Due South and its characters belong to Alliance.
This story is a sequel to My Brother's Keeper, so you may want to read that one first. But it's not absolutely necessary, as I've provided some background information for explanation.
I'd like to thank Linda H. for all her encouragement and very helpful suggestions, including the idea to write this sequel, and for coming up with the perfect title.
Feedback, positive or negative, welcomed BiermannR@home.com
by Ruthie Biermann
Constable Benton Fraser walked into the squad room of the 27th precinct, his wolf, Diefenbaker, trotting just ahead of him. As he entered, he glanced towards the corner of the room and noticed his unofficial partner, Detective Stanley Raymond Kowalski, aka Ray Vecchio, sitting at his desk, looking pensive. Diefenbaker quickly bounded towards Ray and nudged his knee, commanding some affection. As Ray acquiesced to the wolf's demands, he looked up and watched with a smile as Fraser sat in his usual chair across from him.
"Hey, Frase, where ya' been?" he asked as he scratched a very grateful Diefenbaker behind his ears.
Fraser hesitated. He knew Ray would have something to say, but he also knew he couldn't lie, or even bend the truth. Not only because he never lied, but also because if he tried, Ray would easily catch him. But that didn't mean he couldn't be ambiguous.
"Well, Ray, I had some Consular business to take care of," he responded, trying to sound official.
Ray gave his partner a sideways glance and winked. "Okay, Frase, I see."
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Fraser grew annoyed. Despite his best effort, Ray knew exactly what he was talking about.
"You really want me to tell ya'?" Ray asked amused.
"Yes, of course, Ray. I'm actually very curious to learn what you find so amusing about my Consular business."
"No, Fraser, it's not the 'Consular business', it's you trying to play it up ta sound like it's major league official business."
"Well, it is official business," Fraser responded, irritated.
Ray smiled. "Okay, Frase, whatever you say." He continued to scratch Diefenbaker behind his ears.
"No, Ray, I'd like to hear what's on your mind. Obviously, you feel you have knowledge of my Consular business that I haven't communicated to you, and I'm frankly very curious to learn just what it is you think you may know."
"Okay, Frase. Does this Consular business got anything to do with pickin' up the Ice Queen's unmentionables at the laundry, or buyin' her lunch at the deli or delivering some package or......."
"All right, Ray, I get your point," Fraser interrupted. "If you must know, I was returning an item to the store Inspector Thatcher had purchased, and as far as her unmentionables are concerned, I've never had the opportunity to touch.....I mean, she's never sent me anywhere that had anything even remotely to do with her unmentionables." Fraser's face was slowly turning the color of his red serge.
Ray started to laugh. "That's too bad, Fraser."
"Ray, I'm sure Inspector Thatcher wouldn't appreciate hearing you speak about her in that manner, not to mention the unflattering nickname you insist on using when referring to her," Fraser chastised.
"You mean Ice Queen? It fits her perfectly, Fraser..... it's a term of endearment," Ray defended himself.
"Well, Ray, how would you like it if she utilized a moniker for you that was equally as unflattering?" Fraser asked, defending his superior's honor.
"Moniker? Hey, that sounds kinda kinky, Frase."
"A moniker, Ray, a nickname," Fraser explained.
Ray paused. "Whaddya saying, Fraser, the Ice.....I mean, Inspector Thatcher has a mon.....a monitor for me?"
"Moniker, Ray, and I didn't say that. I merely asked how you would feel if you knew she utilized one."
Ray thought for a moment. "Well, I guess that would depend on what it was." He stopped scratching Diefenbaker who quietly whined in response, resigning himself to lying down at Ray's feet. Ray eyed his partner, who was not forthcoming.
"Well, Fraser. Does she?"
"It wouldn't be chivalrous to tell you, Ray," Fraser chided.
"I'm not askin' ya' to throw yer serge over a puddle, Fraser. I'm just asking ya' to tell me what the Ice....Inspector Thatcher calls me," Ray responded exasperated.
"Well, Ray, if I told you, then I'd have to tell Inspector Thatcher what you call her, and I don't believe you'd want me to do that." Fraser was enjoying this.
"No, Fraser. It doesn't work like that. Ya' see, I'm yer partner, yer supposed ta tell me everything. She's yer boss, yer not supposed to tell her anything. Got it? Now, what does she call me?" Ray demanded, becoming upset.
Fraser decided to let his partner off the hook.....sort of. "Ray, I was only teasing you. Inspector Thatcher has the utmost regard for you and only refers to you in the most respectful manner.....well, most of the time," he qualified.
"Most of the time, Fraser? And what about the rest of the time?" Ray leaned across his desk.
"Sorry, Ray. Chivalry."
"Fraser, I'm gonna pop you in the head!" Ray yelled.
Fraser sat back in his chair, a smug smile on his face. It actually felt good getting Ray worked up like that. Just then the telephone rang. Ray quickly picked it up.
"Vecchio.....yeah, that's right. No, I......" Ray stopped talking. His demeanor immediately changed. His body became rigid, his jaw clenched. As he held the receiver, he leaned his other elbow on the desk and rested his head on his hands, rubbing his fingers across his forehead. Fraser watched him, concerned. Every now and then Ray would say something, "I don't think I could do that." Or, "I'm sorry, no." But the person on the other end was persistent, and Fraser noticed Ray becoming more tense as the mostly one sided conversation continued. After about five minutes, Ray snapped, "Look, I need to call ya' back. Just give me yer number and let me think about it." Ray wrote a person's name and phone number on a pad on his desk. Fraser tried to read it upside down, but before he could, Ray ripped the paper from the pad, folded it and put it into his pocket. He did manage to see the title, "Dr." before the person's name.
"Okay, yeah, I will. Thanks." Ray hung up the phone. He kept his eyes down, obviously upset about the conversation. Fraser waited a few moments and finally spoke.
"Ray, is something wrong?"
It was as if Fraser hadn't said anything. Ray continued to cast his eyes towards his desk. He now had his head in both hands, rubbing his temples with the heels of his palms, a pained expression on his face.
"Ray!" Fraser raised his voice.
Ray's head jerked up and he glanced across his desk. Fraser couldn't read the look in his eyes. Was it fear? He wasn't sure.
"Oh, Frase, sorry. I, uh, did you say something?"
"I asked if something was wrong." Fraser repeated.
"Uh, yeah, Frase. I need ta talk to you. Let's go get a coffee."
Ray rose from his chair, the pained expression still on his face. Fraser followed as Dief trotted behind the two men.
They had settled into their chairs, Fraser with tea, Ray, his usual coffee. There was silence as Fraser waited for Ray to speak, his eyes studying his coffee cup.
"Yeah Frase, sorry." He raised his head and looked into Fraser's eyes. Now he was sure, he saw fear in Ray's eyes. "That was Dr. John Hayward from Stateville Correctional Center." He paused. "He was calling about Steve."
Fraser's eyes grew wide. It had been about a year since Ray's brother, Steve, had been sent to prison. That had been a very difficult time for Ray, having been reunited with his brother after fifteen years at the scene of an armed robbery, suddenly realizing Steve was one of the fleeing suspects. Ray had tried to help his brother, he had tried to protect him, and in his zeal to help him, he had lied to Fraser. But Fraser had understood Ray's actions, and when Ray had asked his forgiveness, there was no hesitation on Fraser's part. He knew how torn up Ray had been over lying to him. The entire incident with Steve had actually brought the two partners closer together. Ray had told Fraser that he had been more of a brother to him than Steve ever had, and hearing that from his partner meant everything to Fraser. Ray had tried to do the right thing for his brother and as a result, Steve had deceived him, lied to him, beaten him up and stole his money. With Fraser's assistance, he had arrested Steve, who was subsequently sentenced to ten to fifteen years in prison, with no opportunity for parole for the first five years. He probably would've received a longer sentence, but with Steve's cooperation the police had been able to locate his partner in crime, and managed to recover $7500 of the $10,000 that had been stolen.
After that incident, Ray had written off his brother, acted as if he didn't exist. He never mentioned his name or the episode again. No one else but Fraser knew what had really happened. It was a secret they shared. And because of that secret, Ray felt he could tell Fraser about the phone call he had just received.
"Is Steve ill?" Fraser asked quietly.
"No, no, nothin' like that. Dr. Hayward's one of the prison shrinks." Fraser nodded. Ray continued. "Um, Steve isn't doing so great. He, uh, he wants to see me." Ray looked into Fraser's eyes, the fear more apparent now.
"How do you feel about that?" Fraser suspected that Ray had no desire to see his brother, but he knew it would help if they discussed it.
Ray rubbed his hands together. "I.....I don't think I want to, Fraser." He stared at Fraser, his eyes asking for empathy.
"Ray, that's perfectly understandable considering what he did to you." He paused. "Did Dr. Hayward say why your brother wants to see you?"
"Yeah." Ray sighed. "He said that Steve feels guilty 'bout what he did ta me. He wants to apologize. Steve told him that he can't live out his prison term with this guilt hangin' over his head. The doctor's afraid he may try to kill himself unless I agree ta see him." Ray knew this last bit of information would probably change Fraser's opinion about him not wanting to see his brother. He again looked into Fraser's eyes, seeking commiseration.
Fraser had never communicated his feelings about Steve to Ray, but the truth was, he had come as close to hating this man for what he did to Ray, as he had with his own father's killer. Normally, he wouldn't have agreed that Ray cut all ties with his brother, but after seeing the lack of remorse in this man, he felt it was the best thing for Ray. Ray had said that he thought of Fraser as a brother, and he felt the same way about Ray, and in that role, he felt very protective of his partner.
It had been a slow process, but Ray finally seemed to recover from the incident with Steve, and Fraser felt it best that Ray remain distant from him. But now, he wasn't so certain. Perhaps Steve really did feel remorse. After all, he had been undergoing psychological therapy since he had first gone to prison, and after a year, it was plausible that he had experienced some sort of emotional rehabilitation. If he actually did want to apologize to Ray, and there was a chance that he might end his life if he couldn't reconcile with his brother, he knew Ray couldn't live with that knowledge. He surmised Ray would capitulate, not only to help Steve, but perhaps for the opportunity to finally develop a positive relationship with him. Fraser returned Ray's gaze, his heart going out to his partner. He sighed deeply.
"Ray, do you believe he wants to apologize?"
"I don't know, Frase. The doctor says he does."
"Do you care?" Even though Ray had written off his brother, Fraser felt he still cared about him. He also suspected that he still feared him. Ray regarded Fraser with uncertainty.
"I don't know how I feel, Frase." He thought a moment. "If he needs my help, then I guess I should help'im. But I don't know if I can forgive him. Cuz right now I don't."
"Well, up until now you had no reason to."
Ray nodded slowly.
"Ray, if it's true that Steve wants to apologize and make amends, do you desire a relationship with him?" Fraser didn't want to influence Ray as to whether to forgive his brother or not, that was clearly Ray's decision.
Ray crossed his arms on the table and laid his head down. Even after everything Steve had done, he knew in his heart that he wanted his brother in his life. He had been denying it for a long time. But if Steve wanted to make amends, he knew he couldn't say no.....even if he did still fear him. And the fact that the psychiatrist believed that he might take his own life meant Steve was probably telling the truth, and wanted to reconcile with Ray.
He raised his head and looked at Fraser again. "Ya' know, Fraser, Steve and I never had a good relationship, even when we were kids. But......but maybe now we sorta could have......" His voice trailed off. His eyes grew intense as he looked at Fraser. "I could never be as close with him as I am with you......I wouldn't even want that. You know that, don't ya', Frase?" Ray asked, his questioning eyes almost pleading.
That thought had crossed Fraser's mind, but it felt so painful to contemplate, he quickly dismissed it. And now Ray was bringing it up, almost as if he had read Fraser's mind, reassuring him that that could never happen. He felt himself becoming emotional.
"Yes, Ray, " he said in a near whisper, "I do know that, but I'm glad you told me anyway."
Ray smiled tentatively and rested his head on his hands again. After a few moments of silence, he sat upright. "So, I guess I'll call Dr. Hayward back and tell him okay," he looked to Fraser for confirmation.
"That's probably the best thing, Ray."
Three days later Ray sat nervously outside Dr. Hayward's office at Stateville Correctional Center, waiting to meet with Steve's prison psychiatrist and then with Steve himself. Fraser had offered to accompany him, but while Ray would feel more comfortable with him there, he had declined his offer, stating it was something he had to do alone, to which Fraser had nodded in understanding. Ray had said that he would stop in at the Consulate afterwards to tell him how everything went.
As Ray waited, he thought about the last time he had seen his brother. It was a year ago in prison, when Ray talked to Steve, at the request of the District Attorney, about cooperating with the authorities to help them locate his partner in crime. Ray had already written Steve off, and was only meeting with him as a favor to the DA. When they met, Steve had angrily reminded Ray that he had promised to help him. Of course, Ray had made that promise before Steve had deceived him, and as far as he was concerned, the promise was nullified by Steve's actions. Now a year later, Ray was here at the prison after agreeing to meet with Steve, feeling extremely apprehensive. But, if what the doctor had said was true, that Steve was truly remorseful, and if there was a chance he might take his own life over guilt, Ray had no choice but to meet with him.
The receptionist's buzzer went off. She picked up the receiver and glanced over towards Ray, nodding her head. As she hung up, she said to Ray, "Dr. Hayward will see you now."
Ray gave her a tentative smile as he rose slowly from his chair and approached the doctor's office. Dr. Hayward was sitting behind a large desk, rising with his hand outstretched as Ray entered his office. He was a tall solidly built man, appearing to be in his late 40's, with graying hair, eyeglasses and a warm face.
"Hello, Detective Kowalski, I'm Dr. Hayward. It's very nice to meet you." He gestured towards a chair in front of his desk. "Please, have a seat."
Ray shook his hand, "Thank you, Dr. Hayward. Nice to meet you." Ray sat down, still apprehensive, but there was something about the doctor's demeanor that helped diminish his anxiety.
"I'm glad you decided to see Steve. It means a lot to him," the doctor said as he examined what Ray assumed to be Steve's file.
"Yeah, well, if he wants to make amends, it wouldn't be right not ta see him," Ray responded quietly, forcing a sad smile to his lips. He didn't know how much his brother had actually told Dr. Hayward about their history, but was hoping the doctor would enlighten him.
"Well, Detective, according to Steve, he committed horrendous acts against you, and with therapy, he's come to realize just how wrong those actions were, and he now holds great remorse for his behavior. He understands that his lifelong feeling of resentment towards you was, in fact, not your fault."
This was the first Ray was ever hearing about his brother's resentment towards him. Apparently, the doctor had delved into Steve's background to ascertain the motive behind his actions, especially towards Ray. He remained silent, but gazed at the doctor questioningly. Upon noting his expression, the doctor continued to speak. "I take it you have no knowledge of your brother's ill will towards you and why he feels, or I should say, why he felt that way for so many years."
Ray shook his head slowly.
"Well, Detective, Steve was nine years old when you were born, at which time your parents turned most, if not all, of their attention towards you and away from him, at least in his mind. At age nine, he claims they expected him to basically care for himself, and in his words, they 'hung him out to dry'. And he blamed you for that. As the years went on this resentment festered, and developed into a hatred of you that he evidently could not control. He held you at fault for everything negative that happened in his life......for getting into trouble......performing poorly in school, basically everything. So when you reunited last year, Steve still carried those hateful feelings towards you, and he actually felt justified in his duplicitous treatment of you. But now, with therapy, he has come to comprehend that those feelings that began with your birth were not your fault. He now understands that he projected all his failures onto you unfairly. He no longer feels hostile towards you. He's hoping, with your consent, that the two of you can reconcile, and perhaps develop a close, brotherly relationship." The doctor stopped talking and looked into Ray's eyes for some kind of confirmation.
Ray was taken aback by all this information. He never knew his brother had hated him. They had never been close, that was true, and Steve wasn't very nice to him growing up, but he never would've thought that Steve resented him to the point of hating him. It was a lot to take in at once, but for now, he was willing to accept that his brother no longer felt that way and was willing to try to start over. And this was something Ray had hoped for even after the events of the previous year.
"Well, I'm willing to give it a try if he is," Ray said, still not comfortable providing the doctor with too much information. He was totally caught off guard by Dr. Hayward's next question.
"Do you love your brother?" he asked, his eyes studying Ray's face.
Ray shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He looked away from the doctor, and stared at the corner of his desk. "Um, I......he's my brother......I love him for that. But, I, uh.......I don't feel close to him. I don't really trust him. I......I don't really know him," he said quietly.
"I understand, Detective. Hopefully, you'll both be able to resolve your negative feelings towards one another."
Ray looked at Dr. Hayward. "My parents don't know Steve's in prison. Did he say anything to you 'bout tellin' them?" he asked nervously.
Steve hadn't seen or spoken with his parents since he was a teenager, and Ray didn't know if he wanted to reconcile with them as well.
"I'm glad you asked me that, Detective. Steve isn't ready for your parents to be notified of his incarceration. In fact, he told me that he doesn't even want to discuss them with you." He paused. "I take it you keep in contact with them?"
"Uh, yeah, we talk on the phone. They live in Arizona."
"Well, then, please, Detective, it would mean a lot to Steve if you didn't mention anything to them about his situation. It wouldn't benefit them or Steve at this point."
"Okay, I just wanted ta be sure." Ray was actually relieved. He knew his parents would be devastated if they knew.
The doctor seemed satisfied with Ray's answers and made some notations in Steve's file. He turned his attention back to Ray, "So, are you ready to see Steve?"
"I guess so. I just, uh, I really don't know what ta say to him." He was asking for help.
"Say whatever you feel, Detective. That's the same advice I gave to Steve. He's as nervous as you are about this meeting."
Hearing that made Ray feel somewhat less apprehensive. "I guess I'm ready."
Dr. Hayward led Ray out of his office, down the hall and through another door. Inside there was a spacious room encasing a large cell with bars. Inside the cell were two high windows, and a rectangular conference table with chairs. He directed Ray towards one of the chairs. "If you wait here, I'll bring Steve in. He won't be in restraints. I'll just be staying a few minutes to help you get started. Then you'll both be on your own. And when you want me you can just pick up that phone." He pointed to a phone on the side wall next to the bars, Ray's eyes following his arm. At that point, he noticed a large mirror next to the phone. He looked at the doctor, but before he could ask, the doctor spoke, "No, Detective, no one will be watching you. You and your brother will have complete privacy." Ray nodded. "I'll be right back with Steve." The doctor turned and left the cell, and then exited the room.
Ray sat quietly as he waited. His heart was literally in his throat......butterflies were doing somersaults in his stomach. The fact that his brother would not be in restraints actually made him nervous, but apparently the doctor felt they weren't necessary. Ray would've felt better if Fraser were with him, but he knew that this was a matter between him and Steve. He was planning to tell Fraser everything that occurred at this meeting, determined not to make the same mistake he had made a year earlier by lying. Yes, Fraser had readily forgiven him, but it had taken much longer for Ray to forgive himself.
Ray's thoughts were interrupted when he heard footsteps coming down the hall. Turning to face the door, he watched as his brother entered the room first. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit, looking the same as he had a year earlier, save for a few more lines on his face. As he entered the room, Steve's gaze fell towards Ray, a look of uncertainly in his eyes. Ray smiled tentatively as he stood and faced him. Dr. Hayward entered immediately behind Steve and began to speak. "Detective, Steve's been waiting some time for this meeting."
Steve jumped in, "Yeah, Ray, it's good ta see ya'." He approached Ray somewhat quickly, his arms slightly outstretched as if he wanted to hug him. Ray stepped back, not prepared for any type of physical affection. He offered his right hand instead. "Uh, hi, Steve, how are ya'?" He asked, finding it difficult to look into his brother's eyes, actually feeling like he wanted to cry. Steve paused at Ray's restrained reaction towards him, but quickly recovered and shook his hand, "Well, ya' know, Bro, prison, it ain't no country club." Ray tried to force a smile.
The doctor spoke, "Why don't you two have a seat and get reacquainted. You know how to reach me," he said as he glanced towards the phone on the wall.
"Yeah, thanks, Doc," Steve responded as he sat down at the conference table, his eyes never leaving Ray's face. Glancing towards the doctor, Ray took a seat on the other side of the table, nervously fidgeting while studying his hands as if he'd never seen them before. Steve regarded Ray for a few minutes until it became apparent that it was up to him to get things moving. "It's really good to see ya, Ray." He paused. "I guess I said that already."
Ray smiled anxiously, not removing his eyes from his hands. Steve continued, attempting to break through the tension that was permeating the room.
"Listen, Ray, I did some really bad things to you, and I'm really sorry. I been blaming you for a lotta things in my life. But I know now they weren't yer fault." He gazed at Ray, willing him to respond.
Ray finally tore his attention away from his hands and focused on his brother. "I'm sorry ya felt that way, Steve. But......" He stopped talking.
"What, Ray......say it," Steve urged.
Ray decided not to hold back, not knowing if he'd have this opportunity again. "How could you blame me for everything? I was a dumb kid, for chrissakes. I tried.....I tried all the time with you. But ya' just.....you were so mean ta me. I never knew why. I thought I did something wrong. And then last year I tried to help ya', and you still......." his voice trailed off. He was afraid he may have said too much, fearing Steve would be angry. But to his relief, he wasn't.
"I don't expect ya' to understand, Ray. Cuz it makes no sense. I can see that now. All I can do is ask you to forgive me, ta give me another chance. I don't know how to make it up to you in here, but I can try," he said surprisingly compassionate.
"You don't haveta do anything, Steve. Just don't hate me." Ray's eyes welled with tears.
"I don't, Ray. I love ya'. I can say that now. Yer my brother, and I did some real bad things to you. You didn't deserve any of it. I'm sorry. Do ya' think you can ever forgive me?" he asked, his eyes almost pleading.
Ray regarded his brother. This was what he had wanted for a long time, thinking perhaps it was too late, but now realizing that it wasn't. He could forgive his brother, they could be friends. Steve said he was willing to try. But even though Ray felt he could forgive Steve, he didn't think he could ever stop fearing his brother......the fear he felt his entire life.
"Yeah, Steve, I can forgive you. Maybe we can work on this brother thing together," Ray said, an encouraging but cautious smile on his face.
"What about yer partner?" Steve felt the need to ask.
"Fraser? What about him?" Ray asked, not understanding why Steve would mention Fraser.
"How does he feel 'bout this whole thing? He tell ya' not ta come?"
"No, he told me I should." Ray replied, recalling the discussion he had had with his partner regarding Steve.
"Oh yeah? That's surprising."
"Cuz he hates me, Bro," Steve gazed into Ray's eyes as he spoke.
"Nah, he was just a little upset.....well, I guess he was a lot upset with you, but he doesn't hate ya'." He paused as he thought about the Mountie. "Nah, Fraser doesn't hate anybody."
"Well, okay, but that wacko dog of his does."
Ray smiled sadly shaking his head.
"No, really, Bro, is the Mountie okay with this?" Steve had seen the look in Fraser's eyes when Ray had arrested him, and he recognized hate when he saw it. After all, he had felt it all his life for his brother, the one who was sitting across from him now, the one he was asking for forgiveness.
"He's good, he's great. Don't worry 'bout Fraser."
"Okay, Bro, if you say so." There still was tension in the room. Ray realized it would take more than one meeting to ease that feeling between them, but he felt they had made progress today, quite a bit of progress.
He pushed his chair back. "Um, well, look, Steve. I can come back again and visit, if that's okay with you." Ray looked into his brother's eyes afraid he might see rejection, but again, there was none.
"Yeah, Bro, that's great. I'd like that." He paused. "So, ya' leavin'?"
Ray hadn't planned on leaving so soon, but the emotional toll this meeting was taking on him was more than he had expected, even though it had gone well.
"Uh, yeah, I gotta get back ta work. But, I'll come back and we can talk again." Ray stood.
"Okay, Bro. Sounds good." Steve smiled warmly. Ray couldn't help but return the smile as he walked around the large table and slowly approached his brother. They stood and stared at each other for a few awkward moments. Ray finally extended his right hand and Steve took it, but then pulled him into an unexpected hug. Ray, still uncomfortable with Steve, quickly broke off their contact, not ready for this after just one meeting. Avoiding Steve's eyes he turned and walked over to the phone, picked up the receiver and asked to have Dr. Hayward return to the cell. The doctor apparently had been nearby, as Ray had just hung up the phone when he appeared at the door, accompanied by a guard. Dr. Hayward surmised from the expression on both men's faces that the meeting had gone well.
"So, gentlemen, everything okay here?" he asked optimistically.
"Yeah, it's pretty good," Steve responded as he glanced towards Ray. "My brother's gonna visit me again."
"I'm glad to hear that, Steve." Dr. Hayward was obviously pleased with the news. Turning to Ray, he gestured towards the door. "Shall we, Detective?"
"Yeah." Ray walked over to Steve and shook his hand again, placing his left hand on Steve's shoulder. "I'll see ya' again soon."
The guard led Steve from the room, Ray and Dr. Hayward following, but turning in the opposite direction once they were in the hall.
"So, Detective, I take it you made the right decision by coming here today?"
"Looks that way.......hope so." Ray was still cautious, concerned that he still feared his brother, wondering if he could ever let go of that fear.
"Well, I hope so too, Detective. I'll be talking to Steve later about your meeting. I'd also like to talk to you about it."
Ray wasn't comfortable talking to Dr. Hayward about his feelings for his brother, but he knew it would probably benefit Steve. "Uh, sure."
"Can I call you later then......about four o'clock?'
"Do ya' think you can call me later on at home, about six? I don't wanna talk about this from the precinct."
"Of course." Ray removed a pen and a card from his jacket pocket, scribbled his home number on the back of the card and handed it to Dr. Hayward. "Thank you, Detective."
He led Ray to the prison entrance. As Ray signed out and retrieved his gun, the doctor extended his hand. "If you call me before you come, I can arrange for you to meet with Steve privately again. As long as he's under my care, you don't have to go through the usual formalities." Ray shook his hand, "Thanks, doctor. I'll talk to ya later." The doctor nodded as Ray turned to leave, feeling more hopeful than he had in more than a year.
Ray had some business to finish up at the precinct, after which he had planned to stop in at the Consulate to tell Fraser what had happened at the prison. But once he reached the station, he became tied up with more cases and was forced to stay to complete the necessary paperwork. He called Fraser to tell him he'd pick him up a little after five o'clock, and they could go to Ray's apartment, order dinner and talk there. He was expecting the call from Dr. Hayward at six, and wanted to be home to receive it. Fraser had been very anxious to learn the particulars of Ray's meeting with Steve, but Ray wasn't forthcoming on the phone. He did notice, however, that Ray had sounded upbeat, leading him to believe that everything went well. He had mixed emotions about Ray reconciling with his brother, not yet convinced that Steve was being sincere, even though the psychiatrist had told Ray that he had experienced a transformation. Assuming Ray was returning to the prison, he had decided to ask if he could accompany him on his next visit, so he could meet with Steve and form his own opinion.
At 5:10pm, Ray pulled up in front of the Consulate in his black GTO, almost driving up onto the sidewalk. He noticed Fraser and Diefenbaker waiting outside as he reached over to unlock the passenger door. Diefenbaker bounded to the car, followed quickly by Fraser. As he opened the car door, Fraser pulled the seat forward for Dief and situated himself next to Ray. He was wearing jeans, a denim button down shirt, his black leather jacket, and carrying his stetson, which he placed in its usual spot on the dashboard.
Ray observed Fraser with a smile, "Hey Benton buddy, how was yer day?"
"Good, Ray. I'm more anxious to hear about yours." He returned Ray's smile, only his was tentative.
Ray quickly sped off and headed towards his apartment. "We'll talk about it when we get ta my place, but I'll tell ya' now that things between me and Steve are better. I think they're gonna be good." He thought for a moment. "I figure we'll order, say, Chinese, so I can be home when Dr. Hayward calls. That okay with you, Frase?" He glanced over towards his partner.
"Yes, that's sounds fine, Ray. I promised Diefenbaker a special dinner as he's behaved exceptionally well today." At that, Dief gave a short yelp in the back seat.
"That true, Dief?" Ray asked, eyeing the wolf in his rear view mirror. "How 'bout some moo shu beef, or maybe some sweet 'n sour soup?" Diefenbaker barked again in response.
"Both? Ya' got one hungry wolf back there, Frase," Ray said smiling, tossing a furtive glance to Fraser as he spoke. Fraser kept his eyes towards the road, smiling at his partner's mood.
When they had reached Ray's apartment, both men settled on the couch, Diefenbaker lying by the coffee table. They decided to order dinner after Ray spoke to Dr. Hayward on the phone. He had told Fraser about his meeting with Dr. Hayward and then with Steve, what the doctor had said about Steve's feelings of resentment towards him and that Steve had asked Ray to forgive him. Fraser listened quietly. After Ray mentioned that he was planning to visit Steve again, Fraser spoke.
"You never had any idea that Steve felt that way about you?"
"Nah, I knew he had no use fer me, but I didn't know he hated me. But he said he doesn't feel that way anymore. He knows all that stuff that happened to him wasn't my fault."
Fraser watched Ray as he spoke. He looked so hopeful. But Fraser was skeptical that thirty-seven years of deep-rooted hatred and resentment could be erased with barely one year of therapy, regardless of how intense that therapy had been.
"Ray, would you mind if I accompanied you on your next visit?"
"Jeez, I dunno, Frase. It might make him uncomfortable." He paused. "He talked about you, ya' know." Ray watched Fraser's reaction to his disclosure.
"He spoke about me? What did he say?" This revelation was unforseen.
"Well, he, uh, he said you hated him."
Fraser was stunned. He didn't want Ray to know how he felt about Steve, but here his feelings were being laid out in front of him, and by Steve himself, though indirectly. He didn't say anything.
Ray continued. "I told him it wasn't true, that you don't hate anybody." He thought a moment. "I don't think he believed me though." He looked at Fraser with questioning eyes.
Fraser didn't know what to say. He couldn't lie to Ray, but he didn't feel right telling him that he did, in fact, feel hatred towards Steve. He kept his eyes averted from Ray's, examining the remote control that lay on the coffee table.
"Hey, Frase, how come yer not saying anything? Is Steve right? Do ya' hate him?" he asked with trepidation in his voice.
Fraser had to respond. "It isn't that easy, Ray. Emotions are complicated to explain. In this case........"
"No, Frase. Either ya' hate somebody or ya' don't," Ray interrupted, feeling angry, why, he didn't know. "Do ya' hate him or not?"
"I can only say that I have hateful feelings towards him for what he did to you, Ray. But I don't know him well enough to say that I outright hate him." He hoped that answer would satisfy his partner.
"I guess I know what ya' mean. So, ya' think if you came with me, you could see for yerself that he changed, and then you'd feel better 'bout him?"
"Yes, Ray, that would probably be the best approach. Of course, I wouldn't remain for your entire visit. I understand that Steve might be uncomfortable with me there."
Ray nodded and tilted his head to the side, "Yeah, okay, Frase. That sounds good."
The phone rang. Both men glanced at the clock......6:03PM. It had to be Dr. Hayward.
"Would you like some privacy, Ray?" Fraser asked as he rose from the couch.
"No, Frase, stay here. I got no secrets from you," he responded as he reached for the phone.
Fraser returned to the couch, feeling relieved at Ray's words.
He listened to Ray's side of the conversation, which, again, was mostly one sided on Dr. Hayward's part. He watched Ray smile as he spoke to the doctor with short, intermittent statements, "Yeah, it was, or "I thought so too." Then Ray began to speak. Apparently, the doctor had asked him how he felt the meeting had gone. He spoke slowly, seemingly unsure of his words.
"Well, he told me he doesn't hate me anymore. He wants ta work it out. I guess all that therapy really works, cuz he seemed ta mean it. I wanna work it out too. I know I cut the meeting short, but it was just......hard.......finding out all that stuff about how he felt since he was a kid....I just didn't wanna mess things up. Well, I don't know about that, but do ya' think I can come on Saturday? Yeah, that's good. Uh......" Ray gazed towards Fraser, whose eyes hadn't left his partner since the phone call began. "Do ya' think my partner can come too?" Ray nodded as if the doctor could see him. "Yeah, Constable Fraser..........I know Steve thinks that, but he's wrong." Ray listened. "Yeah, it's important ta me. Okay. Thanks, Dr. Hayward. Yeah, we'll see ya around eleven on Saturday."
Ray hung up the phone. He smiled at Fraser. "Okay, Frase, it's all set for Saturday. That good with you?"
"Yes, Ray, that's fine." His smile belied his feelings.
"Great, Frase, greatness."
Fraser and Ray waited in the same cell with the large conference table where the original meeting had taken place. Both men were casually dressed in jeans, Fraser in a white button down shirt, Ray in a dark t-shirt, their leather jackets hanging on the backs of their chairs. Ray was apprehensive again, this time because Fraser was there. He had thought having him there would help him feel more at ease, but that was before Steve had said that Fraser hated him. Even though Fraser had told him it wasn't true, he had admitted that he harbored 'hateful feelings' towards Steve. But having thought all that, Ray was confident Steve could win Fraser over.
The doctor entered the room with Steve at his side. Steve quickly approached Ray, giving him a hug, causing Ray to feel very uncomfortable. As he wrapped his arms around Ray, he spoke, his eyes boring into Fraser's. "Hey Bro, ya' came back," he feigned surprise. Then he stepped back, "I see ya brought yer partner," his eyes never leaving Fraser.
"Yeah, you don't mind, do ya', Steve?" Ray asked nervously. "Fraser wanted to, uh, say hello to ya'."
"Nah, any friend of yers, Bro...." Steve's voice trailed off as he extended his hand to Fraser. "Hey, Constable, welcome to my world."
"Please, call me Fraser," he said as he shook Steve's hand.
Dr. Hayward jumped in, "I understand Constable Fraser won't be staying for the entire visit. So, Constable, please pick up that phone when you're ready to leave and the guard will escort you to the waiting area."
Fraser glanced towards the phone, "Thank you, Dr. Hayward, I will." The doctor smiled towards Ray and Steve and left the room.
After an awkward few moments, Steve spoke. "Why don't we siddown and get comfy?"
He sat in the same chair he had during the initial meeting, Fraser following Ray to the other side of the conference table, both taking chairs opposite Steve.
"So, Consta......I mean, Fraser, Ray tells me ya' don't hate me after all," Steve said somewhat smugly.
"Why, no, of course not........may I call you Steve?"
"Knock yerself out."
"Thank you, Steve. I had concerns for Ray, as I'm sure you understand after the events of last year."
Steve frowned as he turned towards Ray. "He always talk like that?"
"Uh, well, ya' know, Canadian," Ray shrugged.
"Oh, yeah." Steve addressed Fraser. "I understand, Fraser. But that's all in the past now. With Doc Hayward's help, I don't feel like I used to anymore. Ray's my only brother, and I treated him pretty bad all his life, and that's gonna change startin' now." He smiled at Ray as he spoke.
"Well, I'm glad to hear that, Steve. Ray's my partner and closest friend and my main priority is his welfare."
Ray wasn't happy having his partner and brother talk about him as if he weren't in the room, but he held his tongue.
"Yeah, I care 'bout his welfare too," Steve replied flippantly. He decided that he didn't like Fraser.
"Then we agree," Fraser said, pausing as he studied Steve's face. He may not have hated Steve, but he definitely didn't like him. Ray took the opportunity to speak.
"Okay, now that we got that settled......." He smiled at Steve. "So, how ya' feelin?"
Before he could answer, Fraser stood up. "Why don't I leave you two alone? I know you probably have a lot to talk about."
Ray didn't want Fraser to leave, and, in point of fact, he actually didn't have a lot to say to his brother, plus he still felt uncomfortable with him. But he knew the uneasiness he felt around Steve would eventually fade.....at least he hoped it would.
"Okay, Frase, I'll see ya' in a little while."
Fraser walked around the table and approached Steve, holding out his right hand. "It was very nice to meet you, Steve. I'm happy to see that you and Ray are working things out."
Steve stood and shook Fraser's hand. "Yeah, so am I."
Fraser gave Ray a reassuring smile, lifted his jacket off the back of the chair, and approached the phone. As he picked up the receiver, he glanced back at Steve who was watching him with an expression he couldn't quite read. Jealousy perhaps? No.....he wasn't sure. The guard appeared and escorted Fraser from the room.
After Fraser left, Steve turned to Ray. "He's like a mother hen to ya'," he sounded annoyed.
"Yeah, well, Fraser worries, I guess that's what buddies do. But once ya' get to know him......"
"Yeah, yeah, I know, ya' love him," Steve interrupted. "Listen, Bro, you still okay with this? You didn't change yer mind, did ya'?" Steve asked with concern in his eyes.
"No, Steve. Why.....did you?"
"No, uh uh, I didn't change my mind. I never been so sure of anything in my life," he said with conviction.
"Good, that's good." Ray smiled. Hearing that from his brother helped ease his persistent anxiety.
Steve's eyes lit up. "Hey I gotta tell ya' somethin' really funny that happened the other day.........." Steve leaned in closer as he told Ray the story.
Fraser waited for Ray in the hallway. The guard had wanted him to go out to the waiting area, but he had told him that he might be needed back inside. The truth was, he felt more comfortable being closer to Ray while he met with his brother. Every now and then he'd hear laughing, usually Steve's loud bellowing roar, followed by an uncertain chuckle from Ray. He couldn't hear what was being said, but primarily heard Steve's voice, as it was louder than Ray's, plus Steve seemed to be doing most of the talking. Fraser still wasn't totally convinced of Steve's sincerity. He had wanted to speak with Dr. Hayward to get a better handle on Steve's state of mind. But he knew Ray would be angry with him if he did, so he resigned himself to being there for Ray and offering his opinion when solicited.
After about thirty minutes, Dr. Hayward appeared, surprised to see Fraser standing in the hall.
"Constable, you're not in the waiting area," he sounded irritated.
"No, Dr. Hayward, I felt more comfortable waiting here." Fraser decided to take this opportunity to say something. "Do you feel everything will work out for Ray and Steve?" He chose his words carefully.
"Well, Constable, no one can predict the future, but I'm confident that Steve wants to reconcile with his brother. And Ray appears to be equally as committed."
"I'm glad you feel that way, Doctor Hayward. I know we only want the best for both of them."
Dr. Hayward nodded as he proceeded towards the room where Ray and Steve were visiting, motioning the guard to follow. Apparently, Ray had called for the doctor on the phone. A few minutes later, Steve appeared in the doorway accompanied by the guard, followed by Ray and Dr. Hayward. As he passed Fraser, Steve stopped and held out his hand again. "I'm sure I'll be seeing more of ya', Fraser."
"Yes, I would assume so," he replied, shaking hands with Steve.
Steve glanced over his shoulder to Ray, "See ya', Bro."
"So long, Steve." The guard escorted Steve down the hall and around the corner.
"Well, Detective, how did your second visit go?" Dr. Hayward asked Ray.
"It was good. I know it'll take time." He seemed anxious to leave.
"I'm glad to hear it went well. So, you'll call in a few days when you're ready to return?"
"Um, I don't know, I, uh....maybe I shouldn't come back so soon."
"Well, Detective, I feel it would be better for Steve as well as yourself if you visited him at least once a week, preferably more." Dr. Hayward sounded adamant.
"Uh, okay, if you say so, probably Wednesday or Thursday......I'll let ya know."
"Thank you, Detective. I'll show you out."
Fraser and Ray followed Dr. Hayward to the prison entrance where they signed out. Ray retrieved his gun, they both shook hands with the doctor and left.
Ray continued to visit Steve about two times per week according to Dr. Hayward's instructions, his subsequent visits without Fraser. Much to Fraser's dismay, Ray rarely mentioned his brother or their meetings together. He didn't want to pry, but the times when Ray did talk about Steve, he always seemed to be sad or disappointed about something. Fraser had the distinct impression that Ray wasn't happy with the progression of their relationship. He seemed tense and more quick-tempered than usual, especially on the days before his visits. Fraser had wanted to talk to him about it, but had promised himself that he wouldn't interfere in Ray's relationship with his brother unless asked, as difficult as that was proving to be. He was actually being very perceptive, as Ray actually wasn't encouraged by the progress, or lack thereof, of his new alliance with Steve. However, Dr. Hayward had assured Ray that he was very pleased with how things were going, and that he saw a marked improvement in Steve's overall demeanor since Ray had been visiting. The truth was, Ray still felt as intimidated and uneasy around his brother as he had when he first visited him at the prison. He knew he'd never be nearly as comfortable with Steve as he felt when he was with Fraser, which actually wasn't concerning him as he didn't feel as relaxed around anyone as he did with Fraser. But the apprehension he felt before and during his visits was the source of many sleepless nights for Ray. He knew it was his problem, not Steve's, so he didn't feel justified talking to Dr. Hayward about it. He had thought about discussing it with Fraser, but because he felt Fraser disliked Steve, he decided it was best to keep the matter to himself. But he still had hope.
It had been about two months since Ray and Steve had had their first meeting. Having just returned from lunch, Ray sat in his chair at his desk, Fraser in his, Diefenbaker lying at Ray's feet. Because Ray hadn't seen Steve in over a week, he was feeling less tense than he had in some time. The fear that he felt around his brother had been grating on him. For that reason, he had cut back on the frequency of visits, although Dr. Hayward wasn't pleased with his decision. Being away from Steve this past week made for a very relaxed blonde detective, a correlation Fraser easily perceived. He couldn't help but notice his partner's more laid back attitude.
"So, Ray, would you like to take in a movie tonight?" Fraser asked, realizing they hadn't attended one since Steve entered the picture.
Ray contemplated Fraser's suggestion. "I dunno, Frase. Do we haveta see some foreign flick with those dumb subtitles? Whenever we go ta one of those, before ya' know it, I'm makin' ZZZZ's."
"Ray, I wish you'd give foreign films a chance. They can be quite entertaining as well as......."
"Dull as dishwater?" Ray interrupted.
"No, Ray, enlightening."
"I don't go to the movies to be enlightened, Fraser. I go to laugh or scream or ta see something disgustin' that's gonna make me wanna toss my cookies."
"Why would you want to toss your cookies, Ray? I thought you liked cookies," Fraser said, confused.
"Toss yer cookies, Fraser. Puke. Heave. Retch. Hurl. Ralph......"
Fraser interrupted. "Thank you, Ray, I'm afraid I get the picture."
At that moment, three men dressed in dark suits entered the squad room, all three with 'stay-outta-my-face' expressions. Ray recognized them from Internal Affairs. Apparently, everyone else recognized them as well since all eyes followed the men as they entered Lieutenant Welsh's office, without benefit of knocking.
"Wonder what that's about," Ray said as he watched Welsh's door close.
"Who are they, Ray?" Fraser asked.
"They're from IA. One of them's a bigwig. Always a bad sign when they come 'round. I wonder what's up."
"Well, perhaps Leftenant Welsh will fill us in when they leave."
"I wouldn't bet on it, Frase." Ray looked up as Francesca approached carrying several files, one of which she dropped onto Ray's desk.
"Hi Fraser," she ignored Ray. "Did I hear you say something about going to the movies tonight?"
Fraser stirred uncomfortably in his chair as he loosened the collar of his serge. "Well, Francesca, Ray and I decided not to attend as, apparently, he would rather thrust his cookies than see the same movie I would," Fraser explained.
"Thrust his cookies, Fraser?" Francesca looked over towards Ray who shrugged.
"Why yes, Francesca, thrust his cookies. Puke. Heave. Retch. Hurl. Ralph......."
"Fraser!" Francesca stopped him, a horrified look on her face. Ray tried his best not to laugh. She stared at him accusingly as he turned his head away. "You!" she charged, pointing her finger at Ray, "It's all your fault. You're corrupting him!"
"Francesca, I assure you, Ray is not corrupting me. I was merely explaining why we decided not to attend a movie tonight," Fraser innocently defended Ray.
"Fraser, you're spending too much time with that lowlife degenerate, he's rubbing off on you," she warned.
Ray gripped his chest as if he were just shot. "Aw, Frannie, that hurts."
"I'll show you what hurts......."
"I assure you, Francesca, that nothing's rubbing off on me, least of all Ray, and I feel you should apologize for calling him, what was that you said, a 'lowlife degenerate'."
"Yeah, Frannie, apologize," Ray feigned offense.
"Sure, Ray, I'll apologize.......when you're good looking." She turned and walked away.
Fraser looked at Ray. "I believe Francesca just insulted you, Ray."
"Nah, Frase. That's just her way of sayin' she wants me."
"Of course, Ray."
At that moment, Welsh's door opened and he appeared in the doorway, a pained expression on his face. He glanced over towards Ray.
"Vecchio, in my office please." He didn't wait for Ray to respond as he returned to his office, leaving the door open.
Ray slowly rose from his chair, tossing Fraser a concerned look over his shoulder as he approached Welsh's office. Now all eyes were on Ray as he disappeared through the door.
The three men from Internal Affairs were standing to the left of Welsh's desk. Ray entered the room and stood to their right facing Welsh, who leaned against his desk. He didn't look happy.
"Detective, I believe you know Lieutenant Harrison and Detectives Williams and McCarthy." Ray briefly glanced at all three men and turned his attention back to Welsh.
"What's this about, Lieutenant?" he asked.
Before Welsh could respond, the 'bigwig' Ray had referred to, Lt. Harrison, began to speak. "Detective, you have a brother, Steven Kowalski, currently serving time at Stateville?"
Ray's head jolted in Williams' direction. "Yeah, so?"
"Well, he escaped early this morning," Williams said, his eyes squinting as he studied Ray's reaction to his words.
"He what? When?" Ray was stunned by this announcement.
"Apparently, he slipped out in a laundry truck about seven o'clock this morning. The arrival and departure times of all delivery vehicles are considered classified information. They run on an arbitrary schedule to avoid any, let's say, unforseen circumstances, like a prisoner planning to hitch a ride in one. So, what we'd like to know is, first, how he obtained knowledge of the schedule and, second, who the driver of the truck was. The regular driver received a call from an unidentified prison authority telling him the delivery was canceled and not to report to work. Obviously someone on the outside provided your brother with the schedule, and drove the truck or hired someone to do it," Harrison said in an accusatory tone.
"What, you.....you think I helped him? What are ya'.... are ya' outta yer mind? I got nothin' to do with that prison. How would I know the delivery schedule?" Ray spat the words with contempt.
"Detective," Lieutenant Welsh interjected, "No one is accusing you ......."
"The hell they're not!" Ray bellowed.
Lieutenant Harrison cut in. "Are you refusing to cooperate, Detective?"
Ray realized he had to calm down. He took a deep breath. "Go ahead."
Harrison continued. "You've been visiting your brother on a regular basis for the past two months, is that correct, Detective?" he asked forcefully.
It took all of Ray's restraint not to lunge at that smug blowhard. "Yeah, so?"
"And you've been calling him?"
"So, what? He's my brother. I'm gonna visit him.....I'm gonna call him." He was trying hard to control his anger.
"Where were you this morning around seven?"
"I was sleepin' in my apartment," he growled, vein throbbing at his temple.
"Is there anyone who can corroborate that, Detective?" Harrison asked with skepticism.
Ray shook his head, his hands clenched into fists at his side.
"I'm sorry, Detective Kowalski, but you're suspended pending the outcome of our investigation of your brother's flight from Stateville," Harrison recited.
"That's nuts!" Ray screamed. "I told ya' I got nothin' ta do with that prison. How the hell would I know the stupid laundry schedule?"
"You're a cop, you have access to the Corrections Department's computer records. You could find out what an inmate had for breakfast if you wanted to," Harrison shouted, his eyes narrowed.
Lieutenant Welsh jumped in. "Lieutenant Harrison, is it really necessary to suspend Detective Kowal........."
"Forget it, Lieu. They already think I did it. Let 'em suspend me," Ray spat, his face flushed with rage.
"We have some men on their way to check out your apartment now, Detective. Don't go home until Lieutenant Welsh gives you the go ahead."
Ray shook his head slowly as he stared at the floor. His blood was boiling.....he just wanted out of there.
"Detective, I'm gonna haveta take your shield," Welsh said, almost apologetically.
Ray kept his head down as he raised his eyes and glared defiantly at Welsh. He seized his shield from his back pocket and slammed it onto Welsh's desk.
"And his weapon," Harrison chided.
Ray didn't hesitate. He snatched the gun from his shoulder holster and dropped it on the desk.
"Is that all?" he hissed, his eyes trained on his shield.
"Get outta here. And don't leave town," Harrison warned.
Ray spun around on his heels and stormed towards the door. He threw it open, hard enough to slam against the wall and bounce back, almost hitting him as he bolted through the doorway. Everyone in the squad room had heard the commotion and, as they had been when he entered, all eyes were now on him as he exited. Ray didn't bother to look up, keeping his head down as he charged out of the bullpen.
Fraser was up in a flash. He grabbed Ray's jacket and sprinted after him trying to catch up, Diefenbaker bounding ahead of him. By the time he reached the parking lot, Ray was already pulling out.
"Ray!" he called out loudly as he ran towards the car with Diefenbaker.
The GTO screeched to a halt. Ray reached over and unlocked the passenger door. Fraser quickly opened it, held the seat for Dief, and jumped in. He was just pulling the door shut as Ray floored the accelerator and raced out of the parking lot.
Fraser studied Ray as he drove, both hands gripping the steering wheel, his jaw clenched, eyes straight ahead. He had noticed Ray's gun missing from his shoulder holster and suspected that he had been suspended. He, as well as the entire squad room, had heard Ray blow a gasket in Welsh's office. Ray was furious, his anger reflected in his driving.
Ray depressed the accelerator further.
"Ray." Fraser repeated, more firmly.
Ray squirmed in the driver's seat, but didn't respond.
"Ray! Either you calm yourself down or you pull over!" he shouted.
A second later Ray swerved the car into an alley and slammed on the brakes, Diefenbaker almost falling to the floor from the jolt.
Ray sat upright, eyes still straight ahead, jaw clenched, hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly his fingers were turning white. Fraser reached over, shifted the car into park and turned off the engine. He placed his hand over Ray's.
"Ray, let go of the wheel," he said quietly.
Ray took a deep breath and released the steering wheel. He buried his face in his hands.
"They suspended me, Frase," his voice cracked.
"Why, Ray, what happened?"
Ray ignored the question. "I'm so stupid, I'm so fucking stupid. I can't believe it, Fraser," his voice was trembling. "I can't believe I let him do it to me again."
"Ray, tell me what happened. Who are you talking about?" He had a sick feeling Ray was talking about Steve.
Ray removed his hands from his face and grabbed the steering wheel at the top, resting his head against his hands.
"I knew it didn't feel right," he almost whispered.
"Ray, we should go to your apartment and talk," Fraser said, almost afraid to hear what Ray had to say.
"No, Fraser, IA sent over some creeps to go through my stuff. I can't go home 'til Welsh calls."
Fraser shook his head, wavering between concern for his partner and anger at what was happening to him.
"All right, we'll go to the Consulate then."
"But what about.........."
"Inspector Thatcher is attending an all day conference and Turnbull won't bother you."
Ray thought for a moment. "All right, Fraser. I just.........." his voice broke.
"Let me drive, Ray." Fraser placed his hand on Ray's shoulder.
Ray slowly sat up and looked at Fraser, his anger replaced by a sullen expression, his eyes not fully focused.
"Yeah, sure, Fraser."
Fraser got out of the car and walked around the front as Ray moved over to the passenger side. He kept his eyes on Ray as he slid into the driver's seat. Ray was now slouched in his seat, his right elbow leaning on the door handle, his head resting on his hand. His eyes were closed, and his lips were moving as he mumbled something under his breath.
They arrived at the Consulate and Fraser parked the car in front. Ray didn't stir. Fraser got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side and opened the door for Ray, startling him.
"We're here, Ray."
Looking up to see for himself, Ray nodded, dragged himself from the car and walked straight to the front door. Fraser pulled the front seat forward for Diefenbaker and rushed to catch up with Ray as he entered the building. Turnbull, who was on the phone in the reception area, motioned to Fraser to wait as Ray continued towards the office with Diefenbaker at his side. Turnbull placed his hand over the mouthpiece and whispered to Fraser, "Sir, Inspector Thatcher called and........."
"Not now, Turnbull," he said abruptly. "And please don't transfer any calls to my office." He rushed to catch up with Ray.
Turnbull called after him, "But, sir, Inspector Thatcher......."
Fraser had already entered his office and closed the door. Ray dropped into the chair behind Fraser's desk, resting his head on his crossed arms, Diefenbaker at his feet. He felt so very tired.
"Ray, can I get you anything?"
"No, Frase. Thanks."
Fraser took the chair across the desk and waited.
After a few minutes, Ray sat upright and gazed at his partner. He took a deep breath. "Steve bolted this morning, Fraser. They're sayin' I helped him."
Fraser sighed at Ray's words. He wasn't surprised.
Ray told him what had happened in Welsh's office, how Lieutenant Harrison from Internal Affairs had just short of accused him of assisting in his brother's flight. He related the details of Steve's escape, the circumstances pointing to an outside second party.
"I can't believe how stupid I am, Fraser. I let him fool me again."
"No, Ray. I don't believe he fooled you."
Ray narrowed his eyes and tilted his head in a silent question.
Fraser explained. "You're afraid of him, you still don't trust him, and you continue to feel anxious when you're with him. Isn't that true, Ray?"
Ray didn't respond. He stared at Fraser with a stunned expression on his face. He thought he had been successful in hiding his apprehension about Steve, but obviously not from Fraser.
"Deep down, you felt he hadn't changed, Ray. But you wanted so much to believe that he had, you ignored your feelings and kept trying to connect with him."
Ray slowly shook his head. "He didn't fool you either, did he, Frase?"
"No, Ray, but I wasn't as emotionally involved as you. It was easier for me to see through him."
As Fraser spoke, his eyes grew wide. "Ray, we have to go back to Stateville Prison."
Before he could respond, Ray's cell phone rang. Fraser retrieved it from Ray's jacket pocket, and handed it to him. "Vecchio," he sighed.
It was Welsh. "Detective, I need you to come back to the precinct immediately. Is the Mountie with you?"
"Yes sir," Ray shook his head slowly as he closed his eyes.
"Bring him also."
Fraser could see fear creeping into Ray's face. "We gotta go back to the precinct, Frase."
By the time Fraser and Ray reached the precinct, the squad room was almost deserted, save for the cleaning man and one or two detectives. Fraser left Diefenbaker at the Consulate with Turnbull, who had again tried unsuccessfully to speak to Fraser about Inspector Thatcher's phone call. As they approached Lieutenant Welsh's office, they could see that the officers from IA were still there.
"Jesus," Ray mumbled under his breath, as they entered the office, his guard already up.
Welsh spoke. "Constable, this is Lieutenant Harrison and Detectives Williams and McCarthy." Fraser nodded politely. "Gentlemen, Constable Benton Fraser." The three cops scrutinized Fraser, who was still in uniform, his stetson at his side.
Harrison immediately jumped in. "What's he doing here?" he jabbed his finger in Fraser's direction. "He's not involved with this."
"He stays," Welsh barked. "And didn't your Mother ever teach you it's not polite to point?"
"Never mind," Harrison recognized Welsh's tone and resigned himself to Fraser remaining.
"Whaddya want now?" Ray barked, feeling both angry and nervous at being called back to the station.
Harrison faced Ray. "Detective, we need to ask you a few more questions, if you don't mind," he said sarcastically.
"What, what! Just ask!" Ray snapped. Harrison kept his eyes trained on Ray as he held his open palm out to McCarthy, who handed him a file folder.
He opened the folder and removed a letter size piece of paper, waving it in front of Ray's face. "Does this look familiar to you?"
Ray snatched the paper and scanned it, Fraser peering over his shoulder. It was Stateville's laundry delivery schedule for that week. Ray started to fume.
"No." He shoved the paper back at Harrison.
"Well, it should, Detective. It was found in your apartment."
Ray was ready to pounce. "The hell it was! I never saw that paper before," he hissed, his voice dripping with contempt.
"I suggest you look at it again, Detective. It was in your apartment." He removed another paper from the file and held it out for Ray. "And you may find this information interesting."
Ray's eyes narrowed with rage. He grabbed the paper from Harrison and glared at it, Fraser again looking over his shoulder. It was a page from a pending phone bill........Ray's phone bill. One call was highlighted.
"What's this number?" Ray snapped.
"It belongs to the regular driver of the laundry truck. That phone call was made at nine o'clock last night, the same time he received the call about the delivery being canceled for this morning. The call was made from your apartment, Detective." Harrison gave Ray a spiteful smile.
"I wasn't even home last night at nine," Ray hissed through clenched teeth. "I didn't leave the Consulate 'til 9:30."
"That's true, Leftenant Harrison, Ray was with me at the Consulate until 9:30 last night," Fraser confirmed Ray's statement.
"Well, isn't that cozy," Harrison spewed. "You're partners.....you think I don't know you're gonna back him up?" He narrowed his eyes at Ray. "Did anyone else see you between the time you allegedly left the Consulate and the time you reached your apartment?"
Ray stared at Harrison. "How the hell do I know!" he snarled.
"Well, Detective, until you come up with a credible alibi, as far as IA is concerned, you were home last night at nine o'clock making that phone call."
Ray shook his head slowly, his eyes blazing with venom. He turned towards Welsh. "Lieu, I'm telling ya' I didn't leave the Consulate 'til 9:30 last night. You don't haveta believe me, but ya' know Fraser doesn't lie." He was almost pleading.
"Look, I'm sorry about this, Detective, you got a raw deal. But right now my hands are tied," Welsh responded apologetically.
Fraser couldn't allow this to continue. "Obviously, someone has set up Detective Kowalski. If you review his exemplary record, you'll see that he couldn't........."
"Your comments are unwarranted, Constable," Harrison barked. "Now please shut your mouth so I can do my job." Fraser's eyes flashed with anger. Harrison stared at Ray, who glared at him defiantly. "Turn around, Detective."
Ray hesitated a moment, then turned to face Fraser. Their eyes met and locked as McCarthy stepped forward with handcuffs. "Put your hands behind your back." Ray complied, still looking into Fraser's eyes, gaining strength and encouragement from his partner's tacit expression.
"You're under arrest for accessory to felony escape." McCarthy proceeded to read Ray his rights as he frisked him, locating his boot gun. During the entire procedure, Ray's eyes were still locked onto Fraser's.
As Harrison opened the door to leave, he turned back to Welsh, "I'll keep you apprised." He addressed his cohorts, "Let's go." McCarthy tugged on Ray's arm.
"Take my keys, Frase," Ray's voice wavered as he cast his eyes towards his pants pocket. Fraser stepped forward and retrieved the keys. Their eyes met again and Fraser saw fear flash across Ray's face as he was being pulled sideways out of the room.
"I'll get you out first thing tomorrow," Fraser said reassuringly. Ray nodded quickly as he was almost dragged from Welsh's office.
Fraser stood quietly, hands clasped behind his back, eyes cast to the floor. It took him a few minutes to compose himself.
"No, Leftenant, please allow me to speak. I'm sure you're aware that Ray is not capable of committing this crime, or any crime. I..........." His emotional state forced him to stop talking.
"Constable, you must know I agree with you. You take as much time as you need to get Ray outta this mess. I'll talk to Inspector Thatcher. Whatever you need, you ask me. You'll have the full resources of this precinct. Now, it's too late to post bail tonight, but I'll make sure Ray is arraigned first thing in the morning so you can get him out. I'll call my buddy at the PBA, and get him over there tonight to talk to Ray. I'll make sure he tells him he'll be gettin' out tomorrow."
"Thank you, Leftenant. Can you also have your friend inform Ray that I'm checking out a lead this evening, and that I hope to have some information for him in the morning."
"You need any help on that?" Welsh asked.
"Yes, Sir. I would like you to please call Stateville and advise them that you're sending me as your representative to investigate Steven Kowalski's escape. I'll need a prison wide pass in order to conduct a thorough investigation."
"You know what you're doing, Constable?" Welsh asked, his eyes squinting.
Welsh observed Fraser for a few moments. "All right, Constable. I'll make the call. But, you be careful."
"I will, Leftenant, thank you." Fraser exited the office as Welsh picked up the phone.
Fraser drove Ray's GTO to the Consulate to change into street clothes. Turnbull was gone for the day, but had left a lengthy note about Inspector Thatcher taped to his office door. Fraser ripped the note from the door and tossed it onto his desk without reading it. Turnbull had also left a note stating he had walked and fed Diefenbaker, for which Fraser was grateful.
As he drove to Stateville, Fraser thought about the expression on Ray's face as he was being cuffed. He had wanted to speak to Ray, but circumstances didn't allow it. He attempted to silently convey to his partner that he was not alone in this, that Fraser would be there for him. Viewing Ray's subsequent expression, he felt he had succeeded. After all, they were partners, and partners didn't need words to communicate.
When Fraser arrived at the prison, the guards at the front gate were waiting for him. He was shown where to park the car and which entrance to use. Upon entering, he was given a security pass, along with an evidence report of the escape, and a layout of the building with the laundry area and Steve Kowalski's cell highlighted. "Just make sure you stop and check in with the guards at every station," he was told.
"Understood," Fraser replied, but he had his own agenda.
After checking Steve's cell and the laundry area finding nothing as he had suspected, he furtively made his way to Dr. Hayward's office. The outer office was open, however, the doctor's door was locked. Fraser hoped the information he was seeking would be located on the secretary's desk. It didn't take him long to find it. As he scanned the room for a copy machine, his eyes fell on a food tray sitting on a file cabinet directly outside the doctor's office. Apparently, Dr. Hayward had eaten dinner at his desk and left the tray in the outer office for the cleaning crew. After Fraser made his copy, he scrutinized the tray and helped himself.
It took about forty minutes for him to complete his investigation, and it had proved to be successful. As he signed out one of the guards asked, "So, ya' find anything useful?"
"Perhaps," Fraser responded with a sly smile as he handed the guard his security pass.
As Fraser drove away from the prison, he looked at his watch. Good. It wasn't too late to visit Ray's landlady. He stepped on the accelerator and headed in the direction of Ray's apartment.
Fraser sat in the back of the courtroom waiting for Ray's arraignment to begin. He had slept fitfully the night before as he visualized Ray spending the night in jail. As he waited, he again pictured Ray's face, this time as he was being led from Lieutenant Welsh's office in handcuffs. He had noticed the flash of fear in Ray's eyes. He closed his eyes trying to shake the image from his mind. Just then the clerk called the court to order.
Fraser watched as Ray was brought into the courtroom. Still wearing jeans and a t-shirt, his hands were cuffed in front of him, his face drawn and expressionless. He hadn't noticed Fraser sitting in the rear of the room.
The prosecutor had presented the evidence against Ray in a compelling and flamboyant manner, requesting no bail from the judge. Fraser feared the judge would comply since the evidence, although planted to implicate Ray, was strong. But Lieutenant Welsh's friend from the PBA was an experienced police defense attorney, and succeeded in securing Ray bail of $100,000, with a ten percent option......which meant Fraser had to come up with $10,000 cash. Fortunately, he had lived modestly and saved wisely. He quickly rose from his chair to make the arrangements.
As Ray turned to leave, he noticed Fraser exiting the courtroom. Just knowing he had been there made all the difference in Ray's emotional state.
After posting bail, Fraser waited for Ray in the lobby of the holding center. When Ray emerged through the doorway, Fraser quickly approached him and took his arm, clutching it tightly.
"Are you all right?" He asked quietly, taking note of the dark circles under Ray's eyes.
"Yeah, Frase, I'm good," Ray smiled sadly. "Thanks for bailing me out."
"No, Ray, don't thank me," he said gripping his arm as he led him to the GTO. "We're going to your apartment. I have a lot to tell you."
The ride to Ray's building took about forty-five minutes. Ray had found it impossible to keep his eyes open and fell asleep about five minutes into the ride. Fraser had hated to wake him when they arrived as he was sleeping so soundly.
As they entered the apartment, Ray immediately stopped in his tracks and slowly turned around in a complete circle.
"Uh, Frase? Since when do IA creeps leave a place neater than it was before they got there?" he asked suspiciously.
"Ray, I couldn't have you come home to the mess they left. It didn't take long to straighten up. Besides, I found seven dollars and sixty-three cents for my efforts."
"Hey, just cuz you found that money doesn't mean it's yers........it's my apartment."
"Too late, Ray, I already spent it on bagels and cream cheese for breakfast." Fraser pointed to the kitchen table which was set for two, a bag of bagels sitting in the center.
"Hey, thanks, Frase. I'm starvin'." He paused. "But I really need a shower first." He removed his jacket, dropping it onto the couch as he approached the small hallway leading to the bathroom. "Ya' know, Frase," he shot over his shoulder, "any leftover change is mine."
Fraser and Ray sat over their breakfast of coffee, tea and bagels. As Ray sliced his raisin bagel, he glanced across the table. "So I guess I'm in deep shit, huh, Frase?"
"Not necessarily, Ray," Fraser responded with optimism.
Ray put down the knife and stared at Fraser, eyes wide. "What?"
Fraser explained. "I went to Stateville last evening, Ray. Lieutenant Welsh arranged a security pass for me to investigate Steve's escape. I found some very interesting evidence against Dr. Hayward."
Ray almost choked. "What, Fraser? Dr. Hayward? Are you kidding?"
"No, Ray." He rose and picked up a manila file folder that was lying on the kitchen counter. "Look at this." He removed the xerox copy he had made at the prison the night before as he sat down next to Ray.
"What is this?" Ray asked, as Fraser handed it to him.
"It's Dr. Hayward's appointment schedule for the day Steve escaped. Lieutenant Harrison said that the laundry truck departed with Steve at 7AM. According to this patient schedule, he was supposed to be in extended session with Dr. Hayward from seven to nine that morning." Fraser retrieved another piece of paper from the folder. "But according to this report detailing the events of the escape, Hayward didn't announce that Steve was missing until nine o'clock. Why did he wait two hours to report him?"
Ray opened his mouth to speak, but Fraser kept talking. "Wait, Ray, there's more. There was a dinner tray sitting outside Hayward's office on which I found a butter knife with a distinct thumb print on the handle. I brought it to the lab this morning, and asked them to call your cell phone when they have an ID."
"What if he's not in the system?" Ray asked, rubbing his tired eyes.
"The fact that he works for the Corrections Department means he has to be in the system, but it's my belief that his prints will appear for another reason."
A thought occurred to Ray. "Hey, Fraser, I can't believe ya' stole that knife. That's very un-Mountie like behavior."
"Well, I didn't exactly steal it, Ray. Let's say I appropriated it."
"Ya' stole it."
Ray frowned. "Yeah, but Fraser, even if we do get something from this, we can't use it cuz you didn't have a warrant. The same goes for Hayward's appointment schedule," Ray grumbled.
"Well, Ray, we never would've been able to obtain a warrant based merely on my suspicions, so the only way I could gather this evidence was to do it covertly. In any case, I believe we will secure even more compelling evidence later, so we won't have to rely on this information, which we can't use anyway as you've pointed out."
"What evidence is that?"
"I believe Dr. Hayward will eventually lead us to Steve, and I'm fairly confident it will be sooner rather than later. All we have to do is tail him."
Ray's cell phone rang. Fraser retrieved it from the kitchen counter and answered it. As he listened to the person on the other end, he wrote a few notes.
"Yes, I would appreciate it if you kept this between us. Thank you kindly, Marie." He hung up the phone and faced Ray.
"That was Marie in forensics. She ran the fingerprints on the knife and did some digging for me." Fraser referred to his notes. "It appears that Dr. John Hayward's real name is Dr. John Graham, also a psychiatrist, from Detroit, Michigan. Twenty years ago he served two years of a six year sentence for embezzlement, when he escaped in much the same manner as Steve had. He had stolen $75,000 from the hospital where he was employed before he was found out. Most of that money has been recovered."
"Yeah, but when he got the job at Stateville, they woulda found all that out from his prints," Ray argued.
"Apparently, there actually was a psychiatrist named John Hayward who died nineteen years ago. Graham managed to assume his identity and utilize his fingerprints for his employment."
"He's one slick, lowlife scumbag," Ray said quietly, shaking his head in disgust. He tilted his head to one side. "Hey, Fraser, what made you suspect Hayward in the first place?" He frowned. "And why would he help Steve escape?"
Fraser sighed deeply. "Remember yesterday when you were talking about how Steve had fooled you again?
Ray nodded slowly as took a sip of his coffee.
Fraser continued his explanation. "The fact was, however, that he hadn't fooled you....or me for that matter. You admitted that you had your suspicions about him, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, so you kept your concerns to yourself."
"Well, Ray, why is it he didn't fool us but managed to totally delude Dr. Hayward? It doesn't make sense unless Hayward is a miserably incompetent doctor, which I don't believe he is. Unfortunately, he used Steve's lifelong resentment towards you to his advantage to effect some sort of plan. I don't know what that plan is yet, but he needed Steve to accomplish something on the outside, so he used his professional prowess to manipulate him. Instead of treating Steve, he recruited him by inflaming his hatred of you. So Steve's motive in all of this was revenge against you, as he knew you'd ultimately be charged as an accessory to his escape. Sadly, he was never rehabilitated and probably hates you more now because of Hayward's machinations."
"Wait a minute, Fraser. So yer saying Hayward made Steve hate me so much that he pretended to make peace with me so I'd get blamed for his escape?" Ray was incredulous.
"I'm afraid so, Ray."
Ray dropped his head into his hands. "That son-of-a-bitch quack, Hayward. I can't believe this, Fraser. Because of that Dr. Frankenstein, Steve'll probably never get better." He shook his head.
"I suspect Hayward caused a great deal of damage, but hopefully it's not irreparable, and a dedicated doctor can eventually reach Steve."
"What about the evidence that IA found in my apartment?" Ray asked with questioning eyes.
"I spoke to your landlady last night, Ray. You told me she notices everything that goes on in this building. She said she saw a man fitting Hayward's description leaving around 9:15 the night you were at the Consulate. He planted the laundry delivery schedule and placed the phone call to the regular truck driver. Did you ever tell Steve about your social plans?"
"Yeah, all the time. He always asked and I was glad to tell him cuz I didn't have anything else to say."
"So he knew you planned to spend most of that evening at the Consulate, and as a result, so did Hayward."
"So, what now......we tail the witch doctor?" Ray asked.
"Yes, Ray. We can situate ourselves outside the prison. I saw an excellent location while I was there last night. I'm sure Hayward will be connecting with Steve shortly. Shall we retrieve Dief from the Consulate first?" Fraser removed his leather jacket from the hook as he opened the door.
Ray grabbed his cell phone, jacket and keys and approached the door when he stopped in his tracks. "Fraser, I don't have a gun," he said, seemingly lost.
"We have our wits, Ray," Fraser replied as he disappeared into the hall.
"Oh, jeez," Ray whined as he followed after Fraser.
Fraser, Ray and Diefenbaker sat in the GTO outside Stateville Correctional Center for the better part of the day. They had seen visitors coming and going, but there was no sign of Dr. Hayward.
"I had hoped he would leave at some point during the day," Fraser said, "but apparently, he's spending the entire day inside."
Ray looked at his watch. "Well, Frase, it's six o'clock, he should be comin' out soon." He yawned. "Man, I'm tired. I hope somethin' happens tonight so we can get this over with."
As Ray spoke, Fraser suddenly bolted to attention. "There!" he said pointing to a dark green Buick exiting the employee parking lot. Both men slumped down in their seats as the car passed the GTO. Ray quickly sat up, started the car and U-turned, taking off after Dr. Harrison.
They followed the car for about thirty miles into a middle class neighborhood with older, one story houses. The most inconspicuous location they could find to park the GTO was down the street under a large oak tree.
"We could spend all night here, Frase," Ray complained. "I'm hungry."
"I'm sorry, Ray, but it wouldn't be wise to leave at this point," Fraser said as he kept his eyes on the house Hayward had entered.
"Yeah, whatever, Fraser." Ray turned and looked at Diefenbaker, fast asleep in the back seat. "Dogs, they got the life." He regarded Fraser who was intent on watching Hayward's house. "Look, Frase, I'm takin' a nap. If I don't get some sleep, I'm gonna be good for nothin."
"Fine, Ray. I'll wake you if anything happens."
Ray slouched down in his seat and rested his head against the car window. It took him about thirty seconds to fall asleep.
"Whaa......?" Ray sprang up in his seat. "What's goin' on?"
"There, Ray." Fraser pointed to the Buick as it drove down the street in the opposite direction.
"Oh, shit!" Ray shook himself awake, started the car, and followed the green car.
They tailed Dr. Hayward across town to the waterfront district. "I don't think he's got reservations for dinner down here, Frase." Ray said as he maintained a safe distance from the Buick.
"He's pulling into that parking lot. Park here, Ray." Ray complied as Fraser watched Hayward park his car and enter a large building. It appeared to be an old abandoned factory.
"Shall we?" They both got out of the car, Fraser pulling the seat forward for Diefenbaker. "Dief."
"Fraser, he's sleepin'.......he's a sleepin', deaf wolf......he can't hear you," Ray chided as he reached inside the car and nudged the sleeping wolf. Dief sprang up.
"He wakes up much the same way you do, Ray," Fraser observed.
"Cute, Frase. Come on."
They cautiously approached the building Hayward had entered. Ray went in one direction, Fraser and Dief in another. As they separated, Fraser cautioned his partner, "Be careful, Ray, don't forget you don't have a gun."
"Oh, thanks for reminding me, Frase," he responded sarcastically.
As Ray approached the back of the building, he noticed another door behind a large dumpster. Quickly running towards the door in a crouched position, he tried the door knob, discovering it was unlocked. He cautiously entered the building, quietly closing the door behind him, finding himself in a cavernous, warehouse type room, dimly lit, with large cardboard boxes and garbage scattered about the floor. He heard someone speaking and carefully crept ahead to investigate, keeping his head down. He saw Hayward pacing in front of a desk talking on a cell phone. Then he heard his name spoken from behind.
Fraser and Diefenbaker were on the other side of the building, the same side Dr. Hayward had entered. Fraser didn't see any other doors on this side, but there were some open windows a few hundred feet from the door Hayward used. Fortunately, there was a dumpster underneath one of the windows. Diefenbaker couldn't balance on the narrow edges of the dumpster, so Fraser motioned for him to wait on the ground. He climbed to the top of the dumpster and peered into the window, seeing nothing. He quietly crawled through the window and jumped to the floor inside the building, landing in a crouched position trying not to make any noise. As he stood upright, Dr. Hayward suddenly appeared in front of him pointing a gun in his direction.
"Hello, Constable Fraser, why don't you join us." He gestured with his gun for Fraser to walk ahead of him and around a corner. As Fraser rounded the corner in the large room, he was startled to find Steve and Ray standing a few feet apart, eyes trained on each other, Steve aiming a gun at Ray.
"Now isn't this fun," Hayward said as he motioned Fraser over towards Ray. As he approached Ray, Fraser studied Steve's face, noting the hatred in his eyes as he aimed his gun at his brother.
"Steve, you should know what this so called doctor did to you before you do anything you'll regret," Fraser warned.
"Shut up!" Hayward barked.
"What are your intentions, Doctor......Graham, is it?" Fraser asked, his voice low.
Hayward looked at Fraser shocked that he knew his real name, but quickly recovered. "Well, Constable, I'll show you mine if you show me yours," he sneered. "You'll be dead soon anyway, so it really doesn't matter what I tell you."
"Yer gonna kill two cops?" Ray snapped.
"You give me no choice, Detective. I refuse to go back to prison, and the only way to accomplish that is to kill you both. In my experience, I've found that cops usually arrest you after you've held them at gunpoint," he snickered.
"You won't get away with killin' two cops," Ray barked.
"Correction, Detective, your brother will have the pleasure of killing you himself." He turned to Steve, "And I assure you, Steve, you will get away with it."
Ray watched his brother, who was staring at him through narrowed eyes, gun trained on his head.
"So, Constable, you're very clever," Hayward said.
"Apparently not clever enough," Fraser replied. "What do you hope to gain by all this?"
"What I hope to gain is what every American slaves for their entire miserable lives and never gets, the almighty dollar, but in my case, we're talking a myriad of dollars. I'm tired of working in that stinking prison, treating mental degenerates who belong in nut college."
"He's talkin' about you, Steve," Ray said to his brother.
"Shut up, Detective. Steve knows he's not like my other patients, he's my partner," he assured Steve. "He and I are planning the ultimate robbery.....it'll make us very rich men. I've told you enough. Now, Constable, it's your turn to show me yours, so to speak. How did you know?"
"It didn't make sense, Doctor, that you were assuring Ray that his brother had been emotionally rehabilitated when it was obvious he was still hostile and angry. And if it was so apparent to Ray and myself that Steve was extremely troubled, why wouldn't his doctor notice it?"
"I ain't troubled," Steve bellowed.
At that moment, Diefenbaker bounded into the room and tackled Dr. Hayward from behind, knocking him to the floor. The gun flew out of his hand and landed behind him, too far for Fraser to safely attempt to retrieve it. Diefenbaker growled viciously at the doctor, hovering over him, not allowing him to move. Confident that the wolf had things under control, Fraser and Ray turned their attention to Steve, who continued to aim his gun at Ray.
"Steve, listen to me," Ray appealed to his brother. "Dr. Hayward didn't try ta help you. He used you."
"Yer lyin'!" Steve screamed. "He's helpin' me."
Ray remained calm. "No, Steve. He knew ya hated me since we were kids and he used that against you to help feed his slimeball greed."
Steve furiously shook his head.
"Steve, please. There's no reason for you ta hate me. I haven't done anything to you. I just wanna help you." He paused. "You told me a few days ago that ya' loved me. You said you can say it now. I can say it, too......I always could say it. I love ya', Steve, yer my brother. Please, we can work this out. Put the gun down." Ray's calm facade belied his fear.
Fraser stood his ground, knowing that Ray was the only person who could convince Steve to lower his gun. Steve began to waver. He gazed at Ray, his eyes welling with tears. "He told me everything bad that happened to me was yer fault. But.....you were just a kid......you didn't know.......you couldnt......." Steve's voice trailed off.
Ray held out his hand. "Gimme the gun, Steve. You don't wanna do this. Don't let him ruin yer life." He slowly approached his brother, his hand extended.
Steve began to tremble as he fought back the tears. His arm dropped to his side. Ray stepped in front of him and took the gun from his hand. Falling to his knees, Steve sobbed, "I'm sorry, Ray. I'm sorry. I couldn't help what I was doin'." Ray kept his eyes on his brother as he held the gun out for Fraser, who quicky retrieved it and turned his attention to Diefenbaker and Dr. Hayward. Ray knelt down, placed his arm around his brother's shoulders and helped him to his feet.
"Frase." Fraser turned to find Ray tossing him his cell phone, which he promptly used to call for backup.
Ray sat behind his desk at the 27th precinct eyeing Fraser, who sat across from him in his usual chair. "I'm warnin' ya, Fraser, spit it out......what does the Ice Queen call me?"
"Ray, you continue to ask me that question, and I've told you........"
Ray's phone rang. "If this is Thatcher, Frase, I'm gonna ask her if she's got a monitor for me."
"That's moniker, Ray, and I don't believe you will," Fraser called Ray's bluff.
Ray winked as he picked up the receiver. "Vecchio." Ray sat forward in his chair, his conduct quickly changing from playful to earnest as he listened intently to the person on the other end.
"That's great, great. Yeah, sounds good, thanks......bye." He smiled at his partner.
"That was Dr. Bradbury at Stateville. Steve's doin' pretty good. I'm gonna visit him in a few days."
"That's wonderful, Ray." Fraser was sincere.
It had been three months since the incident in the abandoned factory. Dr. Hayward had been found guilty of accessory to felony escape and confinement against one's will, and had been extradited to Detroit to finish out his original sentence, in addition to time added for his escape. After serving that sentence, he would be transferred to the Illinois Corrections Department, where he would serve time for his crimes committed in that state. All told, John Hayward would be incarcerated for a very long time. He had never disclosed the details of his 'ultimate robbery' scheme, the one that was going to make him a rich man. However, he confessed that he hadn't yet revealed the details to Steve.
Both Ray and Lieutenant Welsh spoke to the District Attorney on Steve's behalf. When it was revealed how Hayward had used his professional position to manipulate Steve, the DA had agreed not to press additional charges under the stipulation that he receive intense psychological therapy while incarcerated. That condition was carried out, and Ray had just received a phone call from Steve's doctor delivering an excellent status report on his progress. Of course he had a long road ahead of him, but the doctor stated that he was responding well to therapy. Ray had gone to see his brother on several occasions, noticing the change in him, and the doctor told him he could visit more often assuming he felt comfortable with it......which he did.
"So, Frase, ya' ready to tell me?" Ray was relentless.
Fraser sighed. "Ray, I've told you that Inspector Thatcher holds you in the highest regard.....she considers you a very capable police officer." Fraser smiled stiffly, hoping this might shut Ray up.
"Stop trying to suck up ta me, Frase. Ya' told me she feels that way most of the time.....what about the rest of the time? Now, spill." Ray wasn't giving up.
Fraser thought he would try another approach. "Okay, Ray, what if.....what if Leftenant Welsh had a nickname for me, a name some might consider to be unflattering. I'm sure you wouldn't reveal that information to me," Fraser rationalized.
Ray glanced over to Welsh's office squinting his eyes, seeming to contemplate what Fraser had just said. He turned back to his partner. "Ya', know, Frase, yer right. I'm pretty sure Lieu doesn't want me to tell.....I mean, wouldn't want me ta tell you what he calls ya', I mean, if he did call ya' somethin'." He paused. "Wanna get a coffee?" Ray rose from his chair.
"Wait.....wait a minute, Ray. What are you saying?" Fraser asked, worried.
"Whaddya mean, Fraser?
"You more or less just implied that Leftenant Welsh has some type of nickname for me, and a less than complimentary one at that." Fraser rubbed his eyebrow with his thumbnail.
"Don't know what yer talkin' about, Frase. Didn't do nothin' like that."
"You did, Ray."
"Yes, you did, Ray. And I'd like you tell me what the Leftenant calls me."
"Wouldn't be chivalrous, Frase."
"Well, that's just silly, Ray."
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