My Mountie's Keeper
Ray Kowalski stared at his unofficial partner with a mixture of irritation
and disbelief. "So, what you're saying is you want me to babysit
His voice rose sharply and Fraser winced, then rubbed the back of his
thumb against his left eyebrow in a familiar gesture. "I wouldn't
put it quite
well, yes, Ray. I suppose I am."
"I don't believe this." Ray shook his head incredulously.
"Why me? Why not
" he thought better of continuing, but
it was obvious enough why Fraser had chosen to ask him. The Mountie
had barely exchanged more than a dozen sentences with Ray Vecchio since
the other detective had returned from Florida, alone.
Fraser was frowning and pouting. That was a bad sign, and Ray
changed the subject hurriedly. "You and the Ice Queen are really
gonna leave Turnbull alone for a whole three days? In charge of the
"Well, we don't have much choice, Ray. The Inspector has been called
to Ottawa, and my training course can't be rescheduled." Fraser
sighed. "And since the Consulate will be closed for most of the
well, it shouldn't be too bad." He looked at Ray
hopefully. "I'll be back on Sunday evening."
It was time to admit defeat. "Whaddaya want me to do, Fraser?"
The handsome face brightened. "Thank you, Ray. I've instructed
Turnbull to call you if anything
anything untoward should happen.
I'm sure there'll be no problem, but
Ray didn't believe that any more than Fraser did, but he shrugged. "Okay.
He's got my number at home too, has he?"
"Well, I didn't like to
but if you don't mind, Ray
"Yeah, sure. Don't want ya failing that course from worrying over
Turnbull. What is it, anyway? A hundred and one ways to sniff dog piddle?"
Ray grinned at Fraser's resigned expression. Needling the Mountie was
the perfect revenge for what he was about to endure over the next three
The phone rang beside his ear and Ray groaned as he reached for the receiver.
God only knew what time it was, and he'd been out late working the streets
on a case last night. "Yeah?"
"Good morning, Detective Kowalski." Turnbull's voice was far
too perky for the crack of dawn.
He nearly hung up again, but he'd promised Fraser
do you know what time it is? And how come I'm suddenly Detective Kowalski
again? You useta call me Ray."
"Oh!" He could practically hear the Canadian blushing.
"Well, this is official, Ray. Constable Fraser told me
it's eight a.m. Ray. Is that too early for you?"
Shit! He was going to be late for work. Ray flung the covers aside
and struggled into a sitting position while Turnbull rambled on about
a suspicious incident he'd seen on the way to the Consulate this morning.
After a yawn and a vigorous scratching of his scalp, he was ready for
a hot shower, but Turnbull was still rambling.
"So you think this could be serious stuff, huh? Like maybe conspiracy
to jaywalk, or sumthin'? Maybe we should call in the Feds." There
was a long silence. "Turnbull?"
"I'm sorry, Ray. I'm sure you're too busy to worry about this.
I'll deal with it myself. I'm sure it's nothing, and I wouldn't
have bothered you, except Constable Fraser
Oh damn. Belatedly, he felt guilty for brushing the younger Mountie
off like that. "No, Turnbull, tell me that again, about the two
"No, I really shouldn't have
well, I won't keep you any longer.
Ray." The connection was broken with
a soft click.
Two hours later Ray was at the Consulate. He would have liked to forget
about the whole thing, but he'd promised Fraser, and besides, he felt
bad when he remembered the hurt tone in Turnbull's voice. So, as soon
as he could manage to get away from Vecchio for ten minutes, he took
his car and drove over.
Turnbull was behind the desk, patiently waiting for the phone to ring,
or the Consulate to be invaded, or whatever it was he was there to deal
with. He rose as Ray walked in, but his usually friendly smile was subdued.
Better to get straight to the point. "I'm sorry about this morning.
You woke me up." That sounded more accusing than it was meant to
and Turnbull blushed vividly. "No. That was a good thing, otherwise
I would have been even later getting to work that I was." He grinned,
seeing a way out of the awkwardness. "So I owe ya one. It's just,
I'm not exactly at my best when I first wake up, ya know?"
It was obvious that Turnbull didn't know, but he accepted the
excuse, his face brightening. "I'm sorry to have woken you, Ray."
"Well, it's just as well you did. Welsh chewed me out as it was.
If I'd been any later
" he shrugged. "So what was it
all about? I didn't really take it in before."
This time he listened as Turnbull described what he'd seen on the way
to work. It seemed pretty routine; two men, too well dressed for the
neighbourhood they were in, exchanging small packages, which could have
contained anything from drugs to a deli sandwich. He interrupted the
flow of information. If nothing else, Turnbull was observant.
"Look, maybe they were up to something, but
"Oh, I'm sure they were, Ray." Turnbull smiled brilliantly.
"Their demeanour was very furtive, and they were
"Well, maybe but
they were carrying guns, Ray. Their tailoring was really
Ray sighed. "Of course they were carrying guns. This is
"A nine millimetre Beretta, which I believe is the weapon of choice
for drugs pushers in this area." Turnbull smiled triumphantly.
Ray stared at the Mountie incredulously. "You saw that from
the other side of the street, when they were wearing coats?"
"The larger man's coat swung open, briefly, and
"So it might have been a Beretta."
Turnbull nodded emphatically. "It was, Ray. I'm quite sure. I
have very good eyesight."
"Well, even if it was, that doesn't prove anything. People carry
guns, okay? It's their God given right as Americans." So why did
he feel like he was losing this argument?
"Of course, Ray. At least
" Turnbull looked at him doubtfully,
well, anyway, I understand you can't arrest them for carrying
guns, or acting furtively
"No, I can't." He turned to leave.
"So I did some sketches of them, when I got to the Consulate. Before
I called you, while the memory was fresh in my mind." Turnbull
pulled open a drawer and handed him several sheets of drawing paper.
"I thought perhaps they might be on your records. If they were
He looked at the sketches. One was a full length drawing of both men,
the other two of their faces. One was a profile, and probably useless,
but the other was full face and distinctive. Though he'd never seen
the man before, it wouldn't be hard to recognise him again.
It looked like he was stuck with this. Ray heaved a longsuffering sigh.
"Okay, when I've got some time, I'll get Frannie to do a search
for these guys on the database."
Turnbull smiled uncertainly. "Thank you, Ray. Oh! I nearly forgot.
There was a car nearby. A 1998 Buick Regal, black, with a Michigan license
plate. I wrote the number on the back of that sketch of the two men.
I'm sure the car must have belonged to one of them."
"All right. I'll check it out. But it won't be until next week.
I'm up to my ears in a double homicide." He was already halfway
to the door. "I'll get back to ya later." The main door swung
shut on Turnbull's faint protest.
That ought to have been the end of it. As far as Ray was concerned that
was the end of it. Unfortunately, Turnbull didn't seem to feel
the same way. He was there at six thirty when Ray and Vecchio walked
into the Bull Pen, bending over Frannie's desk. Turnbull straightened
with a smile.
"Hello, Ray... Detective Vecchio. I hope your investigation is
Vecchio simply scowled and walked over to his own desk. Ray stopped
for a moment to see what the pair of them were up to. Not much to his
surprise, they were searching through the police database. "It'll
take the two of you a month to get through all that crap. Why didn't
you check the license with the DMV?"
Frannie pulled a face at him. "I tried that first. Their system's
down Mr Smartypants."
He shrugged. At least while Turnbull was stuck looking through hundreds
of mug shots he couldn't be getting into trouble somewhere else. It
might be a good thing, Ray thought. "Well, good luck. I gotta go."
He went over to his desk and started checking through his messages.
He'd called in favours from every snitch he knew. Surely one of them
would come up with something... anything... the press was having
a field day with this case, and Welsh would be on their backs in the
worst way if they didn't come up with a suspect soon.
"What's he doing here?" Vecchio flashed a sour glance
at his sister and her companion. Vecchio had been in a permanent bad
mood since he got back from Florida, with not a word of explanation about
why he'd come back to a job he'd been so eager to get away from.
Then Welsh had assigned them as partners. He'd been tempted to turn
around and go straight back to the North West Territories, with or without
Fraser. And that was another sore point. Vecchio wouldn't be in the
same room as Fraser if he could avoid it, and if he couldn't avoid it
the pair of them would outdo each other in pretending they were deaf
After two nights short on sleep, Ray wasn't in the mood to put up with
Vecchio's temper. "Whatsa matter? You suddenly allergic to red?"
Looking at Vecchio's face, Ray found himself wishing the words unsaid.
But after a short, dangerous silence Vecchio simply walked away, past
his sister and through the double doors. Ray let go a breath he didn't
know he'd been holding.
"Are you two bickering again?" Frannie wandered over and hitched
her undeniably shapely butt onto the edge of Ray's desk.
He shrugged. He hadn't asked to be partnered with Vecchio. In fact
he'd rather be partnered with almost anyone else; or work alone as he
had when he'd been Vecchio. Maybe if they managed to close this
case soon he could lean on Welsh to let him work alone again.
"You find anything?" Ray glanced over at Frannie's desk, where
Turnbull was still scanning images on her computer.
Frannie grinned. "Nah, but what do I care? I got a Mountie who
wants to hang around with me at last."
"Yeah, well I wouldn't count on too much coming from that."
Ray gathered up an armful of files to take home with him. "Just
keep him out of trouble, willya? I've got enough problems right now."
He spent the evening reading over the case files, the autopsy reports,
and his own notes. He examined every photograph, searching for something,
anything he might have missed. He found nothing new, not much to his
surprise. He'd been working too hard over the last few days. He was
getting stale, too tired to be able to see what was right under his nose.
With a sigh, he tossed the last file onto the heap on the coffee table
and rubbed his eyes. Maybe in the morning
The ringing of the phone wrenched him out of a half doze and he stumbled
over to the phone to answer it. "Yeah, whatizzit?"
"Ray, I found the car again." It was Turnbull's voice, excited.
In the background he could hear traffic and the sound of people's conversations
as they passed. "It's on West Walnut Street in the 1800 block.
I'm calling from a payphone near the intersection with Wolcott Street."
Shit. "Don't you go anywhere near that car, dammit. I told
ya I'd look into it later." He rubbed his face, trying to think,
but he was exhausted.
"No, Ray, I won't. But I thought perhaps you could come have a
look at it now..." There was a slight pause. "Francesca found
the car was registered to Vincente Partello, Ray, but he doesn't have
a record, and his address is in Philadelphia."
Ray let out his breath in a long sigh. It looked like he was stuck with
this. Turnbull was just as annoying as Fraser could be when he wanted
something. "Look, I can't come tonight. Tomorrow I'll give the
local PD a call and see if they know him. Just leave it now, will ya?"
"All right, Ray." Turnbull sounded disappointed. "The
car might still be here in the morning
there are a couple
of parking violations against the car in the last week, and both of them
are from this area."
"Okay, just go home, willya? I'll meet you on the corner of Wolcott
and Walnut, say
" he glanced at his watch. It was nearly midnight,
and he stifled a groan. "
say eight a.m." He must be
out of his mind.
Somewhat to his surprise, Turnbull wasn't there when he arrived at their
meeting point next morning. Nor was the car. Ray hung around for a
while, but after fifteen minutes, when Turnbull hadn't shown, he gave
up and left. Welsh would have his hide if he turned up late again.
It wasn't like the super polite Mountie to stand someone up without an
explanation, and there were no messages waiting for him at work. But
he'd no sooner arrived than Welsh was calling both him and Vecchio into
his office for an intensive grilling on their performance.
"With all due respect, sir, there are no witness, no apparent motive,
and every snitch I know is closed up tighter than a heroin addict."
Welsh shot him a sour glance and Ray shifted restlessly.
"Perhaps if the two of you could bring yourselves to actually work
together on this case, we might see a breakthrough." Welsh
treated both of them to a prolonged scrutiny, during which they avoided
looking at each other. "Think about it detectives. You're both
good cops. You should be able to manage it."
Ray turned to leave, but saw that Vecchio hadn't budged. "Ah, sir?"
Vecchio cleared his throat. "Maybe it's just that we both work
better on our own."
"You will learn to work with each other gentlemen. I have
no intention of reassigning you." Welsh looked down at the pile
of papers on his desk. "Get on with it."
So much for his hopes of dumping Vecchio. It wasn't any consolation
to see that Vecchio was no happier about it than him. They walked back
to their desks in silence, and Ray started reading through the files
again. They'd already canvassed the area of the shootings twice, and
he couldn't think of a single new thing to do.
It would have helped if he could concentrate, but every time the phone
rang, or Frannie came past, he expected it to be a message from Turnbull.
The more he thought about it, the more worried he got.
"What's eating you?"
He brought his gaze back from Frannie's empty desk and meet Vecchio's
unfriendly stare. "Nothin'. It's none of your business."
"Fine." The thin shoulders shrugged and Vecchio lifted his
receiver and dialled out.
Maybe he should call Turnbull at the Consulate. Find out what had happened.
But when he did he got the answer phone with a recorded message giving
the office hours. The Consulate was open on Saturday mornings and it
was still only nine thirty a.m. Before he could think about what Welsh
was likely to say, he grabbed his keys and left.
The Consulate was closed. Ray hesitated for all of two seconds and then
drove over to Turnbull's apartment building, only a few blocks from where
he'd seen the car. He wasn't there, and nobody remembered seeing him
either the previous night, or this morning. With a sick feeling in his
stomach, he drove back to the stationhouse.
Frannie was back at her desk, and he hurried over with a sense of relief.
Maybe Turnbull had gotten hold of her while he was out and left a message.
But he hadn't.
"What's wrong, Ray?" Frannie looked up at him, her usual chatty
manner for once completely absent.
He shrugged. "Maybe it's nothing. I was supposed to meet Turnbull
this morning and he didn't show. He's not at the Consulate, or at home."
By the expression on Frannie's face, she was thinking exactly the same
thing he was. Turnbull was in trouble. "Where's that stuff you
got on the car? Did you find anything on the owner?"
"No, nothing. Not even a social security number." She held
out a sheaf of print-outs. "It's gotta be a fake name and date
"You're getting good at this." He grinned, distracted from
his worry for a moment. "Dammit, I told him to go home.
What is it with Mounties and this 'always get your man' stuff?"
"What's up? Fraser's in trouble?" Vecchio's voice was harsh.
Ray nearly jumped out of his skin. He hadn't heard his partner come
over. Now Vecchio was reading the topmost file over his shoulder.
"Turnbull's missing, Ray." Frannie was looking upset now.
Ray knew she liked Turnbull a lot.
Vecchio snatched the papers out of his hand and started reading them.
"You think this guy's involved?"
Ray resisted the urge to snatch them back. "Could be."
Vecchio flipped the first page over and his lips tightened suddenly.
"Then he's in big trouble. Come on." He headed out of the
Bull Pen at a run, and Ray had no option but to follow.
It wasn't until they were in the Riv that Ray had a chance to find out
what was going on. Vecchio threw the car into gear and stormed out of
the parking compound with tyres squealing. Ray hung on grimly until
Vecchio had to slow down in the busy street.
"So you know this guy? Who is he? How bad is it?"
"I don't know him, I know the name. It's one of half a dozen
he uses." Vecchio flashed him an impatient glance. "He works
for one of the Families."
Shit. "So where are we goin'?"
"There's a warehouse... he uses it to dump stuff until things cool
down. Drugs. Bodies." Long fingers tightened on the steering
wheel. "It's in the area where Turnbull saw the car."
"In the 1800 block... oh, geez..." Ray closed his eyes for
a moment. "Hey... you knew about this place, on our
territory, and you never said anything? Whose side are you on anyway?"
Vecchio laughed, but it wasn't a pleasant sound. "You still think
it's the good guys against the bad guys? Wake up, Kowalski." His
eyes met Ray's for a moment. "Let's just say I found out some things
I wasn't supposed to know about. So why isn't Fraser all over this?"
"Uh..." Ray swallowed, "...he's in Toronto on some course.
The Ice Queen's in Ottawa... I mean, Inspec..."
"I always called her the Dragon Lady." There was a grin on
Vecchio's face but the atmosphere in the car was tense. He braked sharply
as they came up on a blocked intersection and manoeuvred the large vehicle
around the stalled traffic with some finesse. Once they were through
he accelerated, rather more cautiously than he had earlier. The streets
were quieter here, but narrower.
Ray seethed with impatience. "Come on! Can't you go any
faster?" It had been almost twelve hours since Turnbull called
him. God only knew what had happened in that time.
Vecchio threw him an angry look. "Unless you want to warn everybody
in a ten block radius, no, I can't." He swerved into the opposing
lane to overtake a slower car and swerved back again just in time to
avoid an oncoming bus. The blaring of its horn seemed to make not the
slightest impression on him.
"Dammit, I wish Fraser was here." Ray stared out the window,
ignoring the buildings flashing past. It was only a few blocks now,
and his nerves were jangling. Dief would be able to track Turnbull much
faster than they could possibly find him. But then, if Fraser had been
here, this whole situation would probably never have happened.
Vecchio didn't respond, but his lips narrowed and his hands gripped the
steering wheel tighter. Without any warning he turned left down a narrow
Ray sat bolt upright in his seat. "What the Hell are you doing?
This isn't the right block!"
"What do you want to do? Drive right up to the front door?"
The words were almost snarled. "There's an access lane at the back.
We'll go in that way."
Another block down the road, the Riv slowed to a normal pace and turned
right. Half a block further they cruised to a stop. Ray was out of
the door almost before Vecchio pulled the handbrake on.
"Kowalski!" Vecchio gestured to a small warehouse. "Through
there. There's an overhead walkway to the next building. I'll go in
the back way."
It wasn't hard to find his way. The warehouse was empty. Ray ran up
the metal stairs to the catwalk. On the left side of the building were
the doors that lead to the walkway. He eased his gun out of the shoulder
holder and slid through the doors as quietly as possible.
The walkway was deserted, as he'd expected, and only a few paces long.
At the other end he peered cautiously through a crack in the doors.
Nothing. No sound. Releasing the breath he'd been holding, he slipped
through the doors.
This warehouse was different. There was still a catwalk around the outer
walls, but the centre was both much larger and filled with a maze of
rooms, corridors and framework built apparently at random. Some of the
rooms had ceilings blocking his view some did not. There was no sign
of Vecchio. He ran lightly around the catwalk, trying to check as many
of the ceiling-less rooms as possible.
Many of them had furniture, machinery or just piles of junk in them.
Those ones would need to be checked individually. Ray tried to fix in
his mind the locations of the rooms he was sure were empty. It was almost
impossible. Everything would look different from ground level.
By the time he'd completed the circuit of the building he was no closer
to finding the errant Mountie. At least there was no sign of any criminals
either. He hoped it would stay that way.
"Just let me find him in one piece
" Ray groaned. "Fraser's
gonna kill me."
"Keep talking out loud, and he won't get the chance." Vecchio's
voice, quiet though it was, made him nearly jump out of his skin.
Ray turned to face his partner. "No luck?"
"Nope." Vecchio gestured to the left. "I've checked
all down that side. He's definitely not there."
Ray closed his eyes, trying to visualise the floor plan of the building.
There was an area in the middle entirely surrounded by corridors. If
he was hiding someone, that's where they'd be. The only access
out of the area was by a hallway running from north to south. Great
place to set a trap.
When he told Vecchio the other cop agreed. They edged their way into
the hallway, each taking turns to cover the other. Nothing. At the
junction of the hallway with the inner corridors he went right while
Vecchio turned left.
There were rooms on either side and many of these too were piled with
junk. Luckily most of them didn't have enough to hide a man of Turnbull's
size. Even so, it was taking too long. The hairs on the back of his
neck were starting to rise.
It took a while to recognise what was happening, then Ray turned down
the long stretch of corridor that ran parallel to the central aisle and
it hit him. A faint whiff of blood. That was what had been setting
his nerves on edge. He eased his way along the corridor, following the
scent as best he could. He wasn't Dief, or even Fraser, but he could
tell the smell was getting stronger. That meant, most likely, a lot
The scent weakened and he turned back. There were only three rooms it
could be. The first room was completely empty. Turnbull was in the
second room. Ray didn't see him at first, but the smell was very strong
now and he knew Turnbull had to be in here. He made his way around a
pile of some kind of insulating material, gun at the ready. Most of
the rest of the piles of junk were too small to hide anyone, let alone
a more than six foot tall, well built Mountie. That left only one place.
A foot, sheathed in brown leather, was poking out from beneath an overturned
desk. Ray dived across the room.
"Vecchio, get over here!" He holstered his gun, then dragged
the desk out of the way and dropped down beside the prone figure. Almost
immediately he felt wetness seeping through the knees of his jeans.
His first instinct was to check for a pulse, even though he would have
sworn there was no sign of life. The faintest flutter proved him wrong.
He rolled Turnbull onto his back and the red tunic fell open to reveal
a white undershirt dark with blood at the waist. He was kneeling in
a pool of it. There was more blood than he would have believed possible.
Turnbull's face was deathly pale, where it wasn't bruised or abraded.
It looked like he'd been worked over pretty thoroughly and then shot
and left to die. He heard Vecchio's footsteps coming fast.
"In here!" To his surprise, Turnbull's eyelids fluttered and
lifted a little.
" It was only a faint whisper of breath. Ray leaned
knew you'd come." Turnbull smiled weakly.
His eyes closed again.
His hands and face were icy cold and Ray stripped off his jacket and
laid it over the Mountie. He thought about trying to slow the bleeding
and decided against it. He'd be bleeding just as badly internally, and
pressure on the wound might only make things worse.
Vecchio skidded to a halt behind him and Ray heard his quiet cursing.
"I'll call 911." A moment later the cursing started again.
"I can't get a signal. I'll have to go outside."
"Give me your coat before you go." It was going to take too
long. Ray doubted that Turnbull could last much longer, but he was damned
if he'd give up.
"Hang on." Vecchio strode back to the pile of insulation by
the door. "This might help."
Together they spread some of it out, and then went back to Turnbull.
Ray felt sick, knowing that moving the Mountie was going to cause him
agonising pain. He slid his hands under Turnbull's shoulders and waited
for Vecchio to get a grip on his legs. Their eyes met and Vecchio gave
a curt nod.
They managed it pretty smoothly, but not smoothly enough. Ray heard
a weak gasp from Turnbull and then they were moving. It was easier lowering
him to the nest of insulation. Ray kept a hold on the Mountie, supporting
him a little to make his breathing easier. Immediately the sandy head
nestled in against his shoulder.
"Here." Vecchio laid Ray's jacket over the wounded Mountie,
and then his own coat over the top. It was Armani, and practically brand
new but the other cop didn't hesitate. "I'll wait outside, so I
can bring 'em in."
They exchanged a look, neither of them believing that Turnbull would
last until the ambulance arrived, and then Vecchio turned away.
Left alone with Turnbull, Ray came close to panic. He didn't want this.
Turnbull was dying, had no chance of survival. In a few minutes, the
chances were that he'd be holding a corpse in his arms. And it would
all be his fault. If he'd only believed in Turnbull
A quiet sound of pain roused him from his funk. Here he was holding
a dying man in his arms and he was feeling sorry for himself? He raised
his free hand to cradle the sandy head a little closer against his shoulder.
"Hey, Turnbull? It's gonna be okay. You just gotta hold on for
a while. The paramedics will be here in no time, and then you'll be
There was no noticeable response, but he thought that maybe Turnbull
was reassured a little. The main thing was to keep him awake and fighting.
Only how was he going to do that?
"Talk to me, willya? Come on, man, talk
" again, it was hardly more than a sigh of breath
against his throat. Still, it gave him some hope.
He laughed shakily. "This is crazy, you know? I don't even know
what your name is." Just thinking about it made him feel sick at
heart. "So, what's your first name, huh? You gonna tell me?"
The heavy body tensed slightly in his arms. Turnbull's breathing became
more laboured still. "Ren
" a faint gasp, "
Unconsciously, his arms tightened a little. "Hey, Renny. Nice
to meet ya."
Silence. He tried again. "You gotta stay awake buddy. Talk to
There was no response, only the faint sensation of his breathing told
Ray that his companion was still alive. He tightened his grip. "Talk
dammit! You know any poetry, huh? A song, maybe?"
Nothing for a long, seemingly endless moment, and then Renny started
singing something, Ray wasn't sure what, in a weak monotone. Every other
word he paused to struggle for breath. Eventually, it sank in. He was
trying to sing 'Oh Canada'. Ray had heard it a
few times, thanks to Fraser, though he'd be damned if he knew more than
the occasional phrase. Nonetheless, he joined in as best he could, humming
where he didn't know the words.
They got through one shaky rendition and started over. It seemed to
take forever, and still there was no sign of the paramedics or Vecchio.
Turnbull's face was sheened with sweat though he was still far too cold.
The weak voice faltered and stopped.
"Come on, Renny. Don't give up on me now, buddy." He stroked
the sweat-dampened hair gently. "How did that next bit go?"
"Oh yeah. Wasn't there something about the true north next?"
Turnbull's head moved in an almost imperceptible nod. "Ray
The blue eyes, dulled by pain, met his and Ray flinched. The Mountie
knew he was dying, even seemed quietly resigned to it. "You're
gonna be okay, Renny. Just a bit longer. Help'll be here soon."
There was no answer. He could almost feel the life draining out of the
large body in his arms. "Don't give up buddy. Promise me you won't
give up." Turnbull didn't respond. The pulse under his fingertips
flickered and died for a moment, then it was back. "Promise,
He almost gave up then, but his stubborn streak came to the fore. He
started singing again, under his breath. Maybe if he did a bad enough
job of it, Canadian patriotism might give Turnbull the strength to object
By the time the paramedics burst into the room, he was convinced he was
singing to a corpse, but the paramedics obviously thought otherwise.
After a quick survey of the still figure, they were pushing Ray out of
the way and lifting the Mountie onto the gurney.
He tried to stand, and his knees gave way. Only a fierce grip on his
upper arm stopped him falling. He hadn't even noticed Vecchio come back,
but he leaned gratefully against his partner and didn't protest when
an arm went around his waist. He needed all the help he could get to
stay on his feet.
To give them credit, the paramedics didn't waste any time. In minutes,
he and Vecchio were following the gurney down the maze of hallways to
the main doors of the warehouse. By the time they got there his legs
were capable of holding him once again.
Ray moved away from Vecchio's support with a brief nod. "Thanks."
"That's okay." Vecchio shrugged. "You better go in the
ambulance. I'll wait here for the forensic team. I'll join ya later."
"Yeah." Part of him didn't want to go. He still couldn't
believe that Turnbull would survive, and he didn't want to be there when
it happened. But he couldn't let a fellow officer, a man he was supposed
to have been helping, looking after, die alone in a hospital. Fraser
was never going to forgive him for this. But then, he'd never be able
to forgive himself.
So, when the gurney was loaded into the ambulance, Ray climbed in too.
Into the stink of blood and antiseptic and the sound of a dying man struggling
to breathe in the oxygen from the mask strapped over his face. Even
in that short time, he looked worse; although that might have been due
to the mask and the IV tubes and the thick dressings taped over his belly.
He took hold of the limp hand lying on the dark hospital blanket. Turnbull's
eyelids fluttered weakly and lifted a fraction.
"Hey, Renny. You're doing good, buddy. We're nearly there now,
just hold on a bit longer, okay?" He exchanged a glance with the
paramedic, who shrugged. He stroked the sweaty hair lightly. "Just
hold on, you hear?"
He'd lost track of how many hours he'd spent at the hospital, waiting.
A glance at his watch told him it was nearly eight thirty p.m., but time
didn't seem to have much meaning any more. Ray only knew that the surgery
was taking a dangerously long time for someone as weak as Turnbull had
been when they'd brought him in. Vecchio had come in and stayed for
a while, then left a to follow up on a lead Huey had called in. Everybody
would be working their butts off to find someone who'd shot a cop, even
if the cop was a Mountie.
Besides, they all knew Turnbull and liked him in their own ways. It
was hard not to like someone so harmless, so hopeless, who still insisted
on taking himself seriously as a cop. He should have taken Turnbull's
story seriously. He should have gone to meet him when he called last
night. Ray swore under his breath. Fraser had only been gone two days.
How the Hell had things gotten into such a mess in just two days? Fraser
was going to kill him.
Startled out of his thoughts, he stared up blankly at the nurse. "Yeah?"
"Constable Turnbull is out of surgery." She smiled at him.
"He's still on the critical list, but you can see him for a few
He followed her down the hallway to Intensive Care. The room was crowded
with medical equipment, dwarfing the bed and the still figure in it.
He waited for the nurse to leave before walking to over.
Turnbull might almost be sleeping, except that his face was completely
drained of colour, and nobody slept that deeply. The broad chest
barely stirred with his breathing. As he had before, Ray took the lax
hand and held it in silence until the nurse came to take him out again.
He knew it was far from over. He'd seen wounds like Turnbull's before,
had seen people die of them. It wasn't the bullet holes that did it.
There'd been four, they'd told him, but most of the damage was internal.
Each bullet might tear or just nick the intestines in a dozen places,
and the surgeon had to find them all. Turnbull's belly would have been
full of blood and faeces. And he'd been like that for God only knew
how long. Some kind of infection was almost a certainty.
The question was, would Turnbull survive it? He'd lost a huge amount
of blood and had been close to death when Ray had found him. That wasn't
going to help. Nor the length of the operation, which would have taken
its toll on his strength. And there was nothing Ray could do except
sit helplessly by and watch. And hope against all reason that Turnbull
Fraser's voice dragged him out of a sleep-deprived daze and Ray struggled
out of the chair. "Thank God you're back."
Without a second thought he walked over to his friend and into his arms.
Fraser reacted, typically, by stiffening and patting him awkwardly on
the shoulder. Ray smiled. Some things never changed
After a moment Fraser stepped back. "How is he, Ray?"
They both looked at Turnbull. "Not good. They say he'll probably
make it, but..."
"I've called his parents. They'll be here tomorrow." Fraser
rubbed his eyebrow distractedly with his thumb. "Do we know what
Ray shrugged. "He hasn't woken yet. Did Vecchio tell you anything?"
"I haven't seen him, Ray." Fraser's gaze shifted back to the
bed. "Lt Welsh gave me all the information he had, but it wasn't
a great deal."
"Yeah, well we don't really know much. My guess is he was taken
off the street. They probably recognised that damn uniform from the
morning and took him to find out what he was up to." Ray sighed
and went over to the bed. Turnbull was still deeply unconscious, his
chest rising and falling with slow regularity, about the only improvement
he'd shown. He touched Turnbull's arm lightly.
A hand came down on his shoulder. "Don't blame yourself, Ray.
Nobody could have foreseen something like this."
He shook his head tiredly. "I shoulda paid more attention."
"You were already heavily involved in a difficult case. Turnbull
could have been completely mistaken in his assumptions
"If it had been you I would have taken it seriously, Frase.
But because it was Turnbull I didn't, and it nearly got him killed."
He turned to look Fraser in the face.
" Fraser sighed. "Lt Welsh asked me to tell
you he's reassigned the case you were working on to another team. You
and Ray are going to work this case."
"All right." Ray turned back to the chair and dropped into
it. He rubbed his aching temples. "I'll stay here till he wakes.
Then maybe he can identify those bastards and we can pull them in."
Next morning, Turnbull still hadn't woken. The only consolation was
that everybody seemed to think that he was out of danger. He ought to
go home. There was nothing he could do here until Turnbull woke, and
he badly needed a wash and a shave. Vecchio had brought him some clean
clothes and taken away his bloodstained jeans and shirt that first day,
but that was all. He couldn't remember when he'd last eaten.
He stood, but couldn't quite make himself walk away. When the door opened,
he turned to it in relief. The senior nurse smiled at him then stood
aside to usher in an elderly couple. The woman could have been anyone,
but the man was unmistakably a relative of Turnbull's. It took a moment
for the realisation to sink in. They could only be his parents. They
looked old enough to be his grandparents.
Mrs Turnbull made a sound of distress at the sight of her son, but hesitated
before moving towards the bed. Her husband turned an intimidating glare
He started towards them, holding out a hand in greeting. "Ma'am,
sir, Detective Ray Kowalski, Chicago P.D. I was working with your son."
"Hmph." The elder Turnbull ignored his proffered hand. "What
did the boy do to get himself shot? I always told him this police business
would lead to no good."
His hackles rose at the man's tone, but uncharacteristically he bit back
his immediate response. They'd travelled a long way to see their badly
wounded son; maybe it was just worry that made him seem so abrupt. "We're
still trying to determine that, sir. When he wakes, your son's evidence
Turnbull Senior scowled "I doubt it. I could never get any sense
out of him. He probably did me a favour not coming into the family business."
It wasn't often he disliked someone so intensely after such a short time.
Definitely time he left, before he popped the guy one. He looked over
at Turnbull's mother. She was standing by the bed staring down at her
son, her face creased with distress. As Ray watched, she stretched out
her hand towards the still figure, then stopped. After a nervous glance
at her husband, her hand dropped back to her side.
"Well, I have to go now. I'll be back later. If you need anything
he thought about offering his hand again and decided against it.
"That young man at the Consulate said he'd take care of everything."
Turnbull Senior sounded like he disapproved even of Fraser.
"Okay." Ray headed for the door. "Like I said. I'll
be back later."
The Bull Pen was in chaos. Huey and Dewey were working with Vecchio
on Turnbull's case, he'd been told, but there was no sign of any of them.
Frannie greeted him with demands to know how Turnbull was doing and when
she'd be allowed to visit him in hospital. Then Welsh appeared in his
doorway, and Ray's heart stood still.
"Kowalski." He turned back into his office and Ray followed
him inside and closed the door. "Any news?"
"Nossir. He hasn't woken yet, but they say it shouldn't be long
now. His parents arrived, so I left them with him."
Welsh grunted. "All right. We need his statement to pull them
in. Huey and Dewey are watching Partello. Vecchio's on the other man.
We haven't identified him yet
we don't want to scare him off by
asking too many questions." He looked Ray over. "Take a break.
Then get back to the hospital."
A break sounded like a good idea, but when he got to his apartment Ray
knew there was no chance of him sleeping. He showered, shaved and drank
some coffee, then went back to the hospital.
Turnbull's parents had left already. It didn't seem, at first, that
there'd been any change, but as Ray got closer, he could see that Turnbull
was closer to waking. He didn't look good. His eyes were shadowed and
his skin was sallow where it wasn't bruised and sweaty, his lips dry.
Ray took the small washcloth and dampened it then wiped Turnbull's face.
The long rangy body stirred restlessly and Turnbull's face tightened
"Turnbull? Can ya hear me?" Ray leaned a little closer, but
there was no response. After a moment he pulled the chair close to the
bed and sat, his hand resting lightly on Turnbull's arm, and began to
It didn't take long to cover the events of the last few days and before
long Ray was rambling, too tired to care what he said. In fact, afterwards,
he was never entirely sure what he had said. But it worked.
He could see Turnbull gradually respond to his voice until the sandy
lashes resting on his cheeks fluttered and struggled to rise.
Instantly, Ray was on his feet leaning over the bed. "Hey, Turnbull
his fingertips brushed across the damp hair before he knew what he was
doing and he jerked his hand back. The Mountie might not appreciate
such a gesture from him. "Come on Turnbull, wake up. There's some
questions I want answering."
Not much to his surprise, the Canadian responded better to the voice
of authority. A soft moan and the renewed fluttering of his lashes heralded
the moment Ray had been waiting for. Turnbull's eyes opened and he smiled
Blue eyes. Not like his own almost grey, or Fraser's slate blue, but
real sapphire blue. He'd never noticed that before. With an effort
Ray wrenched his thoughts away from the colour of Turnbull's eyes and
back to the important things. He reached for the cloth and used it to
moisten the dry lips.
"Listen, Turnbull, I don't wanna wear you out, but I gotta have
your statement that it was those two guys who did this to you. Then
we can arrest them. We've got them under surveillance right now, just
waiting for your word. You understand?"
Turnbull blinked and his head dipped in weak acknowledgment.
"Okay." He pulled out the little tape recorder he'd brought
from the stationhouse and started recording. "Record of interview
Constable Turnbull of the Canadian Consulate in
Chicago and Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski, Chicago PD. Time is
three thirty eight p.m. and we're in the Intensive Care Unit of Cook
"Constable, can you identify the two men in this sketch as your
attackers." He held up the sketch that Turnbull had given him only
three days ago.
Turnbull's lips parted but the sound he made was so low Ray couldn't
hear it. He leaned forward, holding the recorder only inches from Turnbull's
face. "Try again, Turnbull. You only need to say yes, if it's
" It was hardly more than a sigh.
He stopped the tape and wound it back. Turnbull's voice was faint,
but it was enough. Ray grinned. "Good on yer." He started
the tape again. "For the record, Constable Turnbull indicated a
sketch drawn by him of the person known by the alias of Vincente Partello
and his as yet unidentified companion. Constable can you please confirm
Turnbull managed another weak affirmative.
"Constable who shot you? Was it Partello or the other man?"
That was something he badly wanted to know. Because he was going to
do everything he could to make sure the shooter went down for a very,
very long time.
"Partello." It seemed to take every ounce of strength Turnbull
had left. His eyes closed and for a moment he seemed to teeter on the
verge of unconsciousness. Then his eyelids fluttered again and lifted.
He had everything he needed now. "Interview concludes at
three forty two p.m." He slipped the recorder back into his pocket.
"You did good. We're gonna get those bastards, okay? You just
take it easy."
Turnbull smiled again as his eyes drifted closed. Ray patted his arm
and then grinned, thinking how it was the sort of thing Fraser would
do. "Your folks are here, ya know. Got in this morning."
The blue eyes flew open and Turnbull's mouth worked briefly but no sound
came out. He didn't look too thrilled, and after meeting them, Ray could
understand why. "They're probably getting some rest, just now.
You want me to hang around till they come back?"
A brief shake of the head.
"Okay. I'll get the nurse to look in at ya. Take it easy, and
I'll be back tomorrow to visit. That okay with you?"
Turnbull seemed to be gathering his strength. "Thank you, Ray."
His voice was weak and croaky.
"Hey, I'm glad to. Yer a hero, ya know that?" He laid his
hand on the broad shoulder for a moment and then drew back as Turnbull's
eyelids drooped. He backed away carefully, but Turnbull didn't stir.
He was back at the stationhouse trying to get Welsh to let him in on
Partello's interrogation when the FBI arrived. Ray straightened from
where he'd been leaning over Welsh's desk and eyed the two agents with
Welsh appeared unmoved. "What can I do for you... gentlemen?"
The hesitation was brief, but quite noticeable. Ray grinned; Welsh was
a master at this.
"You're holding someone. We want him." It was the taller
agent, Robinson, who spoke. His companion, who hadn't introduced himself,
simply stood impassively, a step to the rear.
"Like Hell!" Ray took a step towards them, his fists clenching.
"Ray." Welsh shifted in his chair. "Your man shot a
cop. We get first bite at the apple."
Robinson's lip curled. "A Mountie."
"A cop." Ray was suddenly standing nose to nose with the Fed.
"A friend of mine."
He was ignored. "Call him off, Lieutenant. We need to talk. Privately."
"I ain't going nowhere." He glared at Robinson.
Welsh steepled his fingers and contemplated them for a few seconds.
Robinson flushed angrily. "This is..."
"He stays." Welsh sounded bored.
Ray grinned wolfishly and backed away an inch or two.
"You can have Molina, just give us Partello." Robinson had
regained his air of cool superiority.
"It was Partello who shot Turnbull." Welsh shook his head.
"We're keeping him."
"That's not acceptable." Now Robinson was starting to look
rattled again. "Lieutenant, we need to talk privately or there's
going to be more trouble than you can handle."
"So talk." Welsh leaned back in his chair. There was a long
pause. "I'm waiting Agent."
"Lieutenant we can't discuss sensitive information with your man
here." This time it was the other Fed speaking.
"Ah..." Welsh favoured him with the kind of smile that Ray
always preferred not to have directed at him. "And your
"That's not relevant."
"I see." Welsh looked at him, then at Ray.
Ray folded his arms across his chest. "I ain't leaving."
"I'm sorry, gentlemen..." Welsh spread his hands in a gesture
of helplessness. "He says he's not leaving."
"All right!" The agent's lips tightened. "This isn't
to be repeated outside this room. Partello is our man. We want him
"He's a Fed?" Ray almost choked with anger.
He was ignored. "He was acting to protect his cover. This is an
"He shot a cop, dammit! He crossed the line." Ray's fingers
were itching to strangle the other man. "He ain't gonna get away
with it." Behind him Welsh was silent, letting him set the pace
for this confrontation, but sooner or later he'd have to step in. Ray
only hoped it was after he got to break the Fed's nose.
" once again the Fed ignored Ray and
spoke past him, "
we have the authority here. We're
taking our man whether you like it or not."
Ray turned to stare at Welsh. "Lou
"I'm sorry, Ray. As he says, my hands are tied." Welsh met
his eyes calmly. Suddenly Ray grinned.
"Well, mine aren't." He turned back to the two agents. "There's
not a man or woman in this building who'll let you take that bastard
out of here once they know what's going on." Especially
"And I'm gonna blow your man's cover wide open."
He started for the door.
"Detective Kowalski?" Welsh's voice stopped him by the door.
Deliberately, Ray put his hand on the doorknob before looking back over
his shoulder. "Yessir?"
Welsh sighed. "I suppose if I were to give you a direct order in
this matter you would have no hesitation in disobeying it?"
"That's right sir." Ray grinned happily. He knew what would
"Then I'm going to have to ask for your badge. You're suspended
for the rest of the day." Welsh held out his hand.
Ray unhooked his badge from his belt and flipped it across the room to
land on Welsh's desk. He stared at the two agents challengingly.
They exchanged a frustrated glance. "Lieutenant, surely we can
come to an arrangement. Partello has been undercover for three years.
He has a lot of information we need. You're risking an operation that's
cost hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Welsh considered that for a moment. "All right. Here's the deal.
Your man confesses to attempted murder. We don't look too closely at
whatever else he might have done. We don't try to uncover any background
on him. After he's pleaded guilty, and been sentenced, he's out of our
hands." Ignoring protests from both sides, he shrugged. "It's
the best I can offer. Unless the Agency wants to blow the operation.
Or do you, Ray, really want to lose your job?" He waited,
but nobody spoke. "Then it's agreed. You better go tell your man
what to do."
Vecchio had completely disappeared. Ray decided he was too damn tired
to care, spent a half hour tidying his desk then left. He ought to eat,
he supposed, but he just wasn't in the mood. Now that Turnbull was awake
and out of danger and the men responsible were arrested, the stress of
the last few days was catching up on him in a big way.
He wasn't prepared to find Fraser and Dief waiting for him at the door
of his apartment.
"Hi. Come on in." The welcome was somewhat lacking in enthusiasm,
but Fraser either didn't notice, or ignored it. Dief butted his hand
in greeting and he patted the furry head absently. "Want some tea?"
He yawned uncontrollably. "Sorry."
Fraser smiled faintly. "Why don't you sit down and let me get it
ready. I assume you want coffee?"
"I'm not so tired I'll drink that stuff." Ray grinned and
flopped down onto his couch. Dief laid his head on one knee and looked
up at him soulfully. "There's not a donut in the whole apartment.
The wolf huffed and lay down on the floor, his nose turned conspicuously
He was almost asleep when Fraser brought the coffee and even the scent
of it, or the first scalding mouthful couldn't do much to ease his weariness,
or the tension which, he suddenly realised, was making knots in the back
of his neck. He set the mug down with a groan.
"Ray, you're exhausted. Why don't you go to bed?" Fraser
was watching him with concern in his eyes.
He shrugged and then regretted it when taut muscles twanged tighter still.
A large hand laid itself on his shoulder and slid across the back of
his neck. He looked at Fraser in surprise. They'd pretty much avoided
physical contact since coming back from Canada.
Fraser smiled lopsidedly. "You look like you could do with a back
He wasn't really hearing this
he was hallucinating, or dreaming,
"You know what that'll lead to."
The only reply was a level gaze and a slight lifting of the eyebrows.
Ray stood, stretched, and ambled off to the bedroom, not looking to see
if Fraser was going to follow. He was lying naked and face down on the
bed by the time Fraser joined him. He didn't turn his head as Fraser's
weight settled on the edge of the bed, just lay there listening to the
rustling of clothing as Fraser removed his shirt.
It could only have been his shirt, because a moment later a warm, oil
slick pair of hands began to work at the sore muscles in his shoulders.
Fraser was good at this. Good enough that he could have earned a living
doing it. Ray let his body relax into the mattress as first his shoulders
and then his back were kneaded and rubbed into a semblance of normality.
The slow, smooth movements rocked his body gently, sending him drifting
and inevitably, as he moved against the sheets, arousing him. Eventually
the stroking hands stilled on his hips.
"Would you like to roll over, Ray?"
"No, Frase, I would not. I don't ever wanna move again."
Even to his own ears he sounded half asleep.
There was a momentary pause. "Would you like me to go?"
"Uh uhn. Don' even think about it."
A light touch on his shoulder. "I'll just be a tick."
He heard Fraser out in the lounge explaining to Dief. Then he went into
the bathroom. Ray closed his eyes, smiling.
"Ray? Can you just
" Gentle hands helped him to roll
onto his side, then lowered him onto his front again. There was a soft
towel beneath his hips now. Fraser always thought of everything.
More rustling and then Fraser's warm weight covered him like a blanket,
smooth and comforting. Ray parted his legs slightly, but all Fraser
did was slide against him, his cock rubbing along the cleft of his ass.
Once again his body was rocked into the mattress, his cock pushing against
the enveloping thickness of the towel. The tip of his cock began to
tingle pleasantly with the gentle stimulation.
"Ray?" Fraser's breath washed his shoulder in extra warmth,
and a soft brush of lips against his throat made him sigh with pleasure.
"Is this all right?"
It was a lot more than all right. "Oh yeaaahhh
The slow thrusts continued as the tingling spread down his cock and into
his balls. Ray squirmed, feeling the first impatience of hunger. Immediately
Fraser quickened the rhythm a little. He was gasping, without the energy
to yell as he normally did by this stage. His body began to thrust instinctively
into the mattress beneath him and he heard Fraser's breathing, harsh
in his ear.
" he came with a sob and collapsed into a boneless
A moment later more heat was added to the friction of Fraser's cock against
his butt. Fraser sighed and kissed the back of his neck. "Are
you all right, Ray?"
He couldn't speak for a moment. "Fraser, I am so all right I can
hardly believe it."
The weight was lifted off him with a quiet chuckle. The towel was eased
out from under him and used to wipe his back. Then the covers were thrown
over him, settling around him like a lover's embrace. Fraser went into
the bathroom again.
Ray was almost asleep when he felt Fraser's weight settle beside him.
"I'll let you sleep now, Ray."
"No!" Instinctively, he reached for Fraser and caught his
arm. "Why don't you stay? I'd like the company."
Maybe he shouldn't have asked, but there was only the briefest hesitation.
He rolled onto his side with an effort and felt Fraser slide under the
covers. After a moment Fraser's arms wrapped around him, drawing him
into a comforting hold. He relaxed against the warm body at his back
and was asleep almost immediately.
In the morning he was alone. That was okay. Last night had been good,
friendly comfort sex, nothing more. But that was a great deal, after
Vecchio was back, withdrawn as ever and giving no explanation for his
disappearing act of the previous day. Ray was feeling far too relaxed
to care anyway. At least until Welsh called them into his office.
He shifted uneasily while Welsh inspected them both. Finally the lieutenant
leaned back in his chair. "Congratulations gentlemen. It seems
like you can be quite a team when you choose to be."
Vecchio shrugged. "It was luck. I recognised a name, knew where
"Yeah. And Turnbull had already done half the work anyway, before
they grabbed him." There was no way Ray wanted to take any credit
for this case. He still felt sick every time he thought of the Mountie
slowly bleeding to death in that warehouse.
"Nevertheless, I'm pleased with your work." Welsh fiddled
with a pencil. "However, Brown and Pereira will keep your double
homicide. Kowalski, I want you to get Turnbull's statement when he's
up to it. That's all."
They'd both muttered their thankyous and left the office before Ray had
registered that there was something in the conversation that he was missing.
He kept quiet, and started reading through some of his other cases; ones
that had been on the back burner in the last few days.
Then it hit him. He found himself staring at Vecchio, until the other
man sensed it and looked up. "You knew, didn't you? That Partello
was a Fed."
"Don't be stupid." Vecchio scowled. "If I knew he was
a Fed, I'd be in serious trouble right now, wouldn't I? Arresting an
undercover agent isn't exactly the way to make yourself popular."
Ray ignored him. "That's why you took off yesterday. That's
why you never said anything about the warehouse."
"Shut up!" Ray looked into furious green eyes. "I'm
just a cop, right? And cops don't know that kinda stuff. And if the
Feds knew that a cop knew that kinda stuff, that cop's life wouldn't
be worth shit. It wouldn't take them long to find out how a cop got
to know that stuff, and then all it'd take is one phone call to the right
person, and every Family in the North West would be looking for that
Welsh knew too. That's why they'd been kept off the homicide. It was
too high profile. Too much chance of someone recognising Vecchio, especially
now that the Feds were going to be around for a while. It suddenly occurred
to Ray how much of a risk Vecchio had taken to save Turnbull's life.
He summoned up a halfway convincing smile. "Hey, don't mind me.
Everybody knows I got a wild imagination."
"Yeah, well keep it to yourself." Vecchio turned away, hunching
his shoulder, but Ray thought he caught the faint flicker of a smile.
It was another two days before Turnbull was strong enough, or awake enough,
to make his statement. Ray visited him each day, sometimes twice, but
most of the time the Mountie was sleeping. The rest of it, he was barely
coherent as he struggled to fight off the infection that had set in.
The first person he saw, coming out of Turnbull's room, was Fraser and
his heart began to race. "What's happened? Is he okay?"
Fraser smiled. "Turnbull's improving, actually. He's going to
be all right, Ray. Don't worry so much."
Ray shrugged. It was easy for Fraser to say that. He didn't have to
feel responsible for Turnbull being in hospital in the first place.
"Do you think he's strong enough to make a statement?"
"If you take it slowly." Fraser frowned. "His parents
are with him now. Would you like to have a coffee?"
Much as he would have preferred to avoid Mr Turnbull, in particular,
Ray shook his head. "I better do it now." And then, as Fraser
began to walk away, "Frase? Thanks for the other night. It really
Fraser blushed a little. "You're most welcome, Ray. That's what
friends are for, isn't it?" He raised his eyebrows innocently as
Ray began to laugh.
"Sure, Fraser. All my friends would do that for me. See
ya later." He opened the door to Turnbull's room and was hit by
a wave of heat and sickroom smells.
Turnbull was looking better, but he was still flushed and heavy
lidded from his bout of fever. His mother was sitting beside the bed,
not touching him or speaking, and his father was pacing by the window.
He wondered how Turnbull was ever going to recover in that kind of atmosphere.
But Turnbull's eyes had turned towards him and a weak but genuine smile
crossed his face. "Hello, Ray."
"Hey there. How's it going?" Ray went to stand by the bed,
opposite Mrs Turnbull. He clasped Turnbull's hand briefly in greeting,
feeling awkward. "D'ya think you can make your statement now?
We've got the guys who did it, but the sooner we get your statement the
"Of course, Ray." There was a hesitation in Turnbull's voice
and his eyes turned towards his father for a moment.
Ray took the hint. "Mr and Mrs Turnbull? This could take a while.
Why don't you take a break." He faked a smile. "It's a nice
They left, eventually, Mrs Turnbull fussing ineffectually and Mr Turnbull
with an irritated scowl on his face. Turnbull seemed to brighten immediately.
Ray pulled over a chair and sat, hunting in his jacket pocket for his
notebook and pen. "How're ya feeling Turnbull? Yer looking better."
"I'm feeling better, thank you, Ray." Turnbull smiled hesitantly.
His voice was still very weak and he was lying unnaturally still, as
if the slightest movement would cause him pain.
Better to get this over with as quickly as possible, then Turnbull could
get some rest. "Okay, I've got it done up to the point where you
were at the stationhouse." He read it out, slowly, making sure
Turnbull was following it. "That okay?"
Turnbull nodded. "Yes."
"Okay, what happened on the way home that night?"
Turnbull's brows drew together in a slight frown. "After I called
you, I was going to leave as you said
" he looked appealingly
at Ray. "Really, I was
" he swallowed. "I hadn't
gone very far
the other man
he came up
behind me. He had a gun
" Turnbull broke off, swallowing with
"You want some water?" At Turnbull's nod he held out the glass
of water so Turnbull could sip through a straw. The Mountie was already
showing signs of weakening. "Turnbull, if yer not ready for this
I can come back tomorrow."
"No." Turnbull shook his head determinedly. "Ray, is
have I done something wrong?"
Ray stared at him in surprise. "No. Why'd you think that?"
" Turnbull's face was turned away from him, making
it hard to hear his voice. "You're calling me Turnbull. Before
" the weak voice faded into inaudibility.
Somewhere inside him Ray felt a stab of pleasure. "You want me
to call ya Renny? Is that it?" There was no response, but Turnbull
seemed to be waiting. "Hey, I'll be happy to call you by your name.
I just wasn't sure... you know
like when things are bad, sometimes
you're, like, friends, and then when it's over, ya go back to bein' strangers
again? So I just didn't know
Turnbull was looking at him again. "I'd like that, Ray."
"Okay." He smiled at the big Mountie, feeling ridiculously
pleased. "Hiya, Renny."
"Hello, Ray." Renny's smile was openly delighted. "I
suppose we'd better continue."
yeah. Just take it easy, okay?" He held his pen
at the ready again.
"All right. He
the other man
"His name's Molina."
Renny nodded. "Molina. He made me get in the car
but then they put a cloth over my head. I couldn't see where they took
I'm sorry, Ray
"It's okay." Ray put his hand on the muscular arm. "Renny,
yer doin' fine. Anyway, I'm a slow writer."
That raised a faint smile. "They drove for several minutes, then
took me into a building. It felt
he sighed. "It's not much
I was in an office
that's what it looked like. I was tied to a chair and they left me there
for a while."
In spite of the heat of the room, Ray shivered. He knew what it felt
like to wait, tied up and helpless, wondering what was going to happen.
He patted Renny's arm again. The heavy lids drooped and Renny swallowed.
The sandy head moved slowly from side to side. "I'm sorry, Ray
"Don't. It's okay." He laid his hand on Renny's arm and waited.
"They came back
" the soft voice had sunk to a whisper.
"They wanted to know who I was working with
what I knew
the blue eyes opened, staring at him beseechingly. "I didn't tell
they wouldn't have hesitated to kill you
for you to come
" he smiled tremulously.
"I knew you'd come, in the morning
"They beat you." God, he felt sick. He already knew what
had happened, but hearing it was painful.
"Both of them? Or just Molina."
I don't know how long. A long time
the sky was
starting to lighten outside
His breathing was becoming strained, and Ray tightened his grip on the
pen, steeling himself for what would come next.
kill him, he's not
said he'd never killed a cop
and he wasn't going to start now." The words came out in a desperate
rush and Renny broke off with a gasp. His breathing was getting worse
by the second and his face was flushed and damp with sweat.
Ray just wanted to end it. "So Partello shot you."
"Okay, that's enough for now." Ray took hold of his wrist.
He could feel the weak pulse fluttering under his fingers, far too fast.
"You want me to call the nurse?"
"No." Tears trickled out from under his already wet lashes.
Damn. Maybe he should just call the nurse anyway. Instead he reached
for the washcloth on the nightstand and dampened it with cool water from
the washbasin. He stared to wipe Renny's face with it. "That better,
Renny smiled weakly. "Thank you Ray
"Don't be. You've done great." He dampened the cloth again
and continued, wiping down Renny's throat and over his chest, lightly.
"We can do the rest another time. When you're stronger. I've got
everything I really need."
" it sounded like he was half
Ray smiled. "Okay, just relax and enjoy it. Take it easy."
It wasn't long before Renny drifted into sleep. Ray waited a little
longer, watching the long angular face for signs of distress, but he
seemed all right, considering what he'd been through. On the way out
he stopped off at the nurse's station.
"Keep an eye on him, willya?" He leaned against the counter
and eyed the young woman invitingly, not above using charm to get what
he wanted. Especially in this case. "He's just had a rough session.
Making a statement." He waved the notebook in explanation.
She returned his smile willingly. "Sure. He's a nice guy. So
polite. Not like his father."
"Yeah, makes you wonder where he got it from, don't it?" Ray
grinned, but he wished he could stop Turnbull Senior from getting anywhere
near his son.
" she leaned closer, and Ray did the same.
I think he's worse when his father's there. The mother's
okay, but she's scared of him, so she won't do anything she thinks he
won't like. It's a pity."
"Yeah. Maybe I should shoot the old bastard." He grinned
at her half hearted attempt to look shocked. "I'll be back later.
Say around eight. You gonna be on duty?"
He already knew she wouldn't be, but if flirting with her got Renny some
special attention it would be a small price to pay. Besides, she was
"Wake up, Kowalski. We're here."
Vecchio's voice jerked him out of an exhausted daze. "I'm awake.
I just had my eyes closed is all."
"Sure. You look like Hell." Vecchio stared at him for a moment.
"It's not all your fault, ya know."
He didn't need to hear that. His mirror told him every morning what
he looked like, and it was all his fault. Being with Renny every
day in the hospital, running interference between him and his father
was taking a toll on him he hadn't expected. Renny's almost child-like
friendliness made him feel guilty as Hell, but telling the big Canadian
the truth was out of the question, at least until he was stronger. Ray
pushed aside the thought that even then he wouldn't want to confess and
risk losing their new friendship.
A sigh from the other side of the car made him realise he hadn't responded
to Vecchio's comment. "Look, I'm okay. I'm handling things."
"No you're not." Brooding green eyes met his squarely. "You
weren't responsible for everything that went wrong. I coulda prevented
it. I knew something was going on, I just didn't want to get involved."
Ray tried to read Vecchio's face and couldn't. "Because of me."
"Because of you. Because of Turnbull. Because I just didn't want
to know." Vecchio shrugged apathetically. "Because I don't
wanna be your partner, or to like you, or to respect you as a cop. Because
of a whole lot of shit."
Because of Fraser. But neither of them was ready to open that
can of worms. "Hell, you were the one who saved Renny's life."
"Renny?" A smile tugged at the corner of Vecchio's mouth.
It faded fast. "If I'd known Partello was involved, I would have
told you both to stay the Hell away from him. So don't blame yourself
It helped, a bit, to know that Vecchio felt at least partly responsible.
Ray sighed "I guess I could have made things easier for both of
us. Truth is, I didn't want to be partners any more than you did."
"What a big surprise." Vecchio's voice was sarcastic, but
not completely unfriendly. "So, anyway, I figure we can work together.
That's all. We do the job, and we do it properly. Outside of work,
I don't give a shit. That okay with you?"
He grinned. It wasn't the most enthusiastic offer he'd ever had, but
he was going to take it all the same. "Works for me."
Ray looked at his watch. Four thirty. He could sneak out now and Welsh
would turn a blind eye as long as he was up to date on his paperwork.
That wasn't difficult considering his caseload had mysteriously halved
itself almost overnight after Renny's shooting. He could stop off at
the gift shop in the hospital's lobby and buy some flowers or something.
Maybe a magazine, though God only knew what Renny might want to read.
Renny had been moved to a regular room a couple of days ago, and now
his parents could harass him in greater privacy. Some, at least, of
the Mountie's behaviour now made a lot more sense than it had before.
Growing up with parents like his would have made anybody act strangely.
They weren't there when he poked his head around the door, and Ray repressed
a sigh of relief. "Hey, Renny, how's it going?"
"Oh. Hello, Ray." The face that turned towards him was paler
and more strained looking than it ought to be. "Everything's fine,
He hadn't even managed to raise a smile. Ray went over and hitched his
butt carefully onto the edge of the bed. "You don't look too good.
"Nothing, really." Renny managed to get an unconvincing smile
onto his face. "Well, perhaps I'm a little tired."
"Sure." He inspected the unhappy face and shadowed eyes.
"You in pain?"
A shake of the sandy head was his only answer.
"So I guess it's your parents, then." Startled blue eyes lifted
to his and Ray grinned. "Hey, you're not the first guy in the world
to have trouble with his folks."
"My father wants me to resign from the RCMP. He says I'll never
amount to anything and I'll only get myself killed." The long face
filled with misery. "Perhaps he's right. I certainly made a mess
of this case."
"No you didn't!" Renny blinked at his vehemence, but the words
had struck a raw nerve. "It was your sketch that helped
us catch those bastards. Otherwise we'd still be looking for them."
Ray sighed. "Let me take a wild guess. He wants you to go home
and take over the family business."
"No. My cousin's in charge of the business. Besides, Dad said
I'd bankrupt it within a month if I did that. He wants me to
it looked like Renny was struggling with tears.
It hurt to see a man who'd faced death as bravely as Renny had, reduced
to tears by his father's callousness. Ray took hold of his hand and
waited until the silent struggle was over. "Listen, my old man,
he never wanted me to be a cop. We didn't see each other for years because
of it. But in the end he admitted he was wrong. Just 'cause he's your
dad, doesn't mean he's right."
The large hand turned under his and gripped his fingers firmly. "Do
you think so? Do you thing Dad would ever
" his voice faded
"From what I've seen of him?" Ray considered it for a moment.
"No. I don't think he'd ever admit he was wrong. But he is."
That raised a reluctant smile from the younger man. "Thank you,
He shrugged. "So what is this business, anyway? Are you the heir
to a chain of hotels or something? A ranch? Coal mine?"
"No." Renny appeared to be struggling with himself. "It's,
my grandfather, my mother's father that is, founded a chain
of stores. Well, four stores, really."
"Okay. What do they sell? Anything I'd buy?" He was starting
to feel curious about it. Renny was definitely being cagey.
Renny shook his head. A faint pink stain was rapidly spreading across
"What? Come on buddy, you can tell me."
Maybe it was the 'buddy' that did it. He hadn't called Renny that since
the day he'd found him in the warehouse. Renny blushed a little more.
"They sell ladies
Ray perked up. "Yeah? Like Victoria's Secret? That sexy stuff?"
"Oh, no!" The long face was scarlet now. "Nothing like
that, Ray. It's more
more suitable for older ladies. My
father wanted me to work in one of his stores when I left high school,
but I wanted to go to college. So I could join the RCMP. I didn't tell
him that, of course."
It occurred to Ray that it must have taken a Hell of a lot of courage
and determination for an eighteen year old to stand up to Turnbull Senior.
But mostly, he was trying to imagine Renny at age eighteen trying to
sell 'undergarments' to women old enough to be his mother. He couldn't
even say the word without blushing. Ray choked.
Renny looked at him reproachfully. "It's not funny, Ray. Dad was
very angry when I told him."
"No. I know
" another choked laugh escaped
him. "I was just trying to imagine you
"Oh! Yes, I see, Ray
" Renny giggled weakly. "I
don't think I would have been very good at it."
"Yeah. So much for your dad knowing best, huh?" He grinned
at Renny, setting him off again.
Renny was still giggling helplessly when the door opened and Turnbull
Senior's sour face appeared. How two men with almost identical faces,
allowing for the difference in their ages, could look so different was
more than Ray could figure. If possible the older man's face became
even more disapproving.
"I thought you might have given my suggestion some serious consideration.
But I see I was wasting my time. You've always been a disappointment
to me, Renfield. I blame your mother. She was too soft with you."
The laughter died out of Renny's face to be replaced by distress. "Dad,
" he straightened in the bed and took a deep breath. "I'm
a Mountie. It's all I ever wanted to be. I'm not going to resign."
He wilted a little under his father's glare and Ray felt the grip on
his hand tighten.
He'd forgotten that he was still holding Renny's hand. Now he realised
that Renny's father was avoiding looking anywhere near their hands.
It wasn't the time to abandon the younger man, or he would have moved
away. Instead, he met Renny's blue eyes squarely with his own and smiled
"I see." There was a grim silence. "It seems you've
wasted my time yet again." The door closed with a snap.
Sheer fury sent the adrenalin surging through Ray's body. "Renny,
I swear, I'm gonna pop him one. I don't care if he is your old
" Renny sounded near to
"Okay, okay, I won't." He looked down at their joined hands.
"I guess this didn't help any. I'm sorry."
"Oh, don't worry about that." Incredibly, Renny smiled. "I
told them I was gay years ago. After my first year at college."
Ray felt like his jaw might hit his knees. It wasn't as though he hadn't
had his suspicions, but he certainly hadn't expected Renny to be so blasé
about it. After a moment he managed to find his voice again. "So
how did they take it?"
"Well, they said it was just a phase I was going through. We've
never spoken about it since."
Ray looked at him quizzically. "So maybe he thought you were over
but I told them
"And maybe they didn't believe you." He grinned at
Renny's dismay. "Maybe they thought you were just trying to piss
them off. Maybe they thought it was a phase." He gave the
hand he was holding a friendly squeeze. "Don't worry about it.
You told them. It's not your fault if they didn't believe you."
The door opened again, but this time it was Mrs Turnbull. She smiled
nervously at Ray as he stood politely, casually releasing his grasp of
Renny's hand. He didn't think she'd noticed. "Hello Mrs Turnbull.
Not exactly a great conversation starter, but she gave him a small, distracted
smile before turning to her son. "Oh, Renfield, I'm afraid you've
upset your father again." Her voice was reproachful.
Predictably, Renny looked upset. "I'm sorry, Mum. I didn't mean
"You know he's only got your best interests at heart. This
" her hands fluttered ineffectually, and Ray
found himself wishing she would for once take Renny's side against her
sour tempered husband. "He says we're going back home."
If it hadn't been for Renny's obvious distress, Ray would have cheered
the news, but once again he seemed to be on the verge of tears. Even
though the old bastard had been making his life miserable over the last
"Well, I guess you've got a lot of
to do back
home, Mrs Turnbull. And Renny's a lot better now, so
took her arm and turned her towards the door. "I'll take good care
of him for ya."
She blushed vividly and avoided looking at him. "Oh
I'm sure you will, Detective
he didn't dare look over his shoulder towards Renny. "You'll
have a bit of packing to do too. D'ya need a ride out to O'Hare? What
time's the plane leaving?"
"Oh, not till morning
six a.m., I think
" she looked
up at him doubtfully. "I think Mr Turnbull said we'd take a cab."
Not even to get rid of the pair of them would he offer to take them to
the airport at that hour. "That's great. Have a safe trip."
He closed the door behind her and leaned against it weakly. There was
something about dealing with her that set his teeth on edge.
Renny was staring at him wide eyed. "She
" his face was a picture of comical dismay.
"Yeah." He was shaking with repressed laughter. "Maybe
now they'll believe that it's not a phase."
"I've got some good news, Ray." Renny smiled delightedly as
Ray dropped a couple of magazines on the nightstand.
"Yeah? What is it?" As usual there were no chairs in the
room, so he sat on the edge of the bed.
Renny drew himself up proudly. "I can go home next week."
Ray studied him carefully. Since his parents had left, Renny's somewhat
erratic recovery had steadied into a slow but steady improvement. He'd
graduated from the bed to a wheelchair and, only last week, to slow and
shaky walking, with a bit of assistance and lots of rest breaks.
"Are ya sure about that, buddy? That apartment of yours
ain't the greatest for a con
for someone getting over
being shot. How are ya gonna manage with no lift?"
A blush turned Renny's cheeks almost scarlet. "Well, I was hoping
" he looked away suddenly. "Perhaps I shouldn't
"What? Ya know I'll help ya any way I can, but I can't be there
all the time." Ray was relieved to see the hectic flush die down
of course I wouldn't expect
seemed shocked. "I'd just need a bit of help with things like
like groceries. The local store doesn't deliver, you see. And there's
the laundry, of course
" his face seemed to lengthen. "Oh
perhaps it is a bit of an imposition. Don't worry
about it, Ray. I'm sure I can manage."
"Renny, it's okay. I can do that kind of stuff, no problem."
Ray smiled, but his heart wasn't in it.
It was strange to realise how important the friendship that had sprung
up between them was to him. But it was a fragile thing, really, built
on Renny's need of him and his own feelings of guilt. Somehow it had
developed into a genuine liking, on his part at least. Renny himself
was as friendly as a puppy and Ray was never entirely sure how much it
meant to the Mountie to be his friend. Maybe it was just the situation
that had thrown them together
he wasn't at all sure that their
relationship, whatever it was, would survive in the world outside these
hospital walls. And it was surprisingly painful to consider the possibility
that they would gradually drift apart.
"Is something wrong, Ray?" Renny's voice broke into his thoughts,
"Nah." He shrugged with an attempt at casualness and smiled.
"It's great news. Bet you're glad to be getting out of here."
" Renny's happiness was definitely dimmed.
As usual, he seemed incapable of hiding his emotions. He was looking
at Ray now with obvious uncertainty. "Ray? When I'm
not in hospital any more
it won't change anything will it?
will we still be friends?" The scarlet tide flooded
his cheeks again. "Are we friends, Ray?"
"Yeah, of course we are." A weight seemed to lift off his
shoulders. "It'll be great, buddy. We can do
hang out and stuff." He sought desperately for something
they could do together. "Like go to movies. You'd like that wouldn't
"Oh yes, Ray. That would be wonderful." Renny's voice was
too eager, and they both suddenly found something else to capture their
attention. An awkward silence ensued.
Ray shifted uncomfortably. "Well, you let me know when you're being
discharged and I'll drive ya home. Make sure yer okay. That kind of
"I'll do that, Ray. Thank you." Renny's voice was carefully
neutral, matching Ray's tone.
Ray banged on Renny's apartment door for the third time. "Come
on, Renny! Open up! Do I have to break that damn door down?"
He pressed his ear to the door and heard not the slightest sound from
inside. That meant either Renny wasn't in there, or that he was in no
condition to make a sound. Either way, it was a bad situation. The
hospital had released him over an hour ago and instead of waiting for
Ray to pick him up, the damn fool had decided to get home on his own.
Best to check out the apartment first, he decided. Which meant finding
the concierge and getting a key. He headed for the stairway, muttering
under his breath. The building had no lift and Renny lived on the fourth
floor. There was no way he'd be able to manage on his own
Halfway down, Ray found him. The Canadian was leaning heavily against
the handrail, his face ashen, breathing heavily. In a moment Ray was
at his side supporting him.
"Thanks, Ray." Renny flashed a weak smile at him.
Ray pulled a long arm across his shoulders. "Never mind 'thanks'.
Are you okay? How did you get here? A cab shouldn't have taken you
"Cabs won't come to this neighbourhood, Ray. I took the El."
"You what?" The nearest station was at least four blocks
away. And on a completely different line
Renny would have had
to go into the Loop and change from the Blue Line to the Green Line
and before that, would have had to walk a couple of blocks from the hospital
to the nearest station at that end. "Are you out of your mind?"
Renny had caught his breath, so they made their way slowly up the stairs,
pausing frequently. Ray managed to convey his feelings on the issue
quite well, in spite of being rather breathless himself. Even though
he'd lost weight in hospital, Renny must be heavier by at least twenty
"Key." They'd finally made it to the apartment and Ray had
run out of breath and the energy to complain any further.
Renny handed it over. "But Ray, I didn't know how long you'd be
delayed, and besides, you've already done more than enough
"I told you I'd be there." He got the door open and
half dragged his companion inside. "You live like this?"
The apartment was scrupulously clean, apart from the inevitable dust,
but it was tiny and almost completely bare. At least that meant it wasn't
far to the bed. He led Renny over to the narrow cot and lowered him
"You better get some rest, okay?" He knelt to remove Renny's
shoes and socks, then tipped him over, and lifted his legs up onto the
bed. He ignored Renny's weak protests as he stripped off the other man's
jeans and sweater and pulled the covers over him. "You need anything,
"I'm fine, Ray." Renny's voice was already showing signs of
drowsiness. "Thank you, Ray."
He dropped onto the edge of the bed. "You just take it easy, okay?
You need anything, you call me. I don't want you going up and down those
stairs all the time." He looked around the apartment. "Where's
"I don't have one, Ray. There's a phone in the lobby." Renny
smiled sleepily and blinked.
"Shit." Ray pulled out his cell phone. "Use this. Call
me at the precinct and if I'm out leave a message. I'll tell them to
give it priority."
He put the cell phone on a small box that obviously served as a bedside
table. Then he got a glass of water, in case it was needed. By the
time he got back Renny was asleep. He stood looking down at the other
man for a while, feeling angry and more than a little helpless. It was
obvious that Renny was going to do whatever he thought he should, regardless
of whether he had the actual strength to do it. He was going to have
to keep a close eye on him.
"So what's for dinner tonight?" Ray dropped the laundry basket
on the floor beside the bed and wandered over to the corner of the room
that served as a kitchen.
Renny didn't turn from the small pot he was hovering over. "Pasta
al Forno, Ray. I hope you like it."
"Sure I will." It was bound to be better than anything he
was ever likely to cook on the few occasions he didn't buy takeout.
He peered over Renny's shoulder. "Can I taste it?"
He knew what the answer would be. Renny would never allow it. A huge
sigh indicated that Renny had finally realised Ray was just yanking his
chain. "Ray, please
couldn't you just set the table? It
won't be much longer."
" Ray grinned and did as he was told. This
was getting so domestic it was scary. Even when he and Stella were together
it hadn't been quite so cosy as this.
It had started simply enough. Since there was no telling what Renny
might take it into his head to do next, Ray had begun spending almost
every spare moment in the tiny apartment. Renny started cooking meals
for him, and then an ancient pack of cards made its appearance. Finally
Ray simply brought his television over and sat through numerous wildlife
documentaries, baseball matches and Canadian movies. It should have
bored him senseless but it didn't. He felt more comfortable with Renny
than he ever had with anybody else, even Fraser.
"So what's on the tube tonight?" Ray slid into his seat as
Renny carried a steaming plateful of pasta over.
Renny beamed at him. "Well, there's a movie I thought you'd like,
That usually meant something weirdly Canadian, but Ray simply shovelled
a fork load of pasta into his mouth without commenting.
"It's Iron Eagle
number four, I think." Renny looked
at him expectantly. "It starts at eight thirty."
"Yeah? That'll be great." At least it was better than a wildlife
documentary. He gestured at his plate. "This is good."
"Thank you, Ray." Renny flushed and looked pleased as he always
did when Ray complimented his cooking.
After they'd done the dishes, it was nearly time for the movie. They
settled on the couch and Ray bemoaned the lack of popcorn, even though
he was so full he couldn't possibly have eaten it. At first Ray hardly
paid attention to the screen, but then
"Hey! That's you!" He straightened abruptly from his usual
Renny was staring at the screen with his jaw slack. "Oh dear
he does look rather a lot like me."
They watched as Renny's double, obviously one of the bad guys, grabbed
another bad guy by the throat and started threatening him. Ray whooped.
"Way to go, buddy!"
"Ray, that certainly isn't me." Renny flinched as his alter
ego opened fire on the heroine. "He does seem rather,,, well, violent."
"Who cares? This is great." Ray settled down for some fun.
It was just a pity that the Renny look alike wasn't in the movie nearly
enough. Every time he took a pot shot at the good guys, Ray cheered
him on. But, at the end, the inevitable happened. Ray stared at the
fireball that was all that that remained of Renny's double and his fighter
plane and felt suddenly depressed.
"Ray, what's wrong?" Renny was watching him, his face serious.
He tried to shrug off his uneasiness, but couldn't entirely manage it.
"Nothing's wrong. I'm just tired, that's all." Ray faked
an unconvincing yawn. "I'd better go. See you tomorrow night?
You need me to bring anything?"
"No, thank you Ray." Renny still looked troubled. "I'm
going to the store tomorrow for a few things."
"Okay." Ray stood and stretched with another yawn, genuine
this time. "Just don't go walking all over the neighbourhood, you
hear? No rescuing people, or small fluffy animals."
" Renny stopped as Ray scowled. "All right,
Ray. I won't."
"Like I believe that." He grinned at last.
Renny wasn't there when Ray let himself into the apartment. Well, he
had turned up almost an hour earlier than usual. With a sigh, he wandered
around the apartment. It was so tidy it set him on edge. If he didn't
know that Renny lived here, he would have sworn it was some kind of museum
exhibit, everything was so perfectly arranged. The only thing out of
place was the sketchpad and pencil on the floor beside the window.
There wasn't anything better to do, so he went over and picked it up.
Flipping through the pages, Ray was impressed by Renny's ability, and
amused to see that the majority of sketches were of him. They'd been
spending so much time together lately it only made sense. He ignored
the small voice inside his head that told him there might be another
explanation for it. There were too many reasons why he didn't want to
think about that possibility. He flipped over to the last page
and thought his heart was going to stop.
It was him again, but not like those other sketches. This was a completed
work, lovingly detailed, and definitely not done from memory. He looked
down at himself, sitting naked but for a torn shirt and a pair of socks,
his legs spread and drawn up, his cock standing erect against his belly.
His mouth went dry.
After a moment he sank to the floor, still clutching the sketchpad in
his trembling fingers. It wasn't him. It couldn't be. That thought
at least was clear in his head, and after a while he began to wonder
He staggered to his feet and began to search the apartment.
There weren't many places to hide things, and after five minutes he'd
looked everywhere he could think of. Until his eye strayed to the bed
and he grinned suddenly. Of course. Where else would someone like Renny
hide a porn mag? He eased the slim volume out from under the mattress
and flicked rapidly through the pages.
It was there on page fifteen. Ray studied the model carefully. Not
his face of course, but the body
well it wasn't exact, but it was
very close. The kind of body he'd like his to be if he could only put
on maybe five or ten pounds. Eventually, his heartbeat slowed to near
normal, but the churning in his gut and the tightness in his groin weren't
showing any signs of dissipating. He closed the magazine and put it
back where he found it.
He shouldn't do this. He should just leave. But he didn't. Ray walked
back to the window and picked up the sketchpad, still open on the last
page. His heart started pounding again, and his arousal soared as he
took in the details of the sketch again. Trying to decide what he should
do was impossible, when his brain seemed to have shut down altogether.
In the end, he listened to his body instead.
When the door opened at last he was sitting on Renny's bed, wearing nothing
but his socks, in exactly the same pose as the sketch. He fingered his
cock furtively. Yeah, exactly the same pose. He met Renny's
shocked eyes with all the confidence he could muster.
"Ray?" Renny's croak was barely loud enough to reach him across
all of three feet of space.
It was louder than anything he could manage. Ray swallowed and
licked his lips nervously as Renny stumbled across the room. He dropped
to his knees beside the bed and reached out a tentative hand to touch
Ray's face. Unable to speak at all, Ray caught him by the shoulder and
drew him closer. Their lips barely touched.
" Renny's sigh brushed warm air against his cheek.
He drew the other man close again.
Something in that second kiss broke the spell that was holding them both
captive. Suddenly Renny's hands were all over him. Ray barely had time
to catch his breath before his mouth was seized and subjected to a prolonged
and thorough investigation.
If it had occurred to him to think about it, he would never have thought
Renny was a virgin, in spite of his rather weird air of innocence; but
he never would have expected this either. The big hands moved over his
body with surprising delicacy, teasing and arousing; soothing when uncontrollable
shivers racked him. It was exquisite. It was sheer torture. After
a while there was only one thing on his mind
when was Renny going
even so, the touch on his cock startled a cry out of him.
Without so much as a glance in his direction, the sandy head lowered
itself to his groin and began a new investigation. Every inch of his
skin, every fold and crease, was licked and probed and teased into unbearable
awareness of its own existence. Then Renny's hands got involved too
stroking up and down the inner surface of his thigh, massaging his balls,
gently fingering the opening of his body.
An eternity later, the firm grip on his cock was loosened enough to allow
Renny's lips and tongue full access. Eyes closed, Renny slowly, excruciatingly
slowly, ran his tongue over the length of it, pausing frequently to trace
a wildly throbbing vein before resuming his upward journey. When he
reached the crown Renny sucked it into his mouth without the slightest
Ray had to grip the sheets beneath him to stop himself grabbing the Mountie
by the ears and plunging recklessly up into his mouth. But, after the
tiniest pause, his good behaviour was rewarded. The lips encircling
his cock loosened slightly and Renny took him all the way in, deepthroating
him with all the expertise of a thousand dollar a night hooker.
For the second time a cry was forced out of him and he couldn't hold
back any longer. His hips surged up and Renny took it all, riding out
the storm until Ray forced himself into some semblance of control. He
leaned back against the wall, trying to relax his aching, shivering body.
It started again, the long slow glide of tongue and lips up the length
of his cock, the fierce plunge down again. Over and over until he was
screaming for release. Literally screaming...
A long bony finger plunged inside him, finding his prostate with pinpoint
accuracy. Another scream was choked off halfway as his body rebelled
against the impossible stimulation. He felt the heat surge up through
his cock, out into the greater heat of Renny's mouth, and collapsed into
a limp and shuddering mass.
He must have blacked out for a moment. When he came to, he was buried
beneath a vast and heaving weight. Confused sensations resolved themselves
into a kind of coherence. Renny
on top of him, naked and aroused.
A heavy burning brand ploughing against his belly
he wrapped his arms and legs around his lover, responding with what little
strength he had left in him. Renny's head was buried in his shoulder,
breath scorching his skin, and he could hear muffled and disjointed bursts
of speech that made no sense to him whatsoever.
One thing was clear though. It couldn't last much longer. Renny couldn't.
Ray found he was grateful for that. Even the slightest touch against
his cock sent jolts of mingled pleasure/pain through his overworked nerve
endings. Every part of his body was far too sensitive.
Aware that he'd hardly contributed anything to the proceedings, he began
to stroke the long muscular body and immediately Renny's pace quickened.
Ray hardly had time to do a thing before it was all over. A stifled
cry and the faltering pace were the only warnings, then the scalding
heat of cum on his skin as Renny collapsed across him.
After a stunned moment he managed to roll them so they lay on their sides,
otherwise the weight of the larger man would certainly have suffocated
him. Then he was content to drift for a while, allowing the heat to
slowly dissipate and his body to recover. Beside him Renny seemed to
be completely unconscious.
He stared at the flushed and sweaty face from much closer than he would
ever have imagined possible. Not a pretty face, not even handsome; but
Renny had an appeal all his own. He stroked his fingertips over Renny's
chest, toying with the scattered hairs that clung damply to his skin.
With a quiet sigh, Renny rolled away a little and Ray's eyes drifted
lower and were caught by the livid scars on his belly, darker even than
the overheated skin.
Somehow, without his knowing it, Ray was halfway across the room, his
stomach tying itself in knots. He had to get out of here. He couldn't
face Renny, not right now. His clothes were around somewhere
found them and dragged them on with shaking hands, afraid that Renny
would wake and catch him. But he didn't. Ray pulled the door closed
behind him with a quiet click and ran, stumbling, for the stairs.
It was two days before Renny came to see him. At first Ray was relieved
he didn't come, but when he opened his apartment door to see his large,
miserable looking visitor, his heart sank and all he could feel was more
guilt loading itself on top of what he was already carrying.
Renny could hardly bring himself to raise his eyes from the floor. "Ray?
Ray, I'm sorry
I didn't hurt you, did I?"
He caught hold of Renny's denim jacket and dragged him inside. The last
thing he needed was for his neighbours to hear this. "No. Of course
you did want to
This was like watching someone torturing himself. Ray interrupted the
stumbling query. "No, you didn't rape me. You didn't do anything
wrong, okay? It was me. I shouldn't have done it, is all. It's my
fault, not yours."
"Oh." If anything, this seemed to make Renny even more miserable.
He stared silently at Ray, waiting.
He was going to have to tell Renny everything. Ray swallowed the sick
feeling in his throat and turned away. "Sit down, will ya?"
He waited until he heard the creak of his couch and then perched himself
on the far end of it, as far away from Renny as possible. "I don't
really know how to start
I mean, until the other day, I never even
thought about us. You know?"
He waited for a nod, then forced himself to continue. "I didn't
wanna think about us. I didn't wanna tell you this
I knew it would hurt ya, and partly because
it kinda makes me feel
sick to think about it." He looked over at Renny's puzzled face
and realised he wasn't being any more coherent that Renny had been.
"It's my fault you got shot. When you called me, I didn't
take it seriously. I didn't take you seriously. By the time
I realised you were really onto something, it was almost too late. When
I found you I thought you were gonna die."
"Is that why you visited me in hospital?" Renny's voice was
steady but very quiet. He stared down at the floor. "And helped
me after I was discharged?"
"It was my fault dammit! Don't you care about that?"
Ray stared at the bowed head incredulously. "You nearly died because
A fractional lifting of one shoulder indicated disinterest. "You
feel guilty about that."
"Of course I do!" Ray couldn't keep still any longer.
He practically leapt to his feet and started pacing. "Dammit, why
don't you hate me? If I was you I'd hate me."
"I couldn't hate you, Ray." Renny looked up at last and smiled
faintly. "I wish you'd told me. You didn't have to do all those
things. I wish you hadn't
" his voice broke and he took a
deep breath. "It would have been better
I thought you were
doing it out of friendship. If I'd known it was because you felt guilty...
Is that why you let me
do those things to you?"
Ray could only stare, appalled, as the blue eyes filled with tears.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked. I'd better go now." The
long body unfolded itself awkwardly from the depths of his couch and
Renny headed for the door.
He couldn't let Renny leave like this. He didn't want Renny to leave
at all. Before Ray could consciously make the decision, his body was
already moving. He crossed the room and reached past Renny just in time
to stop him opening the door.
"Don't go, not yet." He leaned against it at arm's length,
with Renny still trapped between his body and the door. "Please.
I need to tell you something."
The wide shoulders tensed, but Renny made no attempt to leave. "All
"I did feel guilty, okay? I do feel guilty. I nearly
got you killed, for God's sake." Ray took a shaken breath trying
to get himself under control. "But I liked visiting you in hospital.
I liked you. I wanted to help you when you came out."
He took hold of Renny's shoulders and gently encouraged him to turn around,
then pushed him back a little until he was right up against the wall.
"I wanted to make love with you. I didn't want to admit
it to myself, but when I saw that sketch
I knew, okay?" Once
again Renny nodded instead of answering. "It was afterwards
you were really out of it, and I was looking at you and I saw
saw the scars and I just couldn't handle it. I freaked out. I felt
like I was using you
that you wouldn't have made love with me if
you'd known what I'd done." He raised his fingertips to touch the
flat plane of Renny's cheek. "I felt like I didn't have any right
to feel about you the way I did."
He could feel Renny trembling. It was now or never. He reached up just
enough to close his lips over Renny's for a moment. "I love you.
And God knows I don't deserve it, and I don't understand it, but I think
you love me. Don't go. Please don't go."
" Renny turned his face away from him, eyes
closed. "Don't say that, Ray, please."
"What, buddy? Don't say what?" More concerned than ever,
he searched Renny's face, but found no clues there. "Don't say
I love you?"
A tiny shake of the head was his only answer. He kissed Renny again,
on the cheek this time, and leaned against him. His hands slid under
the denim jacket, caressing Renny's chest through his thin T-shirt and
a tremor ran through the sturdy body. "Renny? Do you want me to
Another tremor. "No."
Ray kissed him, teasing at his lips with his tongue until they parted.
His tongue slid deep into Renny's mouth, caressing, exploring, savouring
the taste of him. Just a hint of spearmint toothpaste
have lost himself in that kiss forever, if it hadn't been for the ache
in his body, and his awareness of the growing hardness against his hip.
Renny was trembling fiercely now, but making no effort to move away.
Ray trailed kisses across his cheek and jaw, briefly captured an ear
lobe between his lips and then detoured downwards to tongue the hollow
at the base of his throat. Renny's breathless little moan made the sensitive
skin flutter beneath his lips.
" he pulled the T-shirt out of Renny's jeans and
began to stroke the smooth skin beneath. A little higher and he could
feel the tickle of chest hair against his fingers, then the crinkled
hardness of an erect nipple. This time they moaned in unison.
This quiet exploration was so incredibly different from the wild ride
they'd had only two days ago, but it was perfect. If ever a man needed
tenderness right now, it was Renny. There was something terribly vulnerable
in his face, and in the stillness with which he accepted each touch.
A part of him had wondered, over the last two days, whether it had been
love, or only lust, that had driven him but now there was no doubt at
all. As badly as his body ached for sex, his heart ached even more for
the pain he saw in Renny's face.
At last it seemed like Renny was going to respond. The big body stirred
restlessly, still trapped between Ray and the wall. But he subsided
again immediately. A quick glance showed him that Renny's hands were
still pressed firmly against the wall, as if for support, right where
they had been from the moment he'd put them there. He smiled slightly
and pulled Renny's T-shirt right up his chest before the other man could
move to stop him.
He needn't have worried. Once again Renny made no protest, obviously
prepared to accept whatever Ray would do to him. It was a frightening
responsibility. He nuzzled the soft skin of Renny's throat a last time
and then lowered his head to suck at one nipple while his fingers teased
the other. A gasp from above his head made him hesitate, but then a
large hand came up to cradle the back of his head, holding him close.
It was surprising how that one little thing could make such pleasure
sweep through him. Ray began to rain kisses over the broad chest, returning
again and again to Renny's nipples, rosy and gleaming from his attentions.
Renny's fingers were stroking his hair now, and his other hand came up
to press gently on Ray's back. Encouraged he slid his own hand down
between their bodies and cupped his fingers over the heavy bulge at Renny's
" Renny caught his breath on a gasp. His body
responded in spite of himself, pushing unconsciously into Ray's massaging
Ray gave his nipple one last, gentle nibble and captured the generous
mouth again. "I want you so bad, Renny
do you want me?"
Renny nodded, his eyes wide and dazed looking. "Oh yes, Ray. Please
They kissed again, urgent and hungry now, but Ray was aware that Renny
was still holding back. He continued his gentle kneading of Renny's
erection and before long he was on his knees, his face pressed to Renny's
belly, his tongue slowly circling the shallow navel. He ventured lower
still, kissing the stiff denim while his trembling fingers struggled
with the metal stud.
Eventually, he got it free and eased the zipper down. Then the jeans,
pushing them downwards just a little to expose the starched white boxers
that Renny always seemed to wear. The thick outline of his cock disappeared
downwards into the leg of his boxers, trapped there by its own bulk and
the confines of the shorts. Ray smiled to himself and kissed him through
the thin cloth. His hands were moving over Renny's thighs and hips in
slow firm caresses and he could feel the little involuntary shudders
as his lover tried to maintain control. Maybe what he needed was to
He pushed the jeans down even further and saw, with a jolt that went
straight to his already aching balls, the tip of Renny's cock peeking
out from the leg of his shorts. A tiny drop of pre cum was sliding down
the inside of his thigh. Ray moaned softly, and captured the droplet
with his tongue, tracing its route back up to the source. He licked
the oozing slit and stroked his tongue over the swollen cockhead as Renny
"Ray! Oh, Ray
oh!" Renny's hands were back clutching
at the wall as if his life depended on its support.
Ray looked up into his lover's face. "It's okay, buddy. It's okay
just trust me
Renny nodded and swallowed. He was still trembling as Ray slipped the
edge of the white cloth a little higher and ran his tongue around the
fleshy ridge that defined his cockhead, then closed his mouth around
the whole tip, gently engulfing it.
Quiet reigned for a few minutes as Ray licked and sucked, intent on giving
his lover pleasure. His hands strayed over the thin cloth, feeling the
heat of his body, the heavy roundedness of his balls and the solid bulk
of his cock. It was far too much temptation for him to resist for very
long. He transferred his attention to the single white button at the
waistband of those boxers. It slipped free easily and Ray parted the
He'd known what to expect this time, but even so the sight of those scars
shocked him into immobility. Tears threatened to blind him and he blinked
them away. Gingerly, as though it could cause pain even now, he brushed
a fingertip over one livid mark. They would fade with time, become almost
invisible against the pale skin, but they would never go away.
"Ray, it's all right
you don't have to
voice stopped on a faint gasp as Ray leaned forward and kissed the ridged
As if his kisses could somehow heal the wounds that were already fading,
erase the pain that had passed weeks ago, he lavished his attention on
every crease and pucker, caressing with his lips and tongue until he
thought his heart would burst. Above his head Renny's breathing was
ragged and uneven.
"Now do you believe I love you?" He hadn't meant to say it,
and saw the blue eyes evade his, unable to accept what he was offering.
Well, there would be other times to deal with that issue. Ray turned
his attention to the erection that was straining the tolerance of the
Renny was big. He'd seen that much, even in his haste to leave the other
day; now he had the evidence that his memory was accurate on that account
literally in front of his eyes. He slid his hand into the shorts and
carefully disentangled the heavy cock from the hindering cloth.
He'd never imagined anything like this. His fingers stroked up and down
the long shaft almost reverently before enclosing it in his fist and
drawing it down to his lips. Renny moaned as he kissed and licked the
thick cock from base to tip with slow deliberation and then took it into
his mouth. He sucked eagerly for a moment, then slid back and took it
into his hand again, alternately pumping it and licking the sensitive
cockhead until Renny was shuddering uncontrollably.
"God, you're incredible. Beautiful." He sucked the cock into
his mouth again, his fingers still curled around the base, squeezing
rhythmically, feeling the heavy throb of Renny's heartbeat echoed in
the hard muscle.
Gentle hands pushed him away. "Ray? Ray I can't
Startled out of his preoccupation, Ray glanced up into a face that was
almost unrecognisable. He released the cock so he could stand up and
take his lover into his arms. "Renny, it's all right, buddy. It's
okay, I won't hurt you."
"I know you won't Ray." The thin lips parted in a shaky smile.
"But I might hurt you
"Shh, it's okay
" Ray leaned against him and wrapped his
arms around the much larger body. "You just tell me, okay? If
it gets too much for you?"
"All right." Renny relaxed against him a little.
Ray smiled and kissed him. "You wanna go in the bedroom now?"
To his delight, Renny blushed. "Yes, Ray. I'd like that."
"Okay." He paused long enough to pull Renny's jeans back up
and tuck his cock away safely, then took the large hand in his own.
In the bedroom Renny's uncertainty seemed to fade a little and Ray lost
no time in taking advantage. In moments Renny's jacket and T-shirt had
been tossed aside, and his jeans and shorts were down around his ankles
before either of them remembered he'd need to take off his shoes and
socks. Ray dropped to his knees and hurriedly removed them.
Then he took his lover back into his arms and proceeded with a manual
examination of everything within reach. The solid length of Renny's
cock twitched against his belly, a reminder that he shouldn't get sidetracked
too far by the other enticing possibilities of that gorgeous body.
With a regretful sigh, Ray drew back. "Bed."
"Yes, Ray." The blue eyes were smiling shyly. He backed away
in the direction of the bed, drawing Ray with him.
They tumbled down onto it and it was only when he landed on top of Renny,
and those large hands closed over his butt, that Ray remembered he was
still fully dressed. Not for long
those big hands could be surprisingly
agile, he discovered, as his shirt and undershirt rapidly disappeared.
The feel of that hot, slightly sweaty skin with its sprinkling of hair
against his bare chest was a wonderful revelation.
oh, God!" He stared thrusting against
his lover and stopped with a moan of frustration. "Be right back."
He rolled off the edge of the bed and stood, his knees showing a disturbing
tendency to buckle, as he fumbled with the zipper on his jeans. Renny
was watching him avidly as he shoved them down and kicked them aside,
thankful that he was barefoot. He reached for the top of his shorts,
the clinging variety that hugged every inch of his body, and hesitated.
Instead of simply pulling them off, he ran his hand down over an erection
that felt like it ought to be at least twice as big as usual, and watched
as Renny's eyes widened. Good. Renny deserved a little entertainment
he ran his fingers around the top of the elastic at his waist before
sliding them underneath. A soft moan, released quite deliberately, made
his lover's jaw go slack.
It would be easy to get lost in the sensations, but Ray fought to distance
himself. It was a show; it was for Renny, not for himself. He stroked
his erection slowly and rubbed his other hand over the cloth hugging
his balls, pulling it tight so Renny could get an eyeful. When the urge
to thrust returned, he eased back, withdrawing his hand and slowly peeling
the cloth down, revealing himself inch by inch. Finally the shorts were
puddled around his feet and he could step out of them and rejoin his
dazed looking lover.
The first touch of his cock against Renny's nearly sent him into overload,
but he pulled back from the brink again, afraid of doing something wrong.
Making love with the Canadian was like one of those Chinese puzzle balls,
layer upon intricate layer and nothing went the way he expected it to.
Every time he thought he knew what was happening Renny would baulk at
something and he'd have to start over.
But, for the moment at least, Renny seemed happy enough for them to twine
their legs and thrust lazily against each other as they kissed. And
while they did that, Ray thought about what he wanted. After a few minutes
he rolled onto his back drawing Renny on top of him. Once again, Renny
"Renny? What's wrong, buddy?" He looked up into startled
" Renny smiled at him. "Nothing, Ray
just didn't expect
"What? You never been on top before?" It was just a joke
but Renny blushed. "Forget it, buddy
He pulled his lover down into another kiss, but the exchange had started
a train of thought in his mind. When they broke for air, he twisted
around and reached for the drawer beside his bed. What he wanted was
still there, and not past the use by date, thank God, though he hadn't
needed them in far too long.
Renny was watching in silence, but something about his expression started
warning bells ringing in Ray's head. "You okay with this, buddy?"
of course, Ray." His voice was hesitant.
Maybe it was just nervousness. It was only their second time together
but suddenly Ray wanted that big beautiful cock inside him so bad it
was driving him crazy. He tore open the wrapper and reached for his
lover. Renny froze as he started to roll the condom down over his cock.
He stopped immediately. "Renny? What's wrong? Tell me."
Confusion spread over the long angular face. "I thought
want me to
" his lips clamped shut for a moment. "I
don't think I should, Ray. I don't want to hurt you."
"Hey, you won't. Don't worry about it, buddy." Ray grinned
up him and started rolling the condom again.
A large hand clamped over his. "Please, Ray
" Renny was
beginning to look really upset.
"You won't hurt me. It's okay. This isn't my first time, all right?"
He sighed, seeing no change in his lover's expression. "Why don't
you tell me what's wrong, buddy?"
Renny's face twisted and he looked away. "I
and I'm too
I can't risk it
" He pulled the large body down into his arms, abandoning
his plans for the moment. "It's okay, Renny. If you really don't
want to, it's okay. I just dunno why you think that. You're big, but
not that big, you know? And I know you'd never hurt me."
He kissed the side of Renny's head, since his face was hidden in the
pillow. "You've really never fucked anybody before?"
The sandy head shook from side to side.
"What a waste." He grinned as Renny's head shot up, a shocked
expression on his face. "Man, I want you inside me so bad
I want you to fuck me so hard I get steam coming out my ears."
"But I might
He took his lover's face between his hands. "You. Won't. Hurt.
Me. Get it?"
"Yes, Ray." The blue eyes stared intently into his. "All
They exchanged a long, deep kiss before Ray got busy with the condom
again. Then, mainly to appease Renny, he spread a generous amount of
lube over the sheathed cock. "Ready?"
The next few seconds were unexpectedly nerve racking as Renny eased cautiously
into him. As he'd expected, it didn't hurt at all, though he was feeling
stretched, and fuller than he'd ever been before. His nervousness was
all on behalf of his lover, who looked absolutely terrified. It was
a relief when Renny came to rest at last, cradled between his legs, and
they could both relax.
"See, Renny? I'm just fine." He stroked the sweaty cheek
and brought up his legs to wrap around his lover's waist. "Now
fuck me, baby. Fuck me hard."
He didn't, of course. It started as an awkward, tentative movement of
the hips and slowly picked up. Ray reminded himself that, in this at
least, Renny was a virgin. The thought made him feel curiously
protective. But he made encouraging noises and, once the thrusting settled
into a steady rhythm, he joined in, increasing the friction, driving
faster, harder than Renny was willing to risk. The sweat was pouring
off both of them, making their bodies slippery where they touched.
" he arched up into his lover, plunging
against him, and Renny shuddered. "Oh fuck
Finally it must have got through that it wasn't hurting him. With a
groan, Renny began to thrust harder, and Ray abandoned himself to the
urgency of the rhythm. He stretched out his arms above his head and
gripped the edge of the mattress. "Harder
He could feel the approaching end, but forced himself to hold back.
Every second he gained was a second longer in paradise. It was the wildest,
most intense lovemaking he'd ever known and he realised he was all but
screaming his head off, while Renny's face was pressed into his chest
in a hard breathing silence.
It was that realisation that overthrew what little control he had left.
He felt the sudden pulsing of his cock and his ass, and a choked cry
from his lover, echoing his own, louder, yell. Then a plunge into chaotic
sensation and darkness.
Ray woke with his lover in his arms to a chorus of aches from his exhausted
body. Renny was wrapped around him like a kid holding his favourite
teddy bear. It brought a smile to his face to think of it, but he seriously
doubted Renny had ever had the comfort of a toy like that. He rubbed
his cheek against the short soft hair. In just one night, he'd learned
a lot about Renny.
There were some things you just didn't do with him. Like talk about
love. For reasons that he didn't like to think about, Renny simply didn't
want to hear that word.
And you didn't restrain him, not even to the extent of a gentle grasp
of his wrists. Ray remembered, with a sick sensation in his stomach
the frozen stillness that had resulted when he'd tried that. Even so,
Renny hadn't protested, or struggled; he'd just waited until he was released
and then acted as though the incident had never happened.
It was too soon to start asking questions. He had no doubt, now, that
the big Canadian loved him, even if he refused to admit it; but Renny
didn't trust him. Not yet. Ray refused to think about the possibility
that Renny might never be able to trust him. Somehow he would find a
way to get past his lover's fear.
His arms tightened unconsciously and Renny stirred against him. Even
that brought a sense of pleasure and intimacy that Ray hadn't experienced
in far too long a time. He smiled and kissed his lover's temple, then
turned his head to look at his alarm. It was a quarter of eight, and
he was due at the stationhouse at eight thirty.
Swearing softly under his breath, Ray slid carefully out of Renny's arms,
managing not to wake him. First things first
he headed for the
kitchen and started the coffee, then back to the bedroom and through
to the bathroom.
He managed the shower in a spectacularly short space of time, decided
he didn't need to shave today, and was halfway back to the kitchen, a
towel wrapped around his waist, when the knock came. He dived for the
door, afraid that Renny might wake.
Immaculately dressed, as usual, Vecchio glowered at him. "You were
supposed to pick me up, remember?"
"I slept in. There's coffee in the kitchen." Ray turned back
to the bedroom, mainly to avoid Vecchio.
A quick rummage through his drawers left him with a choice of a crumpled
T-shirt or a light grey sweater that was probably going to be too warm
for comfort. The only pants he had were his black jeans, and he pulled
them on while he thought about it. Obviously, it was time he did the
"Wow." Vecchio was standing in the doorway, a coffee mug in
Ray followed his gaze to the bed. Renny was sprawled across it, on his
back, the covers kicked aside. Even relaxed in sleep, he was spectacularly
well endowed. A thrill of adolescent pride ran through Ray, though he
ought to be well past that kind of thing at his age.
He grabbed the mug and jerked his head towards the door. The last thing
he wanted was for Renny to wake and find an audience in there. It only
took a minute to drag on the sweater and then he was out in the lounge
where Vecchio was waiting for him.
They exchanged a wary look, then Vecchio grinned lopsidedly. "Are
they all built like that? Damn Canadians
" he stopped
abruptly, his expression becoming hard.
"Damned if I know." There was no way he wanted to go there.
Vecchio scowled. "You'd know as well as me. Did you really think
I wouldn't figure it out?"
He should have known it would come to this eventually. Just his luck
that it had to be today. "We're gonna be late." He grabbed
his shoes and socks off the floor where he'd left them last night and
headed for the door. Then he remembered Renny. His brain felt like
it had turned to Swiss cheese. "Shit. I'll be down in a minute.
We can talk on the way, all right?"
His heart was still pounding from the shock as he eased down on the edge
of the bed and pulled his socks and shoes on. "Renny?" Ray
touched the angular plane of his lover's cheek and watched as his eyelids
slowly lifted. "Hey buddy."
"Good morning, Ray." Renny yawned and blinked sleepily at
"I gotta go to work now. There's coffee in the kitchen if you want
it. Or whatever else." He felt his hand soften against the warm
cheek, cupping it gently. "Will you be here when I come home tonight?"
Renny blushed and nodded, a happy little smile hovering uncertainly around
his lips. "If you want me to, Ray."
"I sure do." He bent and kissed the firm lips briefly. "Take
it easy, you hear? If you wanna just stay here and sleep, it's okay."
"I could cook dinner for us. If you don't mind."
Ray grinned. "Hell no, I don't mind. We're gonna need the calories,
Ignoring a blushing protest, he kissed Renny again and fled, before the
urge to climb back into bed with him became too strong to ignore.
It didn't take too long to work out that he wasn't likely to achieve
anything much today. Well, it wouldn't hurt to catch up on his paperwork
Ray sighed and sipped at his third mug of the swill that
passed for coffee in this place. It wasn't even ten a.m. yet. In the
desk across from his, Vecchio tore a sheet out of his old typewriter
and crumpled it into a ball with a curse.
They hadn't talked in the car, which was probably the only reason
they'd both arrived at the stationhouse alive. They were going to have
to talk soon. Very soon, he realised, as Frannie and her brother
exchanged a venomous glance. The two of them had already had one fight
this morning and were obviously heading for another.
Another crumpled ball of paper hit the edge of the trash can and bounced
across to land at his feet. Ray picked it up and tossed it towards Vecchio's
trash. His aim wasn't any better. Vecchio glared at him. He shrugged
and turned back to his own work.
It wasn't easy to ignore the muttered curses from Vecchio's direction,
especially when he could hardly concentrate on the file he was trying
to read. He kept his head down and his eyes on the typed forms, even
though none of the words made any sense to him. From the corner of his
eye he saw a blur pass by him and he heard the unmistakable thump of
a large pile of folders being dropped on the desk next to his.
"What the Hell is this?" Vecchio's furious voice made Ray
Frannie stepped back a pace, her hands placed defiantly on her hips.
"You wanted the files on the Morton case? This is them."
"I asked for the arresting officer's report, not the whole damn
case! Get rid of this mess." Vecchio's arm swept around
flinging the heap to the floor.
"I will not!" Frannie's voice rose sharply. "You
did it. You clean it up." She turned and flounced away.
"Frannie! Frannie, you get back here, dammit!" Vecchio
surged up out of his chair and headed after his sister.
It was time to get involved before the hostilities got any worse. Ray
followed hurriedly behind his partner and caught up with him in the hallway.
"Vecchio! Hey, Vecchio! Wait up!" He grabbed the Armani
clad arm and held on tight.
"Let go of me, Kowalski." Vecchio's voice was low and dangerous.
"No. We gotta talk." His grip tightened as Vecchio tried
to jerk his arm free. "Now, Vecchio!"
"Here? Are you crazy?" Vecchio stared around the hallway
at the people passing them. "You want the whole precinct listening
That got them both a curious glance from a passing civilian aid. "This
Vecchio baulked when he saw where they were headed, but Ray hung on grimly
until they were both inside and the door was shut.
"Geez it's dark." He laughed nervously. "I can't believe
you two spent so much time in here."
Vecchio obviously wasn't impressed. "Whadda you know about
"I know that when I got here the whole damn precinct was talking
about the both of you." He frowned at the memory. It hadn't made
his new job any easier. "I didn't believe it at first. I mean,
Fraser, he was so damn straight, and besides
" he thought about
what he'd been intending to say and decided it was better unsaid. He
dropped down onto a box and leaned back against the wall.
Somewhat to his surprise, Vecchio did the same, sitting opposite him.
There was just enough light for him to be able to see the outline of
his partner's face. His head was hanging, his hands clasped between
"Yeah? Go on."
I figured if you were lovers, you wouldn't have just left
like that. Without telling him." He still felt angry about that,
he discovered. "It was a lousy thing to do."
Vecchio sighed. "Yeah, it was. And why I did it is none of your
"Maybe not." Ray hesitated. "You really hurt him."
"I know." Vecchio's head lifted. "Don't complain, Kowalski,
it gave you the chance to make it better."
"It wasn't like that, goddammit!" He had to fight the
urge to throw a punch. "Why did you act like such a jerk when you
came back? Why did you run off with Stella? You could at least have
waited till we got back."
"Six months?" Vecchio laughed. It broke in the middle. "Why
should I? You were doin' just fine without me."
"We wouldn't have been away that long, if it hadn't been for you
doing what you did. He didn't want to come back with you gone."
Ray felt his frustration level rising. It seemed like nothing was going
to get through. If they hadn't been working together for the past four
months, and he hadn't got some of the measure of the man he was dealing
with, he would have given up then. But he'd learned to respect the other
"Touching. Next you'll be telling me you didn't sleep with him."
He laughed. "What, I look like some kind of saint? Of course I
did. He's the most beautiful man I've ever seen. I love him, okay?
He's my best friend. He's a good cop, and he's
just good. You know what I mean."
"Yeah. So?" The edge had gone from Vecchio's voice now.
"So he was lonely, and I was lonely and we both cared about each
other. It wasn't enough for either of us. That's why we came back."
"Wait a minute. Are you saying you didn't sleep with Benny until
" Vecchio leaned his head back against the wall. Ray
could see that his eyes were closed. When he spoke again, after a long
silence his voice was almost resigned. "Oh shit."
Oh shit. "Is that why you acted like that?"
"Like a jerk, you mean? You could say that." Vecchio shrugged.
"That was only part of it. I thought it was gonna be such a big
deal, you know? Going undercover like that. I thought I'd finally made
it. Was gonna get some respect. And it turns out that I was just bait."
"Bait? For what?"
"The Feds, they had another guy in there and Langoustini got too
close, so they 'took care' of him. They could have faked his death.
Explained it. They put me there so, if anybody else got wind of it,
they could throw me to the Family and nobody would look too close at
their boy. I was nothing."
That sounded like something the Feds would do. Ray felt sick. "So
what did you do?"
"I found out who their boy was." Vecchio's teeth gleamed in
the darkness. "I told him either cut me in on the action, or if
anything went wrong, I'd drop him right in the middle of it. It worked
that was how I knew about Partello"
Just thinking about the risk Vecchio had taken made his blood run cold.
"They could have 'taken care' of you, too."
"Yeah, maybe, but at that point I didn't give a damn. So there
I was, up to my neck in the dirtiest dealing you can imagine. And I
was damn good at it. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, until
Benny ruined it all."
"It wasn't his fault! He was taken by surprise."
"He blew it, Kowalski. He could have got all of us killed."
Vecchio shifted restlessly. "Anyway that wasn't what I meant.
I took the damn job so I could show him I was just as good a cop as he
was. And as soon as I saw him I felt like he could see everything that
I'd done, all the shit
I felt dirtier than I've ever felt in my
Ray flinched at the defeated tone in his partner's voice. Suddenly all
the things that had been happening between Vecchio and Fraser over the
last few months were beginning to make sense.
Vecchio's head was down again, and Ray didn't need to see the damp gleam
on his cheek to know he was crying. Impulsively, he leaned forward,
dropping to his knees. "Ray, he loves you. He wouldn't care about
There wasn't anything he could say in the face of such despair. Ray
lifted his hand to touch the wet cheek, his fingers trembling. This
wasn't anything he'd ever imagined happening with Ray Vecchio.
Before either of them had a chance to decide what to do, the door opened.
Ray blinked in the sudden light and finally made out the startled face
of Benton Fraser. The silence was so intense, he could hardly breathe,
then Fraser backed away.
I'm sorry. I was looking for
the door swung closed.
The two men stared at each other in shock. Ray snatched his hand away
and lurched to his feet. "Stay right here." He dived out
of the closet without waiting for Vecchio to answer.
Fraser was already halfway down the hallway and moving rapidly. Ray
broke into a run and overtook him, skidding to a halt directly in front
of the Mountie. "Fraser
look, it isn't what you think."
"You don't know what I'm thinking, Ray." Fraser frowned at
He laughed shakily. "Okay, it wasn't what I would have thought
if I'd been in your place."
"Ray, you don't need to explain anything to me."
"Yes, I do." Ray grabbed at his arm as Fraser tried to move
around him. "Frase, will you for God's sake listen to me?"
Fraser's bowed his head in resignation. "All right, Ray."
Now that he'd got what he wanted, Ray felt a sudden rush of fear. If
he blew this
he pulled Fraser around and started walking him slowly
back down the hallway. "We were just talking, Frase. I'm not interested
in him that way, okay? In fact, I've got someone
" he stopped,
blushing. He wasn't sure whether Renny would want their relationship
"Oh?" Fraser looked at him inquiringly.
"Never mind about that. The thing is
well, he's kinda screwed
up, you know?" He glanced over at Fraser but the Mountie's face
was impassive. "He was telling me some stuff about when he was
undercover. And other things."
"Ray, please." Fraser held up a hand to silence him. "He
has had plenty of opportunity to get professional help. I'm
sure there isn't anything I could do that a psychologist couldn't do
"Bullshit, Fraser." They were almost at the closet
door. He stopped, turning to face his friend, desperate to get the message
across before it was too late. "He doesn't need a shrink, what
he needs is someone to tell him they can forgive him for the stuff he's
done. Stuff he can't forgive himself for doing."
"He needs you Frase. You're the best person he knows. If
you can tell him he's okay he'll believe it." He held back
a grin as that struck home with Mr Dudley Do-Right. He couldn't walk
past the smelliest street person without trying to help them.
While Fraser was still digesting that shot, Ray dragged him over to the
door and opened it. Vecchio was still in there, still sitting on the
box. He didn't even bother to look up. Ray gave Fraser a quick shove
inside and closed the door again. Now all he had to do was keep them
"Ray? Have you seen
"Over here." He whirled around and grabbed Frannie's arm.
He managed to get her across the hallway while she was too surprised
to resist. "Hey! Fraser's looking for you."
"It's okay. I seen him." He grinned and jerked his head towards
the closet door. "He's having a little talk with that brother of
"In there?" Frannie's eyes widened.
"Yeah. Can you hang around? Make sure nobody goes in there?
And don't let them come out either. At least not till you can smell
the cigarette smoke." He grinned and turned to leave.
"Benton doesn't smoke! And neither does Ray." She stared
at him as he stopped and a broad smile crossed her face. "Oh, I
get it! Okay, I'll keep an eye on them."
"Great. Thanks." He started off down the hallway.
"Yeah?" He kept walking.
"You think it'll work?"
Ray turned, but kept walking, backwards. "Don't know. If it don't
I'm gonna have to bang their heads together."
He waved a hand as he turned again. A quick glance at his watch told
him it was nearly noon. The whole damn morning was shot to Hell
if he snuck out now, maybe Welsh wouldn't notice
Renny was in bed, and still asleep, looking just adorable with his mouth
slightly open. Ray grinned. He'd got it bad. Well there was no point
in fighting it, and he didn't want to anyway. He shucked his clothes
quickly and crawled under the covers.
"Ray?" It was just a drowsy murmur. Then Renny's eyes opened
a fraction and he snuggled close. "Is it evening already?"
No. It's just about noon. I came home early." He kissed his sleepy
lover and found himself enveloped in a huge embrace.
They kissed slowly while Renny gradually threw off his drowsiness. After
a strenuous night, it was a more than welcome change, and Ray found he
liked the sweetness and the tenderness of it. He rolled Renny onto his
back and began a languid, sensual survey of his lover's body. There
was certainly plenty of it to explore.
He rubbed his fingers over the scattered hairs on Renny's chest, enjoying
the feel of it, and the contrast of the smooth nipples. Renny sighed
and stretched against his hands. His lips skimmed across stubbled cheeks
to the soft, sensitive skin of Renny's throat. His lover smelt deliciously
of himself and of their lovemaking from last night.
With a sigh of pleasure, Renny drew him closer and Ray rubbed himself
back and forth against his lover's body. Even after the rigours of last
night, they were both becoming aroused. Ray pushed himself up a little
and smiled as Renny's cock lifted to press against his belly. He continued
the slow rocking of his hips, watching the effect it was having on the
flushed Canadian with some appreciation.
But it was Ray who broke first. He slid rapidly down Renny's body to
take the heavy cock into his mouth. The taste of him sent Ray's head
reeling, and he sucked eagerly as Renny's body heaved beneath him. Once
again it seemed as though they were both losing control far too soon.
He took a deep breath, trying to regain control, and only partially succeeding.
He ran the tip of his tongue down the long thick vein until he reached
wiry, sweaty curls at the base of Renny's cock, then kissed his heavy
balls, sucking gently at the loose skin.
"Ray!" Renny's cry was muted by breathlessness. After that
one word he was silent again, as he had been most of last night.
Ray wanted to make him groan with pleasure, to cry out, to scream his
name as he climaxed. Pretty much the way he'd done last night
His tongue drifted lower still and he slid his hands under Renny's thighs,
lifting and parting them until they were folded back across the long
torso. He found the soft, sensitive pucker of flesh and caressed it
wetly. Renny gasped.
That was the kind of response he liked. Ray grinned to himself
and set about a slow unrelenting torture, not easing up until Renny was
moaning breathlessly, his fingers clenched in the bedding on either side
of his body.
God, he looked beautiful like that
cheeks flushed, eyes heavy lidded
and sensual, every muscle in his body save one slack with pleasure.
Ray crawled up his lover's body to kiss those parted lips and felt his
cock snag lightly against Renny's body. He dropped his hips, allowing
it to slide down between Renny's legs, where it pressed eagerly against
Immediately he forgot all his good intentions about winning Renny's trust.
"Oh God, Renny
I want to be inside you so bad
He bitterly regretted his words a moment later, when the blue eyes turned
wary and disillusionment replaced arousal on Renny's angular face.
"Of course, Ray." Renny slid out from beneath him. "Like
this?" He rolled over, lying face down with his legs parted.
"No!" It came out too sharply and Renny flinched. "No,
" Ray gently turned him onto his back again. "Like
this. I want to watch your face when you come." He kissed the
tense cheek. "It'll be good, Renny. I'll make it real good for
you, I promise."
A tiny nod was his only answer. Ray reached for the lube and the condoms,
still sitting on the bedside table. He lifted his hips so that his cock
slid up to nestle against his lover's. With a small blob of the lube
on his fingers, he began to massage the soft opening while he rubbed
back and forth against Renny's groin. Slowly the long sturdy body relaxed.
Ray slid a fingertip into his lover. Renny accepted it easily, and he
probed deeper, then added a second finger. There was no resistance at
all, but that didn't surprise him. It was obvious that Renny had plenty
of experience, but none of it seemed to have given him much joy. He
was determined to change that.
Ray stroked his fingertips across Renny's prostate and felt his whole
body shudder. And again. He kept it up until Renny was gasping for
breath and shaking helplessly. He dipped his head and trailed his tongue
along the ridge of Renny's collarbone, tasting his sweat, before burying
his face against Renny's throat for a moment. He fought desperately
for control, and won it, after a moment.
"You ready, lover?" He stared into Renny's eyes and saw the
doubts there, but Renny nodded again.
It took more of an effort than it should to lift his body enough so that
he could roll on the condom with hands that wouldn't stop shaking. So
much depended on this. It might be his only chance to convince Renny
that it was even possible for him to enjoy making love this way.
He managed to smear some more lube over the condom, preferring to be
absolutely sure he wouldn't hurt his lover, then guided the tip of his
cock to the now relaxed opening. Renny watched him, his face neutral.
"You tell me if I hurt you, lover. Promise me."
"Yes, Ray." Renny still sounded rather breathless, which seemed
to be a good sign, he thought.
He slid in easily, and after a moment's uncertainty Renny wrapped his
legs around Ray's hips. He stared into the distracted blue eyes, seeing
pleasure mingled with fear, wariness mixed with arousal. It could still
go either way, he thought. Slowly he drew back, then pressed forward
again. The motion became a smooth glide, sending a hot flood of pleasure
through Ray. He ignored it, concentrating all his attention on his lover.
"Is it good for you, baby?" Ray watched Renny's face anxiously.
"Yes..." the single word came out as a sigh. The blue eyes
widened in surprise and Renny smiled tentatively.
He couldn't help it. A big grin spread across his face and was echoed,
faintly, on his lover's. He slid down a little and pulled Renny's legs
higher, changing the angle of their bodies. "This is gonna make
Pressing deeper still, Ray felt his cockhead slide across the hard nub
of Renny's prostate. He felt the shock of Renny's reaction in his own
body as they both groaned raggedly, then Renny's body arched up against
his. He responded instinctively, unable to hold back any longer, but
Renny was there with him, matching his thrusts with counter thrusts of
his hips. Renny's arms tightened, almost crushing the breath out of
him and the sweat-darkened head was thrown back in abandonment. A hot
gush against his belly and the firm contraction of Renny's ass muscles
sent him reeling out of control.
He lay across Renny's body, limp as a wrung out rag, and listened to
the rapid breathing of his lover. Now that it was over, he realised
just how much of a risk Renny had taken in allowing him to do this.
He'd been hurt, badly, by lovers in the past; that much was obvious.
It would be different with him. It had to be
he had to
make this work and he would, whatever it took.
His cock was still hard inside his lover and Renny's arms and legs were
wrapped around him, holding him tightly. Then Renny sighed, straightening
his legs and relaxing his grip. One large hand slid down Ray's back
to clasp his butt cheek firmly. Ray smiled. It just didn't get much
better than this.
And one day he would tell Renny that he loved him, and Renny would believe
him. He wouldn't settle for anything less.