told him...my mind." She said, looking away. Devin held her under the chin, and turned her face so she was looking at him.
"You told him your mind? What was your mind?"
"That...I...was confused. I was scared. I needed help."
"Did you tell him who I was?"
"Don't lie to me!"
"Yes!" Catherine was almost crying.
"Why?" Devin asked, putting his hands on her shoulders. "Why did you tell him?"
"Because..." Catherine sobbed. "I was confused. I thought..."
"You thought what?"
"I don't know. Please, Devin..."
"Did you tell him anything else?"
"No, Devin, I swear. That's all I told him."
"Don't lie..." He was holding her tightly, and Catherine was trying to pry his hand off of her neck.
"I'm not, Devin I swear, I'm not! I didn't tell him anything else! He wouldn't believe me, if I did!"
"Did you tell Benton?"
"No...Yes! Yes, I told him! But he laughed at me! He didn't believe me, you don't have to worry!"
"Did you sleep with him?"
"Did you sleep with the other one?"
"Good. Because you know I'd be upset if you had. And you know what happens when I get upset."
"Don't touch him. You're mine now. This philandering of yours has to stop. I'm not Benton. I won't forgive you." Devin released Catherine and stood up.
"Good." He looked at her once more, and left. Catherine collapsed on the couch, sobbing. Ray wasn't sure what to do. He wasn't even sure what had just happened. She wasn't making it up, or confused, or anything. That guy's really using magic. Oh, shit!
"Catherine?" He opened the door and stepped out into the living room.
"I told you! I told you what he was!"
"I know. I believe you." He sat down next to her, and put a hand on her back.
"He's evil! And it's getting harder to resist him."
"But you did. Thank you."
"I don't know if he believes me. Maybe he does. He wants me to think he does..."
"Don't worry about it. I'm not gonna let him hurt you anymore." Ray rubbed her back, but his mind kept going over her conversation with Devin.
"Did you sleep with him?"
"No." The him in question had been Fraser. Why had Devin asked that? And what did he mean about philandering, and how he wouldn't be forgiving, like Fraser.
"I hate him." Catherine said, sitting up. "I hate him more than a person should be allowed to hate. He gets inside my head, and he knows my thoughts. I try too keep nursery rhymes and little phrases running around in my head. I don't know if that really works, but it's been in enough books that it should have some effect."
"Can he get inside my head?"
"I don't know. Probably. I don't see what makes you different than anyone else." Catherine had stopped crying.
"Should I do the nursery rhyme thing?"
"Yes. And change your thought pattern as often as possible."
"What do you mean?"
"Just, keep thinking different things. I read that somewhere, too. That if you change your thoughts rapidly, they can't keep up. They get...lost."
"Lost, huh? Well, I'll keep that in mind."
"Um, were you, listening?" Catherine asked, her brow creasing a little.
"Yeah." Ray said.
"I see. You're probably wondering. About...things."
"Yeah. Things. You gonna explain, or not?"
"No, I'll explain. It was a long time ago, and it doesn't matter now. We were young, and we thought...I don't know what we thought."
"But you two slept together?"
"Yes. Wait! Who are you talking about?"
"Fraser. Who are you talking about?" Ray asked.
"Devin. Oh. Well, yes, that to. That was...a mistake."
"Fraser or Devin?"
"Fraser. He was...sensitive. I hurt him. I don't think he ever forgave me."
"Oh." Ray didn't know what to say. The situation had definitely turned awkward.
"Look, don't think about it. It doesn't matter. I have you now. I love you. I'm not going to leave you." She took his hands in hers.
"You really love me?" He asked, suddenly doubting.
"Yes. I really love you." She lightly brushed her fingers against the back of his hand. "Don't you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you." He said, remembering times he hadn't trusted when he should have.
"Then what's the problem?"
"There's no problem. Now, do I remember something about you thanking me?" He pulled her onto his lap, and there was no more talk of love, or anything else.
He is a strange man. He trusts me, even though he has no reason to. Why? Because he loves me? Does he really? He questioned me. No man has ever done that. Besides Benton, and he doesn't count. And I misunderstood Ray. I thought he was asking about Devin. It never occurred to me he would ask about Ben.
But perhaps this helps matters, rather than hinders them. Ray's obviously jealous of Benton. I can use that to my advantage...
Dear god. Am I listening to myself? I'm not like Devin. He's in my head. He bangs his fists against the post...He can't read me...Not my real thoughts. Not my inner thoughts.
I'm not using Ray. I'm just...It's for the greater good. Where is this guilt coming from? Am I going soft? This is no time. If Ray gets hurt, that's that. It's his own fault for coming. I didn't force him. He's here of his own free will. For the most part. He followed me, but only because he wasn't thinking with his head. But I think now he's not thinking with his head or his cock. He's thinking with his heart.
As soon as the plane touched down in Inclid, Fraser commandeered a dog sled and headed out to the village. He still wasn't sure why, but he was purposefully ignoring that little fact.
By dogsled, the trip to the village was only two or so hours. Of course, Fraser's plane had landed at about 6 in the evening, so he reached it at about eight, eight thirty. It was only then he realized he hadn't been there in over ten years. He had nowhere to stay.
Of course I do. I'll stay with Catherine. She came to me when she was in Chicago, so I'll go to her now. It's only fair.
He remembered clearly where Catherine lived. It was a small cabin on the north end of town. Fraser hauled the dogs to a stop in front of Catherine's house.
What am I doing here? Fraser ran a hand through his hair, and sighed. He was here. No turning back now. He hitched the dogs up to a post, and climbed Catherine's porch. He hesitated a moment, and knocked. Quietly. There was no answer. Fraser turned, but Diefenbaker whined at him.
"There was no answer. You can see that. She's not home."
"I knocked loud enough."
"Fine." Fraser knocked again, louder. This time there was movement from within the cabin. Now there really was no turning back.
"One minute!" It was Catherine. Stood there for a minute, and the door opened.
"What the...What are you doing here?!?"
"I...Well, you needed help."
"Not anymore. Not yours." She went to close the door, but Fraser stuck his foot between the door and the door-frame.
"Please...listen to me."
"What could you possibly have to say that would interest me?"
"I want to help you. And...I need a place to stay."
"That's not the real reason you're here, is it?" Catherine asked, leaning against the door frame. She was wearing nothing but a black gauzy bathrobe.
"Catherine..." Fraser really didn't feel like being pulled into one of Catherine's little games.
"I'm serious, Ben. It's because of Ray, isn't it? Well, don't worry. He's fine. I haven't stolen his soul or anything like that." Catherine seemed upset by something.
"I never insinuated that you had." Fraser said. "But I will admit I am worried about Ray. I know you Catherine. You don't think about consequences. I don't want Ray getting hurt."
"I already said you don't have to worry. He's fine, and he's going to stay fine. So you can go home." She started to close the door again, and again Fraser stopped her.
"At least let me stay for the night. It's dark, and it's going to snow soon."
"Fine." Catherine opened the door and let Fraser inside. "You can use the spare room." She didn't even bother to show him where it was. She just turned and headed to her room.
"What now?" She snapped, whirling around.
"Are you alright?"
"No. And if you stay here, you won't be either. Leave Ben. It's not safe for you here." She turned, and disappeared into her room, leaving Fraser to puzzle out what she meant.
When Ray woke up, he was a little disoriented. He was lying in a small bed with another person. And that person was female, and naked. Then he remembered. He was in Nunavut with Catherine, to stop a warlock.
This has gotta be the weirdest couple'a days of my life. He stretched, careful not to disturb Catherine. She looked so innocent and peaceful, sleeping there. Her long dark hair was tangled about her in a tumble of untidy curls, and a small smile was on her lips.
It may be weird, but hell. It's worth it. Damn. I'm hungry. I wonder what Catherine's got to eat. Ray got up, pulled on a pair of boxer's, and wandered out into the main part of the cabin and found his way to the kitchen. What he encountered there shocked him even more then finding Devin in Catherine's living room.
"What the fuck are you doing here!?!" Ray demanded.
"Ray. Good morning." Fraser said, smiling.
"Cut the polite crap. What are you doing here?"
"I came to help Catherine."
"Well, scram. I'm helping her."
"Ray, you're being irrational. I see no reason why we can't both offer her our services. We are partners, aren't we?"
"That's not why you're here!"
"Ray, what ahs gotten into you?"
"Yer here 'cause yer jealous." Ray said, accusingly.
"What on earth are you basing that on?"
"'Cause I know about you and Catherine. Well, fuck off."
"Language, Ray. What happened between Catherine and I was a very long time ago. We're friends at best. You have no need to be so jealous."
Ray was going to say something, but at that time Catherine decided to come into the kitchen, again dressed in nothing but a black gauze bathrobe.
"What the hell's going on out here?" She demanded. "You two woke me up."
"I was just telling Fraser here that you already got help."
"I told him that last night. He's still here." Catherine sat down, yawning. "And all thing considered, you might want to get dressed."
Ray frowned, about went back to the bedroom and pulled on some clothes. I can't believe he had the nerve to come here. Who the hell does he think he is? And she didn't throw him out. Philandering. That means cheating, doesn't it. Or something like that. But Catherine wouldn't cheat on me. She loves me. Or she says she does. I'd better have a serious talk with her. but now, I'd better get out there before she and Fraser decide to get jiggy with it.
They're both here, now. They've been here for a week. And Devin has chosen now to make a trip to Inclid. He's stays there for a few weeks at least. No one knows what he does. All the more evidence against him.
But Ben and Ray. There's animosity between them, even though I'm doing nothing to promote it. I've set my plan in motion, and I have no way of pulling it back. But my plan is not flawless. Far from it. In as short a time as a week, I have encountered two obstacles. Two obstacles I never even considered. But now I must face them. There is nothing else I can do.
I made a mistake, going to Ray Vecchio. A grave mistake, and one that I will pay for the rest of my life. Perhaps even longer. Unless...Unless I do the unthinkable, and hurt Ray in a way I don't think I could bring myself to. If it's even Ray that's to blame. But I hope it is. No. I know it is.
But I have more immediate problems. Simpler problems. Problems I know how to deal with, somewhat. I hope.
Things were not going well for Benton Fraser. Ray refused to believe that Fraser had come to Nunavut out of the kindness of his heart. And even though that really was the case, it hurt Fraser that Ray would think that. Especially considering Fraser had done nothing to feed Ray's suspicions. But that didn't seem to matter. They had been in the village for a week, and the situation hadn't gotten any better. And Devin was nowhere to be found.
"You can go home now." Ray was saying. "Devin's not here, Cat's not in any danger."
"I understand. But Devin is going to return."
"And I can handle him."
"I grew up with him. I know him. I know what kind of person he is."
"And I don't? Look, we may be on your turf, but you aren't better than me okay?"
"I never said I was. If we're going to get anything done, you're going to have to get past your illogical jealousy."
"I'm not jealous!" Ray snapped. They were sitting in Catherine's living room.
"Then would you kindly explain when you began hating me? I can't think of anything I've done recently that would upset you so."
"You're here, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. And if you would simply explain why that upsets you so much..."
"Look, don't play stupid with me! I know you've still got the hots for Catherine. I could see it the second you set eyes on her in the Consulate that day."
"That was happiness at seeing an old friend. Nothing more." You're lying through your teeth, now. You just can't admit the truth, can you? You do still have feeling for Catherine, and that's the only reason you're here. You didn't come out of worry for Ray. Or not entirely.
"You're full of shit, Fraser." Ray said.
"Language. And it really wouldn't matter if I did 'have the hots for Catherine', as you say. She obviously prefers you."
"Are you two still arguing?" Catherine asked, joining them in the living room. She looked like she hadn't been sleeping. There were dark circles under her eyes, and her eyes were bloodshot.
"No." Fraser said, right as Ray said yes.
"You okay?" Ray asked, taking note of Catherine's appearance.
"Fine. I'm just worried, that's all. Devin could come back any day."
"Catherine..." Fraser said, slowly.
"I believe it's time we told Ray the entire history."
"What history?" Catherine asked, sitting up.
"Yours, Devin's and mine."
"I think that's a great idea." Ray said.
"Fine, Ben. I'll tell it. It's more mine, than anything. It started years ago, when I was about sixteen. Ben and Devin are both a year older than me. Ben and I were friends. But at that point, we decided...to take it to the next level." Catherine and Fraser exchanged an uncomfortable look.
"We were young." Ben said. "We didn't know what we were doing. We didn't think about what we were doing, or the consequences."
"Are we talking about dating or sex?" Ray asked.
"Sex." Catherine said. "Dating came after that. But, like Ben said, we were young. And it didn't mean anything. To me anyway. I was... promiscuous, to put it politely."
"You were a slut." Ray said.
"Ray." Fraser shot him a look.
"No, it's okay. Yes. I was a slut. But, that's not right either. I didn't sleep with everyone. Just...Devin."
"So that's when you two got it on." Ray said, nodding.
"Yeah. And Devin told Ben. That was pretty much the end of that relationship. We were still friends, but..." Catherine shrugged, not looking at Fraser. "It also ended me and Devin's relationship. I don't think he ever got over that. He blames Ben. And that's pretty much that."
It hurts. Even after so long, hearing it hurts. At least she feels some remorse. But somehow, that makes it worse.
"Uh, I gotta get some air." Ray said, standing up.
"Ray..." Catherine started to get up as well.
"Hey, I'm not mad or anything. I'm just...I just need a little air." He smiled, and left the cabin.
"He needed to know." Fraser said, laying his hand lightly on Catherine's arm.
"No he didn't."
"Let him go."
"What?" Catherine jerked her arm away.
"I said let him go. He doesn't need to be a part of this."
"Because you're using him, Catherine. He doesn't deserve that."
"What makes you think I'm using him?"
"Well, it's rather obvious..."
"No, Ben, it's not rather obvious."
"I don't understand..."
"Neither do I." Catherine sat back down with a sigh.
"What do you mean?"
"Never mind, Ben. It doesn't matter."
"But it does. Ray is my friend. I don't want to see him hurt."
"I'm not going to hurt him."
"Catherine, I hate to say this to you, but it's the truth. You...use people. You always have. I don't think you mean to, but you do. And you end up hurting them.
"I won't hurt him. I..." Catherine turned her head and mumble something that Fraser didn't catch.
"I won't hurt him because I love him!"
Ray wandered the streets, mulling over the nights revelations.
I knew they had a history. And I knew Fraser still had a thing for her. It was obvious. When she started talking about the past, he got all out of focus. But I still don't know how she feels about him. She avoids it whenever I bring it up.
Ray kicked at the snow. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of black. It looked like someone had turned down a small alley way behind him. Ray turned, and went to investigate. Sure enough, there were tracks leading down the alley. They had to be fresh, as it was snowing.
Wonder who's running around a little village in the Canadian wilderness at this time of night. Besides me. Ray followed the tracks to a small abandoned cabin on the edge of town. There was light streaming out from under the door. Ray crouched down under a window and looked in. he almost didn't believe what he saw.
Devin Aswell was standing the center of the one room cabin, naked except for some sort of black skirt thing, and he was standing on some sort of chalk design on the floor. Candles were all over the room, along with incense. A dead chicken lay on the ground in front of Devin, its head missing. The floor was spattered with blood, and it looked like other designs had been drawn in it. Ray felt his stomach churn at the sight.
If I ever doubted Cat, I'm never gonna again. This guy is into some bad mojo of the Satanic kind.
As Ray watched, horrified, Devin dipped his finger in the chickens blood and drew a strange pattern on his chest. The blood seemed to glow in the dim light. Ray's eyes were adjusting to the odd light, and he saw that Devin was facing an altar. It had a statue of a deformed man-creature, and a bowl of rice in some sort of red liquid. Ray guessed it was blood. A book lay open in front of the bowl.
"Immortalia dias ex Tartarus, ego nomine tu!" Devin raised his arms and began to chant. "Dias ut igne, aque, celeres et terra, ego nomine tu! Potentia id! In nomine quatro elementia, ego dico tu!"
A wind sprang up out of nowhere, bursting through the door. Oddly enough, none of the candles went out. The wind swirled the snow into the cabin and around Devin in a spiral. The snow had taken on a deep golden color. It enveloped Devin, twisting around him faster and faster.
Ray's blood was racing, and his heart was pounding. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. He was frozen in fear, too frightened to even scream. He wanted to run, but he was paralyzed. Devin was still chanting, and the wind had broken apart, shooting off in five directions. One burst through the window, shattering it, showering Ray with shards of broken glass. That broke his paralysis. He leapt to his feet and ran back to Catherine's cabin, praying to whatever benevolent god watched over him that he hadn't been seen.
Ray's been gone almost an hour. I'm worried. My words to Benton were true. Despite by best efforts, I've fallen in love with Ray Vecchio. Or should I saw Ray Kowalski. I knew he was not who he said he was immediately. It took Benton to supply his identity.
And I do love him. I am Nadine, and the Dark Man is coming for me. But that is the least of my problems. My monthly flow is late. I have good reason to believe I am with child. And it belongs to either Devin or Ray. I cannot be sure which. I can only pray that it is indeed Ray's. If it is...
We could be a family. I would enjoy that, I think. To be a mother, a wife. He'd have me, I know. He loves me. We love each other. And it feels good. It feels warm. Not hot and burning, as it had been so long ago. I was never in love before. Lust, yes. But never love. Lust is a trap. Love is being set free.
Fraser sat on the couch, rubbing his temples. He wished he had never left the Consulate. Of course, wishing did absolutely nothing.
Ray's been gone an awfully long time, Fraser mused. I wonder what could possibly be taking him so long. Unless of course he skipped town, but I highly doubt that. At that point the door banged open, and Ray burst into the cabin, dead pale and breathing hard.
""Ray? What happened?" Fraser leapt up, and went to help his friend, who looked like he'd faint any minute. It was only then that he noticed the trickles of blood on Ray's face.
"Devin!" Ray gasped. "He's here. Chicken...and the wind! It was...Catherine was right!"
"Right about what? Ray, you're blithering."
"About the magic! Catherine was right about the magic."
"That's absurd. There's no such thing as magic."
"No! I saw it! He was in a cabin, and there was this dead chicken, and symbols. He started chanting, and the wind came! It was...I haven't been that scared since that bank robbery when I was twelve."
"How did you see all of this?"
"I saw something. I followed it. It was Devin. I looked through a window."
"Where you seen?"
"Don't know. Hope not." Ray sat down, still panting. "Where's Cat?"
"In her room. She...well, we...that is..."
"You what?" The suspicion in Ray's voice was evident.
"We had a falling out, of sorts. She's quite upset with me."
"Oh. Well, I better tell her what I saw."
"Ray...are you sure you saw what you saw? Could you have perhaps... misinterpreted?"
"Fraser, you do not misinterpret a headless chicken and a golden wind. It just isn't possible." Ray shook his head, and went into Catherine's room.
He had to have been hallucinating. That's the only reasonable explanation. Lack of food, sleep, and stress. And at night, things often aren't what they appear to be. There is no such thing as magic. Not that kind, anyway. I don't think...No. I have seen many things, but never magic. The only Devil I know is not the Lord of Hell, rather the devil of mans own making. And while that devil may damn men's souls, he certainly doesn't trade them dark power for it.
"I saw it!" Ray burst through Catherine's door, not even bothering to knock. Catherine was sprawled out on her bed, and when she looked up, it was obvious she had been crying.
"Cat! What's wrong? Fraze said you guys got in a fight or something."
"It's nothing." Catherine wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. "What did you see?"
"Devin. He was doing some sort of hocus-pocus. Cat, it scared the shit out of me. I mean, we're talking dead chickens and the whole shebang."
"But Devin's not here!"
"He is! I saw him. He's hiding out in some abandoned cabin on the edge of town. I was walking, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I don't know why I followed him, I guess I just figured anybody out this late had to be up to no good. I watched through a window. He was chanting in some funky language, and there was this wind. It came out of nowhere."
"Oh god, you're bleeding." Catherine sat up, and brushed her hand against Ray's face. It came away with blood on it.
"I uh, I didn't even realize. It musta' happened when the window broke." The adrenaline was starting to fade, and he was becoming aware of tiny stings on his face, back and arms.
"Window? I'm going to get some water, Band-Aids and a cloth. Then you're going to tell me exactly what happened." Catherine left, and Ray was left alone in the room.
Damn, that hurts. I didn't even notice I was cut. Oh, crap. I've got glass in me. Ray picked at the translucent shard stuck in the back of his hand. He had instinctively shielded his head with his hands when the window burst. But glass had still managed to find his face.
I still can't believe what I saw. Hell. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't believe it either. I hope he didn't see me. If he saw me, I am in deep shit. But I don't think anybody followed me. Unless he had to finish his ritual before he could...
Before Ray could think any more dark thoughts, Catherine returned with a box of Band-Aids, a bowl of water, a cloth and Fraser. Fraser had what looked like a tape recorder.
"I'm going to clean you up. I want you to tell me everything. Don't leave anything out." She sat next to him, and dipped the cloth in the water.
"What's up with the tape recorder?"
"You said he was chanting. I want to see if we can translate it. If we're lucky, it's in a language at least one of us knows." She started wiping the blood off of Ray's face. Fraser pressed record on the tape recorder.
"Start whenever you're ready." Catherine's hands were gentle, and she spoke softly.
"Uh, I was walking and I saw something dark out of the corner of my eye. I turned, and I walked over to where I saw it. There were tracks, so I followed them. There was this cabin, and there were lights on. I looked in a window, kinda crouched down under it, you know? Devin was in there, in a black skirt. There was this dead chicken in front of him, without a head. He had all sorts of symbols drawn all over the place, and an altar with a statue on it. It was really dark.
"He drew something on himself with the blood. Then he lifted his arms up, and he started chanting."
"What did he chant?" Catherine asked, applying Band-Aids to the more serious cuts.
"Um...I don't know. I don't remember."
"It just happened. Try. You have glass in you." Catherine pinched the glass and deftly pulled it out.
"Okay, um, something like...: "Immortal dia...um...Tartarus, ego...nominay... too...Dia...ingay...,aqua...kelares...uh...terra. There was more, I know. Hold on, I think I can remember. Um, ego nominay, potent in nominay, quatro...that's all I can remember. Then the wind came. It was gold. It broke a window, and I ran."
"Latin." Fraser and Catherine said together.
"Well, what does it mean?" Ray asked. Catherine had finished bandaging him.
"Well, from what you said, he was calling on the god of the underworld. The god of the four elements. Fire, water, air and earth. I'm assuming that he was invoking a spirit." Catherine shot a look at Fraser.
"I told you he was using black magic! I wouldn't lie about something this serious."
"I think perhaps Ray may be.."
"May be what?"
"Well, that with the snow, and the darkness..."
"Hey!" Ray snapped, suddenly defensive. "I know what I saw!"
"You just can't be wrong, can you?" Catherine placed her hands on her hips. "Just because something doesn't fit into your file-cabinet world doesn't mean it doesn't exist!"
"I never said it didn't exist. I simply said..."
"No! You said to me when I first asked for your help that magic of this sort doesn't exist! Now you have proof, and you still won't admit I'm right!"
"I don't have proof!" Fraser was raising his voice, and Ray wondered what could have possible happened while he was gone. "All I have is his word on what he may or may not have seen! That's hardly reliable proof."
"Hey!" That hurt. Fraser was insinuating that Ray had made up the whole thing, and there was no way he could deny it. Everyone was silent. That one sentence said volumes. Undercurrents were surfacing now. "Look Frase, if you've got something to say to me, say it. Don't keep it in until something like this happens."
"I have nothing to say to you. I apologize for losing my temper."
"No. I've been a prick to you all week, but you're ticked about something too. I can tell. You get all quiet and over polite. So, spill it."
"I'd really rather not..."
"Don't hold back on my account." Catherine said. "I...I don't want to be the cause of any problems between you two. I'll leave the room, if that's what you want."
"No." Ray said, at the same time Fraser said yes.
"No. Anything you gotta say to me, Cat can hear. Damn it, she should hear. Cause I'd be willing to bet my life savings that it's about her." He's not gonna get out of here until he talks to me. He's jealous, or something. But he's gotta get it out. And damn it, I gotta hear it from him.
"I...I feel uncomfortable...it's the situation, you see..."
"God damn it, would you just come out and say it? Forget the pretty words, and the proper grammar! Just spit it out!"
"And what is it you want me to spit out Ray?"
"That you're jealous!" There, it was out. "You're jealous of me and Catherine. Don't even try to deny it! You've still got the hots for her! If you didn't, you wouldn't be here. You wouldn't of run off. Not with the way things were back home. You didn't come out here to help me. You came out here to keep me away from Cat. And you couldn't!"
"Is that true?" Catherine turned to Fraser. There was no contempt, or anger, or anything else in her voice. It was just a simple question. But one that demanded an answer.
"Yes." The word was small, but it hung in the small bedroom, falling slowly, and leaving silence in its wake. Catherine looked at the floor, as did Fraser. Rays' eyes darted between them both.
He said it. I mean, I knew, but he admitted it. Everything's...different now. And right on top of Devin...Things are happening too damn fast. I can't take it. I shoulda' just kept my mouth shut. I shouldn't have pushed. But I did, and now everything's fucked.
Everyone is silent. We are at a crossroads. It is up to me to pick the fork. But which way do I go? I have two paths. Both are foggy and overgrown. And neither one will be easy going.
I can either follow up on my vow. I can make Benton say the words. He'll say them, now. He's come this far, he'll finish the course if I give him that option. He won't turn back. Benton Fraser finishes what he starts.
Or I can let it drop. I can tell the truth, and all of it. I can tell Ray the true reason I went to him, and the way I feel about him now. I'll hurt him, but that's unavoidable. Either Benton or I will hurt him. he might as well be hurt with the truth.
The silence dominated the room, heavy and thick enough to cut with a knife. No one spoke, or even looked at each other.
I can't believe I said it. I hadn't even admitted it to myself, but it's the truth. Deep down, it's true. I am jealous. But not the way Ray thinks. It has nothing to do with the physical. It's a purely emotional reaction. I'm envious of him because Catherine truly loves him. I never thought it was possible for her to truly love anyone. That it is my best friend simply makes it...unbearable.
She told me she loved me. I almost believed her. But actions speak louder than words. Had she remained faithful...But she didn't. Fraser swallowed hard, wracking his brain for something to say.
I wish I could make them understand. I'm happy for them, I am. I just...I suppose I'm just lonely. Is that a crime? Jealousy and loneliness are the closest companions. They walk hand in hand, and I am victim to them both.
"Ray..." Catherine spoke his name softly, still looking at the floor.
"I should leave." Fraser said. Ray remained silent. He didn't know what to say. Everything was so screwed up.
"I think that would be a good idea." Catherine said, and Fraser left.
"Look, I shouldn't have pushed him." Ray said, sighing and sitting back down. Some time during the course of events he had stood up.
"No, it's alright. Ray...I need to talk to you." Catherine sounded so tired.
"Sure. What is it?" Ray felt dread building in the pit of his stomach. Besides sounding tired, Catherine sounded serious. She's gonna tell it's been fun, but she's still in love with Fraser, so adios. I know. I can tell. I knew it the minute I saw them together in the Consulate. What would she ever want with me, anyway? I'm not meant to be with the beautiful people.
"I need to tell you something. And you're going to be angry. I'm not going to ask you not to be." She sat with him, and took his hands. "It's about...why I first went to you. In Chicago. I said a lot of things that night. About love. And I meant them. I do believe in love at first sight. But that was probably the only truth I told you."
"What are you saying?" Ray asked, even though he knew the answer. She never felt anything for me. She was just...I don't even know what she was doing. Using me.
"I was angry. And hurt. You were the only other person I knew in the whole city...and you were Ben's friend. I was mad at him. I wanted to hurt him. I figured that by...well, you know, I could get back at him. Make him jealous. And I really did need help."
"You were using me."
"Yes." There were tears in Catherine's eyes, but Ray knew they were fake. "I'm so sorry. But, please listen to me! I do love you. I didn't want to...but I do."
"Oh, cut the crap."
"I'm serious now. I thought I loved Ben, but I don't. I might have. A long time ago, but I don't anymore."
"Why the hell should I believe you? You lied to me before, how do I know you're not lying to me now?"
"You don't. You just have to take my word for it."
"You're word doesn't mean shit. How do I know you haven't been screwing Fraser's brains out when I wasn't looking? Or Devin's, or anyone else's? Huh?" Ray was angry beyond rational thinking. She lied to me. She lied to me, and she used me. And now she expects me to believe the shit she's trying to serve me now? I don't think so.
"I swear to you! What I'm telling you now is the truth. If you want to leave, you can." She looked away, and dropped his hands.
"Don't think I'm not gonna. I wouldn't stay another night with you if you paid me. In fact, I'm leaving now. So if you've got anymore confessions, spill'em now."
The door is open. He has invited disaster, and its name is Catherine. I have to tell him, and that it is his. I know for sure now, that I'm not mistaken. He may not believe me, but I have to try. I have to keep him here. If he leaves, he'll take everything. Every hope, every dream, every longing I ever had. He is what I thought I'd never have. Love. Love in the truest, purest form. I told him the truth. The whole truth. I bared to him my soul. Never in my life have I ever done that to another human being.
But truth is a double edged sword. It hurt me to tell, it hurt him to hear. And he will leave if I don't tell him. I have no other choice.
Fraser immediately left the room and began packing. The sooner he left, the better. Tempers were high, and the situation had grown far too awkward. He had written a note, and was planning on slipping out unnoticed.
"Benton Fraser. How nice of you to return home." Fraser jerked around to face the speaker. He hadn't even realized anyone had entered the cabin. What he saw chilled his bones.
It was Devin Aswell, alright. The same dark hair and cold eyes. But there was something different about him now. He looked...more there. He drew the eye to him, as though he were the only object in the room. He was dressed in black jeans and a black sweater. He looked decidedly malevolent.
"Devin...what?" Fraser suddenly couldn't put his thoughts into words.
"It certainly took you long enough. Ten years, is it? Have you come back at the beck of your whore? Sorry to be the one to tell you, but she's mine now. She needs a bit of training, but I think she'll suit me nicely as a wife, don't you?" Devin grinned, and Fraser felt very uncomfortable.
"What are you doing here? I thought you were...in...Inclid." Fraser head was beginning to get heavy and foggy.
"Sorry to disappoint you, but I've been here all along, as I'm sure your American friend has already told you." Devin sat down and stretched out. "It's a pity. I always liked you Benton. On some base, admirable level."
"A pity? I don't understand." What is he doing here? Why aren't Catherine and Ray coming out to see who I'm talking too? Are they that used to me talking to thin air?
"A pity I have to kill you. And your American friend. I was going to kill him anyway. He's been touching what isn't his. But, now that he knows, I have an even better excuse. And I know he's told you. So I have to kill you, as well." Devin stood up, and Fraser could swear his eyes started to glow. A dim, hard gold.
"Devin..." Fraser tried to back away, but he was frozen to the spot. He tried to scream, but his vocal chords were tight in his throat. Devin was coming closer, and there was no way to escape.
"I'm pregnant." Two simple words that made Ray stop dead in his tracks. His mind stopped functioning. The world stopped.
"You're...what?" The words were gasped out.
"Pregnant." Catherine repeated. She was looking at her hands, which were folded in her lap.
"Well, you picked a fine time to tell me!" Ray was still angry at being deceived, and this...this was more than he could deal with.
She's gotta be lying. But, this isn't something she can lie about. She's gonna start getting big. Or she should. Pregnant? I can't deal with this. Not now...
"I'm sorry. I just found out."
"From a doctor right?"
"Yes." Catherine was still speaking in a quiet monotone. This isn't like her. This is bugging her. Maybe 'cause she thinks I'm gonna leave her. I'm not gonna. I've always wanted kids. I don't care who gives'em to me. And if she really does love me...
"You don't think I'm gonna...abandon you, do you?"
"I don't know." Catherine sighed. "But I had to tell you the truth before I told you about...this. I couldn't let you love me under false pretense."
"Well, I'm still pissed. But, if you're really pregnant, then I have to stay. I can't run off on you. That'd be...wrong." She thought I was gonna leave her. What kinda guy does she think I am?
"I do love you." The words were so small, and so sad. They were more of a plea than a statement.
"Okay. Okay, you love me. Look, we've got bigger problems. Let's go talk with Fraser, and see what he's got to say about all of this. He's the smart one." Ray gave Catherine a weak smile, and opened the door to the living room. What he saw made his blood freeze.
Fraser stood in the middle of the room, looking like a deer caught in headlights. Devin was advancing on him, his eyes glowing a sickly yellow. His hands were held out in front of him, and they glowed with a white light.
"Ray, what's....Ahhhhhhh!" Catherine screamed, coming up behind Ray. That distracted Devin, He took his eyes off of Fraser. Somehow, that broke whatever power he had. Fraser leapt out of the way just as Devin hurled a bolt of white light at him. Ray thought fast, and grabbed a paper weight off of the table and hucked it at Devin. It didn't hit, but Fraser's kick did. Devin stumbled, and began retreating, hurling light-bolts left and right.
One of them hit Ray, and he lost all consciousness.
As soon as Devin took his eyes away from Fraser, he was able to move again. He leapt out of the way, diving onto the floor. A second lighter, a ball of light crashed through the air where he had been.
I'm dreaming. Dear god, let me be dreaming! But the bolts of light were still being hurled in every direction. Ray threw a paper weight at Devin, but it missed. Fraser braced himself on his hands, and kicked out with all of his strength. Devin stumbled, but still hurled the light-bolts. One of them hit Ray, and he went down.
Catherine, who had been standing in the doorway, finally began to move. She ran at Devin, a lamp in her hand. Fraser tried to get up, but he felt weak through his entire body.
"Cat! No...he'll kill you!" Fraser managed to gasp out. He was too far away from Devin to do anything.
"You bastard!" Catherine hurled the lamp at Devin. He dodged it, and laughed.
"Do you really think you can stop me? I am all powerful. Oh, Catherine. We could have had such a life together. We should have! Why'd you have to go get mixed up with that American trash?"
"You aren't all powerful." Catherine said. "That's not possible. Even if you did sell your soul, it's not worth that much."
"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" Devin laughed. "No, my dear. I am all powerful. For this realm, anyway. And it will be mine."
"You're insane! You can't take over the world! You'd have to destroy it first!"
"Perhaps. But an end by any means, Catherine dear. Isn't that your slogan?" he grinned maliciously.
"So what now? Are you going to kill me too?" Catherine was completely defenseless. She should run. Get out. Why can't I move? This can't be happening. There's no possible way this could be happening...
"Of course not. I kill you, I kill our child as well."
"NO!!!" Catherine lunged at Devin, clawing at him. He caught her by the wrists and held her .
"Oh yes. You thought I didn't know? I know everything. I know the way you fell for that...trash. But you are mine! My mark is one you. You're carrying my child!"
Fraser lifted himself up on his arms. It was getting easier to move. He crouched down, looking for an opening. Devin seemed intent on Catherine. His child? Thank god Ray...can't hear. Fraser looked over at his friend. He couldn't tell whether he was just unconscious or...
"You're lying." Catherine sobbed, she was crying now, and Devin was holding her so tightly about the wrists she had begun to bleed.
"Would that I were. I could kill you. But now I have to keep you alive. At least until the child no longer needs you."
"What's so important about it, huh?" Catherine was writhing, and trying to pull away.
"You thought I slept with you because I had feelings for you?" Devin laughed long and hard. "My dear, that is amusing. You're special, Cat dear. You have the gift, even if you don't realize it."
"What gift?" Catherine had stopped struggling, and was listening intently now. Fraser crept around behind Devin, waiting for an opening.
"What gift, she says! What gift? Are you really that stupid, or are you just stalling?"
"No, Devin, I swear! I don't have any idea what you're talking about!"
Devin was focused solely on Catherine. Fraser tensed himself, trying to focus all his strength. He'd only have one chance at this, and he wasn't going to waste it. He was close enough now, and Devin still hadn't noticed him. He raised himself to a crouch, and grabbed Devin around the legs, toppling him to the floor. He let go of Catherine with a gasp.
"What..." Devin tried to twist away, but Fraser had him tightly around the legs. Devin swiped his arm at Fraser, catching the Mountie on the face. But not before Catherine had kicked Devin in the face. Blood burst from his nose, and he stumble to his feet. Fraser pulled his knife out of his boot, and sunk it into Devin's leg.
"You hurt me!" Devin yelled, blood pouring from both his wounds. Catherine backed away, groping for something else to attack Devin with. She grabbed a letter opener, and stabbed him in the stomach. He doubled over, clutching the new wound.
"Don't think you've won!" He shouted, raising his arm. He chanted something, and disappeared in a flash of light.
This isn't happening. Devin is lying. He has to be! Oh, god, oh god, oh god. It hurts so much, where he touched me it hurts. It's bleeding. But he's gone, he's gone. And Ray...Dear god, Ray! Knocked out, or dead? Please, not dead. I can't take it. He mist live! If I have power, I can make him live!
But I have no power, no gift! I am a simple woman! I have deceived, true, but never in a supernatural manner. Devin lies! He is a dog, not worth my spit! He will pay for this, if it takes my last breath, I will make him pay. But Ray, I must help Ray. He must live!
He is lying in the doorway, and there is blood on his chest. I'm afraid to look. Benton is there, crouched next to him, searching for a pulse. I'm not breathing. I can't until I know.
Benton takes his hand away, and rubs his eyes. He's...crying? No! Please, no. I'll give anything, I swear! Take anything, but spare him! He is an innocent! I am to blame! I pushed Devin to this, I goaded him on. If anyone deserves to lose their life tonight, it is me.
Benton looks to me, tears in his eyes. I'm crying as well, but I still can't breathe or speak.
"It's faint." Benton says, and I'm confused. But Benton continues. "I don't know what to do. I doubt any doctor would either. The wound is...not natural."
I breathe now. Ray is alive. Severely wounded, but alive. I rush to his side, to inspect the wound. Benton has pulled off Ray's shirt, and there is a ragged, black hole in his chest. It is coated with blood, and the flesh at the edges is burnt. Ray's skin has gone pale, and he is barely breathing. The wound seems to be glowing, a dull gold.
"I don't know what to do." Benton says again. I lay my hands on the sides of the wound. Devin says I have the gift. If I do, then I should be able to use it! I try to feel the pain, feel the taint, but all I feel is blood and burnt flesh. I take one of Ray's hands in mine, and rub it, willing my life-force into him. I don't know what to do, either.
"No! I can do it, I have to!" I take both his hands in mine. I try top find the peace inside, but it's so hard. There is no peace in me. It is all turmoil.
"You've studied the magic." I say to Benton. I know he has. "You must know something."
"I don't. Not for this. I never even believed what I read. I thought it was just legends. I can't help you."
I've read too, but I was never one to retain knowledge. I wish I could, I wish I'd paid more attention. Ray's life is in my hands, and I fear they are clumsy and inept.
"Go in my bedroom." I say. "Look for any books on the White Arts that you can find. I must have some."
Benton nods, and leaves. I am alone with Ray now. I am on fire inside. I have never before felt as helpless as I do now. Ray's breathing is growing weaker and weaker. The wound is glowing bright gold now, and blood is starting afresh. But I will not give up!
"You will not die!" I put my hands on the wound again, and this time I feel something. It's faint, but it's there. I can feel something, inside me, but I don't know how to get to it! Devin's power came from hate, mine will come from love. Is a chant needed? Do the words matter, or simply the meaning, the desire behind them. I decide now is the time to find out.
"Immortalia dias ex celeres! Ego nomine tu!" I can feel whatever's in me grow. It is warm, and bright. I close my eyes, trying to see it inside me. I call again to the God's of Heaven. "Servus me ammo! Ego dico tu, id vivus!"
My hands are glowing now, a deep violet. It envelops the gold, forcing it back. I concentrate, pushing the gold to the center of the wound. Clean, healthy flesh follows in its wake. Soon, the wound is gone, and all that is left is dried blood.
"I couldn't find..." Benton stops, returning to the room. I am exhausted. I feel...drained. Empty. The something inside me is gone. But Ray's breathing is growing steadier, even as I fall to the floor. I have saved him.
Ray was floating in a dark place. There was no feeling, except for the burning pain. That was everything. There was no time, no light, no sound, nothing. But the pain, the pain was spreading and becoming unbearable.
Never knew anything could hurt so much. Am I dead? Can't be dead if I'm in pain. Can I?
"You aren't dead." The voice came out of nowhere. It had no origin. It was everywhere and nowhere. It was in Ray's head, and out of it.
"What...Who are you?"
"Who are you?" The voice responded.
"Am I dead? Are you...God?"
"Those questions are irrelevant."
"What's going on?"
"You are at the Crossroads."
"What's that?" Ray was having trouble thinking. He was on fire.
"It is the place between life and death."
"Oh. So I am dying?" he didn't want to die! He had so much he wanted to do.
"Can I...I mean, is there any way out of it?"
"So, what do I have'ta do? Whatever it is, I'll do it."
"I must ask a price."
"Sure, fine. Whatever."
"A price must be asked of you, to pay for another."
"Huh?" Ray was just confused now.
"The price may be named by one such as I, but it must be agreed upon. A mortal may cry their price to the winds, but is does no good. Only by direct interchange may a price be met. Will you pay her price?"
"Yeah. I'll pay it. What is it?"
"You have no need to know."
"But...you just said..."
"Do not question! The deal has been made! The price has been set! Be gone from this realm!"
Ray's head was getting fuzzy, but the pain was receding. He was falling, slowly and gently, to where he wasn't sure. But it felt so warm...
Ray awoke slowly. He was lying on the floor, but his head was on something very soft and warm. He opened his eyes and saw Catherine looking down at him. Her eyes were red and wet, and tears streaked her face.
"Hey...", he said, coughing. He felt blood in his mouth, and he turned his head to spit it out. His head was on Catherine's lap, and he coughed blood onto her leg.
"You're alive." It was whispered, and she started crying even harder.
"Hey, hey. Don't start crying on me."
"I can't believe it." Fraser was sitting next to Catherine, looking amazed.
"Me neither. What happened? Did the good guys win?"
"Yes, Ray. The good guys won." Catherine stroked his hair.
"Good. What happened to Damien?" Ray started to sit up, but Catherine held him down.
"You're still hurt. Just stay lying down for a little while. Devin took off. He was hurt. I broke his nose, and stabbed him with a letter opener. He's hurt pretty bad."
"Oh. So, where'd he go?"
"We don't know." Catherine sighed. "We're going to burn his cabin as soon as we can."
"What'll that do?"
"We're not entirely sure." Fraser said. "But it seems the most reasonable course of action. Especially if he kept any items of particular power."
"Sorry I blacked out there. Damn. I had the weirdest dream while I was out. I can hardly remember it. Something about floating, and paying somebody or something." Why can't I remember? It was clear a second ago.
"It doesn't matter." Catherine said. "Let's get you to bed." She helped him up, and led him into the bedroom.
"I never though Canada would be so exiting." Ray said as Catherine pulled the covers up over him.
"Hmmm. Just get some sleep. We'll talk in the morning." She turned to go, but Ray grabbed her hand.
"Stay with me?" I don't want to her go. I almost lost her today. Well, she almost lost me. But there was near losing. I lover her. I don't trust her that much, but I love her. and she's carrying my kid.
"Okay." She said, climbing into bed with him. "I'll stay with you."
Fraser knew that Ray and Catherine would stay together the night. He would burn the cabin himself. He got a can of gasoline and a lighter, and headed out to the edge of town. The cabin was dark, but Fraser had to go inside.
I have to know. If there are symbols, and dead chickens, and everything else. He opened the door, and turned on the lighter. What he saw made his gorge rise.
It looked like a slaughter house. There was blood everywhere. Headless chickens littered the floor. Draped haphazardly over the altar was what looked like intestines of some sort. And from the looks of them, they were relatively fresh.
He came back here. He's gone now, but he came back here. The floor was covered with signs and symbols, most drawn in blood. At the bottom of the statue lay a bloody heart.
Demented. Sick and demented. I never...I can't... Fraser didn't want to think about any of it. He poured gasoline over the floor, and around the outside of the cabin. He lit the lighter, and held it to the gas. The flame leapt up, catching immediately. The cabin burst into flames. Fraser quickly departed the scene.
It is morning. If I try hard enough, I can pretend the events of last night were some sort of bizarre dream. I am safe and warm in bed, and Ray is quiet beside me. But it is late morning. He is stirring, and we must talk. All of us.
"Benton's already awake." I tell him. I can hear him in the kitchen. I get up, and pull on my robe. Ray mumbles something and follows me.
"It's done." Benton says, looking up from his pancakes.
"You burnt it?" I ask, sitting.
"Anybody see you?" Ray is concerned. There is no reason to be. The clock-tower had exploded, and no one had seen a thing. Because they knew. Deep down, they knew. But they couldn't stop it, and it wasn't hurting them, so they let it go on. Now it's done, and they will continue with tier lives as though nothing has happened. That is the way of these things.
"No one is even acknowledging the fact that the cabin existed in the first place."
"Weird." Ray slides into the chair next to mine. "So...now what?"
"Well, I'm returning to Chicago. I've been away from the Consulate long enough. What you do now is entirely up to you."
I look at my hands. I don't want to make it seem as though I am in any way influencing Ray's decision.
"I've got a lot of unfinished business in Chicago..." He trails off, uncomfortable.
"There's nothing for me here." I say.
"If you want to go back home, I wouldn't mind going with you. If you wanted me."
"Of course I want you! We're gonna get married. Aren't we?" This is the first I've heard of that particular plan.
"Are we?" I haven't given my approval.
"Well, I mean, I figured, you being pregnant and all..." I suck in my breath. Benton had heard what Devin said. I shoot him a look, and hope he understands.
"We'll talk about it later. We're going to Chicago, then?" I look from Benton to Ray.
"Actually..." Benton looks down, now. "I was planning on staying."
"What?" Ray looks at his partner.
"I realized how much I missed it here. This is my home. I belong here. You're a good friend Ray, and I'll miss you terribly, but..."
"No, I get it. This is you're turf. You've been gone a long time. S'okay."
"I'm sorry." Benton offers a sad smile. I feel uncomfortable. There is a bond, a love between them. I can see it. They are close. As partners and as friends.
"I'll...pack." I say, getting up from the table. They will want to talk, to say their goodbye's, and I'm sure they don't want me there.
I go into my room, and I know this will be one of the last times I will see it as it is. I have lived in this cabin since I was eleven years old. Only once have I left to go far away, and that was only for two days. Now I am leaving for good. But perhaps the change will be good for me. This place holds bad memories now. Blood stains that will never wash away. With a mixed mind, I begin to pack.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Fraze?"
"I'm sure." Fraser smiles. No, I'm not sure. But I'm as sure as I'll ever be. Chicago has no place for me anymore.
"I'm gonna miss you." Fraser could tell Ray was uncomfortable saying the words. Fraser reached across the table and put his hand on Ray's arm.
"And I you, my friend." He smiled, and clasped Ray's arm. Ray put his other hand over Fraser's.
"Chicago just won't be the same with out you. I'm gonna get pretty damn lonely." Was Ray trying to get him to change his mind, or was he simply trying to fill up the void, avoid silence.
"Nonsense. You'll have Catherine." Then Fraser remembered. "And may I be the first to say congratulations."
"Oh, yeah, thanks." Ray had gotten fidgety, and Fraser could tell there was something bothering his friend.
"Is everything alright?"
"Yeah. I just...I'm sorry. For, ya know, yelling at yeah and all that last night." Ray smiled weakly. Last night? Was it only last night? It seems so far away now, like a dream best left forgotten.
"Don't worry about it. No offense taken. We were both extremely wrought-up. It's understandable that something of that nature would happen."
"Yeah, well, still. I shouldn't have done it. I'm sorry."
"Apology accepted." Fraser said. "When are you leaving?"
"I was hoping to leave today, if we could. I just wanna get out of this place. It gives me the creeps." Ray shuddered.
"As well it should. This place disturbs me, as well."
"I thought you were staying here?"
"Yes, I am. But the fact that something bad happened here will always be with me. That's not going to chase me away. This is my home."
"Hey, I ain't running!" Ray had taken offense to Fraser's comment.
"I never suggested you were. You're going home. I wouldn't expect you to stay in a place you don't want to, regardless. In fact, I'd be quite surprised if you had elected to stay, Catherine or not."
"Oh." Ray looked down at the table. "Sorry."
"Again, don't worry. And I will be in touch."
"Sure. Maybe we could even get together. Holidays, you know?" he sounded so hopeful, that Fraser nodded without even thinking.
"Well, I better make arrangements. Get a flight and all that." Ray got up, grabbed a phone book, and disappeared into the living room.
I wonder what's bothering him? I don't think it's simply the fact that I'm not returning with him. I thought he'd be glad to be rid of me. We haven't been very close these past few days.
"You can have the cabin." Catherine had come out of her room. She had two large suitcases with her. "I'm just taking what I need. Personal stuff. I'm leaving the rest. You can use it."
"Thank you. I alerted the Consulate of my desire for a transfer yesterday. Inspector Thatcher was less than pleased." Of course, Thatcher had also been rather upset that Fraser had left the Consulate in Turnbull's care for an extended period of time.
"I guess Ray and I are leaving today. He's getting us a plane out of here now." Catherine set her luggage down and sighed. "I'm really sorry you got involved in all of this."
"You needn't be."
"But I'm glad I saw you."
"As am I."
"Catherine, it's all right. I'm happy for you. And Ray." He took her hands. "I really am."
"Okay. Are you going to be alright out here by yourself?"
"I'll hardly be by myself. I'll have Diefenbaker."
"Hmm. Alright. I'll keep in touch." She said.
"We're leaving in a few hours." Ray said, joining them in the kitchen.
"Okay. Benton, would you mind driving us to the airport?"
"Do you have a vehicle?"
"I have a truck. You can keep it, too."
"Thank you." Fraser smiled warmly at Catherine, and felt a pang of regret for what could have been. But he wasn't able to dwell on it, for there was a scratching at the door.
"What the...?" Ray mumbled, turning around suddenly. Everyone tensed up visibly. Catherine went over to the door, but not before picking up a long carving knife. She flung open the door, and sighed in relief, then gasped.
A bloody dog sat on the front steps, whimpering and scratching at the door. He had a large cut on the side of his head, and one of his paws was missing. Fraser looked away in disgust.
"Cerebus." Catherine said, bending down to hug the dog. "I can't believe that bastard did this to you."
"Uh, feeling out of the loop here." Ray said.
"This is Devin's dog. I don't even want to know what was done to him..."
"There was blood all around the cabin when I went to burn it. And it looked like signs of a struggle." Fraser informed them.
"Poor Cerebus. I'll bandage him up, and take him to the vets. Ben, will you look after him? He's a good dog. One of the best."
"Of course." Fraser said. Catherine bandaged the dog quickly. There really wasn't that much time, but she wasn't going to leave the poor animal like he was.
"I'll drop him off at the vets on the way home." Fraser assured Catherine as they drove out to Inclid.
"Thank you, Benton. For everything." They pulled into the airport parking lot, which was really just a patch of dirt. The airport itself consisted of little more than a large cabinesque building and a runway.
"Well, this is our stop." Ray said, hopping out of the truck.
"Yes, it is." Fraser said, regretting that Ray and Catherine were going home so soon.
"We'll miss you." Catherine assured him, giving him a warm hug.
"Yeah. And keep in touch, remember!" Ray said, shaking Fraser's hand. "Ah, what the hell." He pulled Fraser into a warm hug.
"See ya Fraze. It was great working with ya. And being yer friend."
I really will miss him, Fraser thought to himself. More than I think I realize.
"See ya Fraze. It was great working with ya. And being yer friend." Ray held Fraser tightly, ashamed that he felt tears in his eyes. I can't believe we're saying goodbye. I just kinda figured he'd always be around.
"We'll miss the plane." Catherine said quietly. Ray pulled away, embarrassed. He hadn't expected to break down and hug Fraser the way he had. It just happened.
"I'm coming." He mumbled.
"Call when you get home." Fraser said, probably to hurry Ray on his way.
"Okay. You stay warm!" Fraser nodded, waving, as Ray and Catherine made their way out to the small plane.
As the plane rolled down the icy runway and sprang up into the air, Ray watched the figure of his friend dwindle until it had disappeared.
"He'll be okay." Catherine said.
"It's not him I'm worried about." Ray sighed, and settled into his seat. It wasn't very comfortable, but he didn't expect much from the little plane.
I haven't even stopped to think about Cat. She's leaving her home, everything she knows. Maybe she does love me. She could'a just stayed with Fraser. He would'a taken care of her. But she's with me. That's gotta count for something. Maybe things won't be so bad after all.
We're almost to Chicago. I am frightened and hopeful and sad all at once. I haven't lived in a city in so long. But Ray will be with me. He has become my one link with the sane world. Because even as I embrace my pregnancy, I dread it as well.
If Devin spoke truth, and I am carrying his child, what will it be? Will it be evil, dark and soulless, as its father. Or will I have enough goodness in me to overcome that darkness? I doubt that greatly. There's not enough goodness in me to fill a thimble. Which is why I'm surprised Ray has agreed to take me home with him. He could have just left me with Benton. Ben would have taken care of me. But he didn't. That has to count for something.
Catherine and Ray reached Ray's apartment at around five in the evening. The plane had encountered a storm, so they had to delay landing. Then, traffic in Chicago had been hell. Both were tired and irritable. As soon as Ray was through the door, he dumped his bags and headed for the bedroom.
"Ray! You're machine's beeping." Cat called. My what? Oh, my answering machine. I must have messages.
"Press the button, and let me know if there's anything important. I'm gonna take a shower." Ray shucked his clothes and turned on the shower. He let the water get hot before climbing in.
Home again, home again. I missed this place. Canada's great, but it's just not home. And now I've got someone to come home too. Becoming Ray Vecchio was the best thing I ever did.
Ray stayed in the shower for almost twenty minutes, before finally getting out. He wrapped a towel around his waist and reentered his bedroom. Catherine was putting things away.
"Hey." Ray said, coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her. She smelled good, like baby powder and lemon.
"Welsh left you a truckload of messages. He says he wants to see you the minute you get home. He doesn't care if you get home at three in the morning. Sounds important."
"Ah, it can wait." Ray said.
"It's your hide."
"Cat, I am tired and grumpy. The last thing I want is to go see Welsh and get yelled at for taking off."
"I think he needs to see you about something important."
"What could he possibly need to talk to me about?"
"Why don't you go and find out."
"I will go tomorrow morning when my shift starts. Okay?"
"Fine." Catherine closed the drawer and turned around. "What do you want? A boy or a girl?"
"Huh? Oh. I don't care. Either."
"Well, you're easy to please."
"Don't you know it." Ray moved his hands down to Catherine's backside.
"Hmmm. I thought you were tired."
"Not that tired." Ray pulled Catherine onto the bed and forgot all about Welsh's message.
The next morning, Ray showered, got dressed, said goodbye to Catherine and was halfway to work before he remembered. Welsh is gonna tan my hide. Oh well. At least I'm ready for it.
Ray pulled into the parking lot, and entered the precinct. All conversation stopped. Ray looked around, confused. Huey coughed, and everyone went back to what they were doing. Silently. No one looked at him, or even acknowledged him. Ray walked over to Welsh's office, but the door was closed.
"His accountant is in there." A man Ray had never seen before said.
"Oh. I'll wait."
"Is there anything I can help you with?"
"Um, no." Did I enter the Twilight Zone, here or what?
"Okay." The man shrugged, and walked away. Ray sat down outside of Welsh's office and waited. He had to wait for ten minutes before Welsh's accountant finally emerged.
"There you are!" Welsh bellowed seeing Ray. "Get your skinny ass in that office now!"
"Yes, sir." Ray leapt to his feet and followed Welsh into his office. "Sir, I know I left without much warning, but..."
"Cut the crap detective. You couldn't have picked a more...interesting...time to leave."
"Uh, sir?" Ray was confused. Welsh didn't look particularly angry.
"Sit down detective. How was your trip?"
"Um, it was fine sir." Ray sat down, suddenly wary.
"Good, good. I heard Fraser joined you?"
"Uh, yeah. He's, um, staying." Ray said.
"Staying? In Canada?"
"That's too bad."
"Sir, you said it was urgent that you see me. Are we gonna get to the urgent stuff?"
"Uh, yeah. I've got some news for you."
"Okay. Good news or bad news?"
"Well, that all depends. Are you happy?"
"Happy?" What kinda question is that. I guess. I've got a good job, a nice apartment, Catherine. "I guess."
"Were you happy before you came here?"
"No." That was an easy one.
"Well, then I guess I have bad news." Welsh sighed, and rubbed his hands over his face. Oh shit. I hope this isn't going where I think it's going. What else could be urgent and bad? That has to do with me being Vecchio. Suddenly, everything was falling into place. And Ray didn't like that place at all.
"Sir, I, uh, I think I see what you're getting at." Ray said, desperately trying to stay calm. "It's...Vecchio, right?"
"Yeah. I got word the day you left. He's been back since day before yesterday."
"So where does that leave me?" Ray asked. The world was crashing down around him.
"Actually, I have received a sudden epiphany. Fraser's staying in Canada, you say?"
"And you don't really want to go back to your old life, do you?"
"Um, no sir. I'd like to avoid that completely if possible."
"Good, good. I think I have the perfect solution." Welsh rose and opened the door of his office. "Vecchio! Get in here!"
"Uh..." Ray tried to protest, but before he could, the man that had spoken to him sauntered into the office. He was tall, with thinning hair and a large nose. He had an olive complexion and wore a gray three piece suit.
"Vecchio, sit down. I want you to meet your new partner, Stanley Kowalski."
I'm alone in the apartment. I feel so strange. I try to watch a little television, but there's nothing on. I pace, wracking my mind for something to do. What do I need here? I'll need a doctor, for the baby. And the guest room will have to be converted into a nursery. I'll have to discuss it with Ray.
He'll be home early toady. I figured out the reason Welsh wished to see him so urgently, even if he didn't. It wasn't that difficult to decipher. Poor Ray. I wonder how this will affect us. Or if it will affect the situation at all. I'll just have to wait and see.
"My new what?" Vecchio demanded, glaring at Ray.
"Partner." Welsh repeated. "Kowalski's a good detective."
"But I don't need a partner. I already have one."
"No, you do not have a partner. You're previous partner returned to the frozen north."
"Fraser went home?"
"That's what he said, isn't it?" Ray snapped. He wasn't too pleased with being partnered with Vecchio either.
"I wasn't asking you."
"Would the two of you shut up? I'm talking here. Look, you both want to work here, then you're gonna work here together." Welsh glared at both of them. "Now I want you to brief Vecchio on all your cases. I want to see some results. You both worked with the Mountie. Some of his brains musta rubbed off on one of you. Now get out."
"So...you're me." Vecchio said as they retrieved the files.
"Uh-huh." Ray didn't feel like talking.
"You don't look a thing like me."
"What is your problem?"
"My problem is..." Ray trailed off. he wasn't sure what his problem was. He was pissed that Vecchio was back, sure, but why? He was still working at the 27th. He still had his apartment. He still had Catherine. What was the problem?
"Catherine Kowalski sounds better then Catherine Vecchio, anyway." Ray muttered.
"What?" Vecchio was giving him an odd look.
"Nothing. Just mumbling."
"You knew I was coming back."
"I know. I just didn't...it didn't..."
"Yeah, I get it. It's okay. I didn't think I'd be coming back so soon, either. So Fraser's really in Canada. He couldn't stand you that much?"
"Ha-ha. No. He got up there, and that was that. He wouldn't leave for anything."
"Why were you in Canada, anyway? I asked around, but nobody knows."
"It's sorta a long story. There was some trouble in Fraze's old village. We went up to give a hand, that's all."
"Not really a long story."
"Geeze, don't be so touchy. I don't care. I was just hoping to see Benny, that's all."
"Well, I'll let him know yer back next time I talk to him. Oh, shit!"
"I was supposed to call him, but we got back so late..."
"We? I thought you said Benny was still in Canada?"
"Then who's this we? What are you, some sort of loony?"
" 'We' is Catherine. My fiancé." Whoa. Fiancé. I never thought of her like that until now. But she did say we were gonna get married, didn't she? I've gotta get her a ring.
"You're engaged? Nobody told me that." Vecchio looked pissed.
"That's cause nobody else knows. We just got engaged yesterday." Or was it this morning?
"Oh, well, congratulations."
"Thanks. Uh, you can meet her. If you want." Ray suddenly felt bad about being such a jerk to Vecchio. He didn't seem that bad.
"Okay. That'd be nice, I guess."
"You want to come over for dinner? We could, ya know, talk. We are gonna be partners. It's be a hell of a lot easier if we liked each other."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Dinner sounds alright. But first, we gotta talk about some of these cases..."
A day has never before seemed so long and tedious. There is so little to do. I've cleaned the apartment, and unpacked my things. Simply to take up time, I got dressed. Ray should be coming home soon. I suppose I should begin dinner. There isn't much in the kitchen, but I find a few cans of split pea soup in the cabinet I retrieve a pot and dump the can of soup into it. I add milk, and set the table while it heats up.
I'll need to get more food. Perhaps Ray is used to living like this, but I most certainly am not. He'll be home any minute. Of course, as I think that, the door opens and Ray enters the apartment, followed by a tall, striking-looking Italian man. I hadn't expected Ray to be bringing anyone home for dinner. I'm very glad I decided to get dressed.
"Hey Cat. This is, uh, Ray Vecchio. My new partner. Veccio, this Catherine." Ray introduces the man and myself. Veccio extends his hand to me, and I take it, and I realize something. Ray and I are seriously considering marriage, and he doesn't even know my last name.
"It's pleasure to meet you, ma'am." Vecchio says, shaking my hand. his grip is firm.
"The pleasure is mine, detective Vecchio." I say smiling.
"Um, hope you don't mind I brought him for dinner." Ray apologizes.
"It's not a problem. I'll just add another can of soup, and set down another bowl." I'm also glad I cleaned the apartment. Whether or not Ray even noticed, I don't know.
"Nice apartment." Vecchio says, sitting down at the place I set for him.
"Thanks." Ray says, joining him at the table.
"How was work?" I ask, spooning soup into their bowls.
"Pretty good. I guess." Ray shrugs.
"You've got quite an interesting fiancé." Vecchio says to me. I nearly drop the pot of soup. I shoot Ray a look, and he makes a "so what" gesture with his hands. We are not officially engaged. I told him we would talk about it.
"We're not really engaged." I say, still glaring at Ray.
"Practically." Ray says, as I sit down.
"We're just discussing it."
"We're nearly done discussing!" I know Ray is upset, but I don't care. He had no right to say we were engaged. I may be pregnant, and it may be his child, but that does not mean we're going to get married.
"Uh..." Vecchio trails off, not seeming too upset he's caused a domestic disturbance. I smile across the table at Vecchio, and he returns it.
"Vecchio knew Fraser." Ray says, shifting the topic of conversation away from us.
"Did ya?" Vecchio asks.
"Mm-hm. Benton and I grew up together." I really don't feel like getting into my past with Benton.
"He never mentioned you. So how'd you and Kowalski meet up?"
"Through Benton." I say as Ray says "Fraser". Vecchio looks at us strangely. He can tell that there is something going on that we're not telling him.
"Well...uh, soups good."
"Thank you." I say. We eat in silence for a little while. It is obvious Ray and Vecchio do not like each other much. I can't see why. Vecchio seems a nice enough man. Ray's just being childish.
This was the stupidest idea I ever had. Ray sat gloomily eating his soup. Vecchio and Catherine were chatting about this and that, and nothing in particular. Look at him. Who the hell does he think he is? He's making eyes at her. Fucking hell! He's making eyes at her!
"Oh, well, no. not really. Benton was actually a rather normal kid." Catherine was saying.
"You're kidding me? Benny? Normal?"
"Mm-hm." Catherine didn't expand. Benny. Cute. Why the hell'd he have to come back? My life was pretty sweet, now he's here. And he's flirting with Catherine. And I think she's flirting back!
"So, Vecchio, how long have you been a cop?" she's asking him questions. She's showing an interest in his life. This is not good. I wish he'd just eat his freaking soup and get out.
Unfortunately, it was at least an hour before Vecchio finally left. But when he did, Ray immediately started in on Catherine.
"What the hell was that?" He demanded.
"What the hell was what?"
"You and Vecchio!"
"What about us?"
"You were being all...you know!"
"No, Ray, I do not know. Would you please explian why you're yelling? And hwile you're at it, could you please explain why you said we were engaged?"
"I'm yelling 'cause you were flirting with Vecchio, and I said we were engaged 'cause I thought we were."
"Well, I wasn't and we're not! I was just being friendly, Ray. What was I supposed to do?"
"You were being more than friendly!" Ray was extremely upset.
"I wasn't! You're paranoid."
"No, I am not!"
"I really don't get you, Ray. You apparently want to get married, yet you don't trust me. That really doesn't work."
"So you're saying you want to get married?"
"Don't you dare try to change the subject! If you don't trust me..."
"I never said I didn't trust you. I'm just telling you what I saw, okay? You were all over Vecchio. Okay, okay, that's an exaggeration. But you were making eyes at him!"
"Ray, if you're going to get this upset over every guy I'm friendly towards, then I'm going home." She spoke quietly. "I love you, I don't care if you believe me or not, but I do. But I will not be in a relationship with anyone who is suspicious, or accusatory, or anything else. Alright?"
"Yeah. I'm sorry." Sorry I ever brought Vecchio home. He's never coming here again.
"And if you really want to get married, I'd appreciate a ring and a proposal. Call me old fashion, but isn't that the way these things usually work?"
"Yeah. Sure." Ray said. Good. Oh god. We're getting married. For real. Shit. I can't believe this. Stuff like this doesn't happen in real life. But it is!
"Are you okay?" Catherine was giving him a very funny look.
"Yeah. Never been better." I've gotta have a ring around here somewhere. Stella gave me back hers. Told me to give it to someone who really loves me. Guess that's Catherine. It's kinda funny how things work out the way they do. I guess it was karma. Or something like that.
The wedding was scheduled for March fifth. It was going to be a very small affair, with only Ray's parents and a few people from the 27th in attendance. Catherine spent almost two weeks trying to find the perfect dress. The reception would be small as well. Neither Ray nor Catherine had much money, so Welsh had graciously offered the use of the Precinct. The soon-to-be newlyweds agreed.
The ceremony passed without a flaw. Since Catherine had no family, Welsh gave her away. Huey acted as best man, and Dewey as the ring bearer. Frannie was Catherine's maid of honor. Vecchio and Ray's parents sat in the first pew, watching the ceremony. Halfway through, Ray's mother began to cry.
Catherine looked radiant in her gown, even though it was relatively simple. It had an off the shoulder scooped neck, with sliver embroidery. The bodice was form fitting, and flared out into a bell skirt. She wore white gloves and a simple vile.
It was obvious to all gathered that Ray and Catherine were very much in love. All agreed that Catherine simply glowed. No one knew about her pregnancy. All of the precinct had been invited to the reception. There was dancing, and toasting, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Ray and Vecchio made peace for that day, treating each other like friends. Frannie caught the bouquet. All in all, the wedding was a success.
And so it begins. I am no longer Catherine Deveroux. I am Mrs. Raymond Kowalski. Catherine Kowalski. Ray's wife. Funny. I never really saw myself married to anyone other then Benton. But I've been married for nearly a month now. Already we've fallen into a steady pattern. It's really quite nice.
I have an appointment today. My first ultrasound. We've made it official I'm pregnant. Everyone is tactful, and pretends as though I conceived after the marriage. Francesca is insistent she throw me a baby shower. I've agreed, not really knowing what else to do. She's the closest thing I have to a friend here.
I'm worried, though. I fear Devin may be the child's father. I can't even bear to think...No! My baby is Ray's. Ray's! It is good, and innocent, as all babies are. And everything is fine.
Ray wandered around his apartment, wondering why Catherine wasn't home yet. Her doctors appointment had been hours ago. There was no note, no message, no nothing. She was just gone.
Maybe her appointment took longer that she thought it would. Or something. She should be home soon.
Ray went about making dinner for himself. He set a place for Catherine, in case she came home. But she didn't. Ray was beginning to get worried. It was seven o'clock. Catherine should've been home by then. At seven thirty, she walked through the door, looking shaken.
"What happened?" Ray asked, rushing to Catherine and wrapping his arms around her. "What took so long?"
"I was...walking." Catherine said.
"Because I'm pregnant with twins."
"Twins?" The possibility had never occurred to Ray. Wow. Two kids. Things are really going fast now. But why's she so upset?
"I mean...how could we possibly afford twins? One child is expensive enough..."
"Cat, don't worry about money. It doesn't matter. We'll do it, okay?"
"I know." Ray held her, still not sure what was wrong. Well, she's a girl, and girls get all emotional over the weirdest things. Plus she's pregnant. She's probably gonna be like this for the next five or six months.
"I'm sorry." She said, pulling back. "It was just such a shock. I hadn't expected twins. The prospect never occurred to me."
"Me either. But I'm happy. I mean, I'm really happy." Ray assured her.
"Of course. I've got a good job, a beautiful wife, and two kids on the way. Why shouldn't I be happy? Okay, I've got a jerk for a partner, but he's a good cop. Everything is perfect."
"Good." Catherine cleared her throat. "I have to go to the bathroom."
She's acting really weird. Must be the pregnancy. Whoa. I can't believe this is happening to me. A year or so ago, I was about as low as low gets. Now I'm on top of the world. I wish this feeling never goes away.
Ray is so happy about the twins. I'm not. I'm afraid. I fear both I and Devin are right. I am pregnant with Ray's child. And Devin's.
The possibility is slim, I know, but it is there. I was with Devin immediately prior to coming to Chicago. I was with Ray that night. It could happen. Especially considering Devin is not entirely of this world. But what do I do? How can I tell Ray? He's so happy. And I could be wrong. There's a very strong chance I am wrong. Please, let me be wrong. Let me be worrying too much.
Everything is so wonderful. I have what I never thought I'd ever have. Love, warmth, a family. I'm no longer alone. I have everything my heart has ever desired. And I don't want to lose it! Especially to Devin!
Besides, Devin is gone. And I'm among friends, and within civilization. This is not some small territorial town in the middle of nowhere. This is a big city. He wouldn't dare try anything here.
Everything is going to be all right.
On September 21st, at almost exactly twelve midnight, Caroline Audrey and Alexander Daemen Kowalski were born. It was a relatively easy birth. Both children were healthy, and as perfect as any parent could wish for. Catherine, who had been nervous throughout her entire pregnancy, allowed herself to relax only when the children were brought home from the hospital, and she was able to inspect them closely.
She was satisfied with the results. Though she still had her fears. While Caroline was the nearly spitting image of her mother, Alexander looked like neither of his parents. His hair was dark, as were his eyes, and he was an unusually quiet child. He would lie on his back for hours, not fussing or crying, simply staring at the ceiling. Ray assured Catherine it was "just a stage".
Caroline on the other hand was a perfectly normal little baby. She cried and fussed, and had to be rocked for nearly hours on end before she would settle down. She fidgeted, and waved her pudgy baby fists in the air. And it was obvious to everyone that she was daddy's little girl. Ray absolutely adored Caroline. He would rock her for hours, or sit with her on his lap and talk to her. He would rush to the side of her crib at three in the morning if she began to fuss, and would feed her or rock her until she was asleep again.
A few months went by, and a few more, and the new family settled into a daily routine. Everything was normal, and good. Catherine eventually relaxed, but not completely. Alexander didn't change. And he would stare at either Catherine or Ray for long periods of time. Catherine could only Ray to whatever god or goddess who looked over them that there was nothing wrong.
"I'll get her." Ray said, lurching off the couch to retrieve his screaming daughter. She was lying in her crib, waving her arms in the air and yelling her little blond head off. Alexander appeared to be asleep.
"What is it, huh?" Ray asked, scooping the bawling bundle up into his arms. "What's the matter?"
"Urg!" Caroline grunted, waving her fists around. Ray bounced her a bit, and she stopped crying. Ray carried Caroline back into the living room, and sat down on the couch.
"What was wrong?" Catherine asked.
"I dunno." Ray shrugged, looking down at the now-content little girl on his lap. She's perfect, he thought. She's like a little tiny me. If I was a girl.
"Is she hungry?"
"Don't know. Should I try feeding her?"
"Probably. And if she's hungry, Alex probably is too. I'll get him."
"'kay." Ray was quite happy to let Cat deal with Alex. It wasn't that Ray didn't love his son, he did. It was just, something about the boy bothered Ray. It was his silence. Small children were just not supposed to act that way. God knew Ray had been quite a handful when he was little. And most likely Catherine had been as well. Alex was a bit of a mystery to his father.
"Why's he always so quiet?" Ray asked when Catherine had returned.
"He's just...well behaved." But Ray had noticed the way Catherine hesitated. It was obvious she had noticed Alex's silence.
"Nothing. I just thought babies, you know, made noise and stuff. I mean, they're what, six months? Shouldn't he be doing something?"
"No. He's a baby. A very well behaved baby." Ray looked at Alex, cradled in his mothers arms.
"Caroline's crawling already. Alex just sorta lies there."
"He'll crawl when he's ready. He's just...a late bloomer."
"If you say so."
"He's perfectly normal."
"I heard you, Cat. You don't have to make a big deal out of it." Ray eyed Cat oddly. She was acting a bit...jittery. Especially when it came to Alex. It's almost like she's hiding something. But what could it be?
"Sorry." Cat mumbled, holding Alex close. The little boy made a soft gurgle. Ray was pretty sure that was the first noise he had heard the child make.
"Is there something you want to tell me?"
"What makes you say that?"
"You've been acting really weird lately. Especially when it comes to Alex."
"Oh." She didn't expand, just looked out the window. Whenever an uncomfortable situation or topic came up, Catherine would look away. Almost as though if she believed if she ignored something, it would go away.
"Um, what's wrong?"
"No, I can tell when yer hiding something. And yer hiding something."
"It's probably nothing." Catherine said, still looking out the window.
"What's probably nothing?"
"What? Cat, please. I do not want to get pissed at you."
"Fine, fine. It was when you were out. Devin, Devin said that I was carrying his child."
"And you're trying to tell me that's nothing?!?" Ray was enraged. What the hell else is she keeping form me? Why the hell can't she tell me everything?
"Yes. I mean, it's really not. He was just grasping for straws."
"How do you know?"
"Well..." Cat trailed off.
"Did he know you were pregnant?"
"Oh, fuck! Why didn't you tell me? Why the fuck didn't you tell me?"
"Because I wasn't sure! Devin was lying! He had to be!" Catherine clutched Alex closer, on the verge of tears. "He had to be."
"Oh, god." Ray let his head drop. Caroline was fidgeting in his arms. He put her back in her crib. She looks so much like me. Maybe...maybe Devin was lying.
"But..." Catherine said, standing in the doorway.
"But what?" Ray turned slowly.
"There is a chance...a very slim chance..."
"Chance of what?"
"That one of them is."
"I was with Devin before I came to Chicago. I was with you that first night. There is a chance that one of the children is yours, and one is Devin's." She was speaking very quietly and very slowly.
"Okay." Ray tried very hard to keep himself calm. "So what does that mean?"
"I don't know. That's why I'm worried. About Alex."
"Yeah. That would explain a hell of a lot. He's not mine. He's Devin's. He's some weird freak of nature. He's probably the anti-Christ."
"Oh, calm down! Just because his father was...well, Devin, doesn't mean that Alex is evil or malignant. He's a perfectly healthy baby boy."
"Oh, yeah, six months old and hardly a peep out of him. That's perfectly normal. He's Damien.."
"Oh, for gods sake Ray. Calm down. He hasn't tried to kill either one of us. I really don't think there's anything to worry about."
"Yet." Ray said. "What about when he grows up? He could be a wha'tchamacallit. You know, a late warlock."
"Latent? I doubt it. Incipient, perhaps. But I doubt it." Cat came to him, and wrapped her arms around him. "Please, Ray. Everything is going to be okay. And I'm sorry for not telling you, but I didn't know how."
"I'm still nervous. I knew there was something weird about that kid."
"Ray! For the past six months he was your son. Now he's just 'that kid'?"
"Yeas, because he is not my son!"
"Yes he is! If not in blood, in spirit! I mean, have you ever even held him? Or rocked him? Or sang him to sleep? No!" Cat was near tears again.
"Look, I just need, time. To adjust."
"Let me guess, you're going to go for a walk? Fine! That's what you always do! So just go!" Catherine screamed, and ran towards their bedroom. Ray heard a door slam. Oh, shit. She's pissed. But so am I. She keeps hiding stuff from me. Ray went into the living room. Alex was lying on the couch, looking at him.
"What're you looking at?" Ray asked.
"Goo." Alex said.
"Hey. You're talking. Or making noise at least." Ray looked at the bedroom. The door was open. Oh great. Cat took off. Damn it.
"Where'd yer mom go, huh? Oh, like you could answer me. Actually, you probably could." Ray looked at Alex, and Alex looked back. Ray felt odd, looking the child that wasn't his. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Something's wrong. Really wrong.
Ray looked around, nervously. There was something in the air. Alex seemed to sense it as well. He started to fidget, and whimper. Ah, shit. Ray groaned, and picked Alex up. He stuck his thumb in his mouth, and laid his head on Ray's shoulder. Ray heard a thump in the hallway.
"What was that?" He mumbled out loud. He heard another thump, and another. It was almost like footsteps. Cat? Probably not. She doesn't thump. Ray reached for his gun, which was hanging from the coat rack. He cocked it, and slipped behind the door, ready for whatever was coming. I'm probably freaking over nothing, but...
The thumps were closer, almost outside the door. Ray tensed, glad that Alex was such a quiet child. The thumps stopped. Ray could feel a presence outside the door. Ray held his breath as the door swung open. I could swear that was locked...Cat did run out...but still.
Nothing happened. Ray stood there for a bit. I know there's someone out there. Doors don't just open by themselves.
"Okay, who's there?" Ray called. "I've got a gun!" There was no answer. Ray took a chance, and crept around the door. Gun first.
There was no one there.
Oh, shit. Ray looked around. There had to be someone. If not, who opened the door? And who made the noise in the hall? A flash of movement in the hall caught Ray's eye. He swung the gun at it, but relaxed a bit. It was just a dog. A dog who looked like he had been through hell and back. He had a scar on the side of his head, and one of his paws was missing.
"Did you make all that noise?" Ray asked. The dog whimpered, and shied away. There is no way a dog can open a door. Is there?
"No." A voice said behind Ray. "I did."
Ray tensed. He knew that voice. He would never forget it. His heart picked up speed, and he had to clear h is mind to keep from panicking. He turned very, very slowly, his gun out, still cradling Alex.
"Devin." He said. The man looked like hell. His nose was crooked, and he seemed to be favoring one leg.
"Who else? And do put that gun down, it really won't do you any good."
"But...how?" Ray was confused.
"Cerebus." Devin said. The dog trotted to his masters side. "If Benton hadn't nursed him back to health, I might have died. I transferred my spirit into Cerebus while my body healed. And now I'm stronger than ever. So, I'd appreciate it if you gave me my child right now. If you do, I might not kill you. Or at least, not painfully."
"No." Ray said, firing his gun. Devin didn't even flinch. As Ray watched, the bullet slowed, until it stopped, right in front of Devin. He blew on it, and it fell to the floor.
"I told you your gun wouldn't work. Now, kindly hand over me child."
"What part of no don't you understand?"
"I'm going to kill you one way or another. You and your brat, and that bitch Catherine. You can't escape. Besides, you have to give me the child."
"No I don't."
"Oh, but you do. We made a deal."
"We were in the Dreamscape together. You promised me the child."
"No...I..." Oh shit! The bastard tricked me!
"Hand it over, now!"
"No. You're not getting Alex without a fight!"
"Alex?" Devin sounded confused. "What would I want with your bastard spawn? I'm here for my daughter."
"Daughter...? But..." he's not making any sense. Alex is his...isn't he?
"That...thing is yours. Caroline is mine. And I'm here for her."
"No. You are gonna get out of here, right now." Ray fought to stay in control of himself. He knew very well he could die at any second.
"Oh, Ray. Now I see why Catherine has those bizarre feelings for you. Women always interpret stupidity as bravery. It's too bad neither one of those is going to help you now."
Ray watched as Devin stretched out his hands. He did it very slowly, almost leisurely. Bits of lightening were circling about Devin's fingers, and Ray felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. The lightening was gathering itself into a ball. As soon as he lets it go, I'll turn. If I get it with my back, at least the kid might be okay.
But Ray never had time to put his plan into action.
"What the...?" The voice sounded far away to Ray. But he knew it wasn't.
"Catherine. What a lovely surprise. I can do away with all three of you and hardly extend any effort whatsoever."
"You get the hell away from my family!"
"I'm only here for my child."
"You can't have him. he's mine, Devin, mine."
"No, no, no. You must not assume so much. That brat is yours. The girl is mine. And I'm taking her." The ball of lightening was quite large now.
"Get out of here, Cat." Ray said. "Take Alex and get out."
"No. This is my fight. And I'm going to take care of Devin once and for all, or die trying." Catherine shoved past Ray, and stood in front of him. "Come on, Devin. I'm ready."
"Oh, please. Your bravery won't matter when you're dead." Devin let go the lightening bolt. Catherine shoved Ray out of the way, and took the blow on the shoulder. Ray could smell the sickly sweet reek of burnt flesh. Catherine's shoulder was black and bleeding.
Oh shit oh shit oh shit. It's bad this time, it's really bad, and I don't think we're gonna get out of it.
"Bastard!" Catherine screamed, holding her shoulder. She got up, and Ray could tell by the set of her shoulders that she was enraged. Come on Cat, you've got power. Use it.
"You really think I don't stand a chance?" Catherine demanded. "I have the gift, remember? I have power. And I know how to use it!"
I cannot describe my rage. There are no words for it. Devin has invaded my home, threatened my family. He will not get away with it. I threaten him, fling my power in his face. I can see he is slightly shaken.
"That's right." I continue. "I'm just as powerful as you. And I will kill you."
I am bluffing. I haven't been able to call on my power since I saved Ray. But maybe, just maybe, I can call on it now. I can feel it! For the first time, I can feel it deep down inside me. I can feel it building, boiling, just waiting to be called upon.
"You're lying." Devin says, recovering.
"Am I?" I hold my hands out, much like he has done. My shoulder is on fire, but I try to ignore it.
"Yes, you are. You couldn't kill me. Even if you did have the power, you don't have the guts. You're too much like Benton."
"Benton?" I panic. What has Devin done to Ben?
"Oh, don't worry about him. He put up quite a fight, and I didn't have the time to kill him. You on the other hand, won't be so lucky." He flings another bolt. I duck, but I can feel the electricity brush past me. Why does no one notice what's going on? I have to do something. I just need to...
I pull. From inside, I pull. I pull up and out, forcing the power into my hands, visualizing it gathering. I can feel it in my hands, feel the electricity.
"What the...?" Devin is confused. I look at my hands. A small ball of violet light is gathered there. I raise it.
"I'm going to kill you." I say.
"No. You can't!"
"I can. And I will."
"It doesn't matter. The child will carry on my legacy."
"Leave the child out of it." I pull my arms back, and let the bolt goes. It arcs through the air, sizzling as it goes. It hits Devin in the chest, and plows through him. Cerebus howls, and the stench of burning flesh fills the room. Devin smiles at me, a black bloody hole in his middle. He laughs, and falls to the floor, twitching.
"Is he dead?" Ray asks.
"I think so." I poke him with my foot, and he doesn't move. He doesn't appear to be breathing.
"Oh, God." Ray mumbles. Alex is crying. I take my son in my arms, and hold him close.
"It's over. It's all over." I whisper. I carry Alex to his crib, and set him down. I look at Caroline. She is quiet. I collapse on the floor, tears streaming from my eyes. I don't know what to do. I can hardly think. I sit on the floor of the nursery, and cry.
Ray stared at the body lying in the middle of his living room. The blackness was spreading, and in a few minutes, nothing was left but ash. Ray got a brush and swept up the ashes. He opened a window, and scattered them.
I'm just gonna forget any of this freaky stuff happened. He decided. That's all I can do. It's over now, Devin is dead. Cat killed him. With a glowing ball of purple light. Oh jeez.
Ray sat on the couch. He could hear Catherine crying in the other room. When she was ready, she'd come out. But she was most likely emotionally exhausted. Ray didn't blame her.
After ten minutes, she came out. Ray explained what had happened. Catherine climbed onto the couch nest to him, and laid her head on his shoulder.
"I don't know what to say." She said. "In the movies, they always know what to say, what to do. I don't."
"S'okay. There's not really anything to say."
"I don't even want to think about anything."
"I know." Ray was silent for a moment. "What do we do about the dog?"
"Keep him. He's okay now. Devin's gone. For good."
"I'm sorry. About everything."
"It's not your fault. Devin was...well, you know." Ray couldn't bring himself to say the words. Insane? Demented? A warlock? Oh, jeez.
"Things will be better now. I promise."
"I know. We're just gonna go on with our lives. That's all we can do." Caroline's gonna be fine. Devin was probably just bluffing. A kid isn't evil. It's just a kid. We raise her okay, she'll be okay. She's my kid. They both are.
"Ray?" Cat said again.
"I love you."
"I know." And he did. He may have had his doubts, but at that moment, he knew. She did love him.
"I love you too."
As they sat there on the couch, content in one another's arms, a light snow began to fall on the city of Chicago. Pure and white as a newborn child.