Rating: PG for bad words and m/m implications
Spoilers: Minor, mainly Victoria's Secret.
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately no money is being made.
Feedback: Yes please email@example.com
Notes: Many thanks to Gezebel for her incredibly patient betaing and her kind comments amongst all the */period inside quote/* . If it were not for her all the characters would be chronically out of breath and perhaps even have expired some time in the first scene. All mistakes are mine, I know there are some POV issues and for this I apologize but it's late and I'm tired.
For all those who sent feedback after 'Go to sleep Ray', well this would never have been written were it not for such a fantastic response. Please feel free to do it again. Actually I'm begging please do it again. It puts a big grin on my face and makes me want to get out of bed in the morning to read it.
Fraser only had to walk in to the squad room to feel the tension.
He looked towards Ray's desk and was not entirely surprised to see the
source of the tension was from the small group of people crowded into
the small area.
The individuals who made up the group confirmed in Fraser's mind
that this was not a meeting that was going to make his day any easier.
Any conversation that included Tom Dewey, Stella Kowalski and
Francesca Vecchio was almost bound to if not end in total disaster, then
certainly in Ray either exploding and hitting something (or someone)
or becoming silent and morose for the rest of the day. Fraser did not
really enjoy dealing with either outcome.
He edged towards the desk, and got the morning's first glimpse
of Ray. His heart sank. One look confirmed that the conversation was
going along fairly predictable lines. Ray was looking defensive and was
(rather unusually) sitting down. It seemed he had decided to go for the
'sullen but seething' approach while apparently arguing some point with
Tom Dewey looked as pleased as punch with himself, a look that
Fraser recognized as frequently being present when he was having some
success in baiting Ray, and Francesca was talking about something or
other which Fraser assumed to be exacerbating the situation. It usually was. Fraser took deep breath and reluctantly
began to walk over to group in order make some kind of attempt to diffuse
the rising tension before it got out of hand.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Welsh, who had obviously
been aware of the potential meltdown from his office and had stood up
to sort it out, sit himself down again at Fraser's approach. Obviously
trusting him to prevent it from getting too heated. He sighed to himself,
supposing it was probably too much to ever expect Ray to learn to stop
reacting to aggravation in such a physical and explosive manner. If he
ever did learn to just walk away, Fraser's would be the first life to
"Ray, you're terrified a small puddle for Gods sake, and now you're telling me you've learned to swim. Get real," came Stella's voice, which was managing to convey absolute disbelief, irritation and disdain all at once. Ray seemed to shrink further back in to his seat but Fraser was relieved and somewhat impressed to see he hadn't given up in the face of his ex-wife just yet; his next words equaled hers in both bitterness and tone.
"Stella, this hasn't even got anything to do with you. The
gala is for people in this precinct which last time I checked you were
not so why don't you just go and release a mass murderer or something
and butt out. Maybe I just didn't want to swim with you. Ever think of
Francesca moved herself around to be beside Ray, in a well meant
but somewhat misguided attempt to be supportive. Fraser cringed at her
next words and hoped that Francesca's pop psychology phase would end
soon or at least before serious damage was done. For someone trying to
be helpful, her words could not have been more ill chosen.
"You know Ray, lots of people of phobias about things which
are often developed by traumatic events in childhood and which can seriously
inhibit peoples lives. I know of a very good self help group which helps
me with my fear of cheap skin care products. We all support and help
each other by talking about and exploring our deepest fears, sometimes
ending up with a good cry at the end".
She confirmed this by attempting to hold his hand. At this he did stand up, pushing his chair back with characteristic force. He shoved Francesca's hand away, glaring at Stella as he did so. He almost spat out the words,
"Francesca that may be great advice for people who have
phobias but seeing as I am not in any way scared of water, you too can
butt out and go and give your advice and support to someone who actually
wants it. Like Diefenbaker."
Ray continued the tirade but now turned to face Stella although
still addressing his words to Francesca.
"I do not need a self help group for a phobia that doesn't
exist. I think if I had had a traumatic event I would at the very least
remember it and if you want to go and group hug with a bunch of strangers
then that is something you're gonna have to do all by yourself. And for
just for the record, I do know how to swim."
Suddenly for the first time noticing Fraser's approach he blurted
"Ask Fraser, he'll tell you."
"So are you going to try and tell me that you have actually
personally witnessed Ray in the water?"
"Yes Ms Kowalski I have in fact seen Ray in the water on several occasions."
Ray smiled for the first time, a combination of relief and triumph obvious on his face.
"See. I told you,"said Ray before the conversation
had a chance to go any further,
"and Mounties never lie, so you can just go and get out
of here so we can get some police work done. After all this is a police
Ray then sat down and started frantically shuffling some papers,
clearly indicating the conversation was now over. Stella began to turn
away but appeared to have a last thought on the subject and looked at
"So you are telling me on your word of honor that Ray can
swim?" Ray held his breath
for a moment and then grinned widely in as Fraser nodded "I assure you Ms Kowalski that Ray is perfectly capable
Unfortunately Ray's relief was short lived as Fraser continued,
"I am sure Ray will be willing to put this matter to rest
by demonstrating his skills in any suitable forum, in order to convince
you that you are quite wrong in the belief that he is incapable of swimming".
Tom Dewey immediately picked up a pencil from Ray's desk and
made a big display of scribbling on the papers he was holding.
"So I'll put you down for the relay team then Ray, two weeks
from now, we'll be waiting with eager anticipation".
"As will I" said Stella under her breath, before giving
Fraser one last disdainful look and walking off out of the squad room.
Tom moved off, clearly having decided that he wasn't going to get any more fun out of Ray now that Fraser was here to keep the peace. Francesca was abruptly called away by a thundering bellow originating from Welsh's office, leaving Fraser and Ray alone.
Fraser watched Ray in silence, not really sure of what to say.
He still appeared visibly agitated, pointedly ignoring Fraser and slamming
the piles of junk around on his desk. After a few moments he appeared
to come to a decision and stalked off down the corridor.
"C'mon Fraser", he shot over his shoulder, leaving
Fraser and Diefenbaker to practically run after him.
Fraser found himself following Ray to the parking lot at almost
running pace. As soon as they reached the GTO he was confronted by an
extremely angry Ray.
Ray paced around the car with every resemblance to an animal
about to attack, eventually turning to Fraser to shout,
"What the hell did you do that for, you coulda just left
it after the 'I can swim' part.
For the first time I thought you were actually going to tell
a lie to help me and what do you do? You ruin it and get me deeper into
shit than I already am. That is definitely not buddies Fraser".
"Well, I didn't exactly lie Ray. Barring any significant
disabilities on your behalf you are, as are all humans, capable of swimming.
It is a skill that you simply haven't entirely conquered yet and it would
seem a fairly simple solution that you should learn to swim in the next
two weeks, thus proving that you can."
This stopped Ray, who turned to Fraser with a look of horror
clearly painted on his face.
"Fraser, you who have the word for all occasions seem to
have misunderstood the word can't.
Let me explain. Can't as in can not, as in drowning, as in sinking, as in cough, splutter, can't breathe, drowned and DEAD".
During this tirade Ray had walked around the GTO, up to Fraser
and was eventually shouting in his face but as he finished he seemed
to be surprised at himself and took a step back away from Fraser.
Looking deflated and speaking much more quietly, Fraser almost
had to strain to hear him.
"I thought that just for once you were gonna lie for me
and you were going to help me".
Fraser felt oddly disappointed in himself as Ray stepped back, turned around and went to unlock the car and get in. Fraser settled himself in the passenger seat and looked to Ray who had still not started the engine.
"I didn't lie exactly, more misled. I have seen you in water,
I've even seen you swimming albeit in a somewhat unorthodox manner. I
just didn't mention how much you disliked it, after all he distance you
swam when we left the Henry Allen was not insignificant. You can swim
Ray, you just could learn to swim better."
At this, a small smile appeared on Ray's face as he muttered
something under his breath about Mountie type of lies.
"And furthermore," continued Fraser
"I have every intention of helping you. I thought I could
teach you to learn to swim this next couple of weeks and by the time
of the race you should be more than capable of swimming in it."
Ray sighed and turned to face Fraser.
"Fraser me and swimming just don't mix. There's a time to
learn to do it and that time is when you're a kid, not when you are an
adult. If you don't get it at the right time you just can't do it.
Anyway, there's no way I'm going to a pool where five year olds
are swimming better than I am and everybody's laughing at me. That's
"Well Ray, I know for a fact that on the first point you
are wrong. I only learned to swim when I was 27 and stationed in Moose
Jaw for a short period of time".
At this Ray's head suddenly popped up showing interest and amusement,
"There was really something you couldn't do?"
"Yes Ray, like anyone else there are many things I can't
do. There wasn't much call for swimming in Tuktoyaktak and the nearest
swimming pool was three days away by dog sled. So it wasn't exactly a
crucial skill if you can imagine. Besides if you had fallen in any lakes
or rivers the cold would kill you just as fast as drowning. If you were
going to die it really seemed quite inconsequential as to whether it
was cold or drowning which resulted in your death."
Fraser noticed that Rays sudden interest had again sagged and
he was now looking down at his hands again with the same despondency
that had been present a minute before. He considered his words carefully,
mindful of Ray's tendency to shout when feeling unhappy.
"Unless, of course there is some other reason why you can't
swim, such as for instance being scared of swimming, or to be exact scared
the water and lack of swimming."
"I told you, I'm not scared of the water Fraser", was
Ray's reply although with the uncertain tone of voice Fraser didn't believe
him any more than Stella had, but he decided not to press the subject.
"Understood. In that case I will phone a friend of mine,
the physiotherapist who assisted my rehabilitation after I was injured,
and ask if it could be arranged that we use the pool at the hospital.
That will give us some privacy. I can buy some swimming aids this afternoon
and maybe we can swim there this evening after work."
Rays answer was simply a defeated nod. He put the key in the ignition, ready to go and get lunch. Fraser wondered what the chances were of the hospital pool being available and whether Ray would consider it's being available good news or not. By the look on Ray's face he guessed not.
It was no surprise to Ray that the afternoon passed faster it
seemed than any other in his life so far, Dewey was still attempting
to rile Ray at any opportunity he got by talking loudly about the upcoming
swimming gala and broadcasting the fact that in his opinion Ray couldn't
swim around the squad room. Fortunately, other than a few half hearted
insulting retorts, Ray was so involved in dreading work finishing that
the baiting had nowhere near its normal impact.
Too soon after 5.00pm Fraser entered the squad room with a large
package under his arm.
"Put that away," hissed Ray, grabbing the package and
hiding it under his desk. "Someone might see."
He glanced surreptitiously at Dewey and was relieved to see he didn't appear to have noticed Fraser's arrival nor the package he was carrying.
"Good news Ray" said Fraser in a voice way too chirpy
for Ray's mood,
"The swimming pool is available this evening and every evening
for the next week. As you have already noticed I have taken the liberty
of purchasing some swimming aids for you and a swimsuit and towel for
myself. I thought we could go by your place and pick up your swimming
gear. Jill said to be there by about 6.00 and we can have the pool to
ourselves until 8.00 when they lock up."
Fraser noticed Ray raise his eyes upwards in what looked like an unspoken prayer for some kind of intervention from of God. The prayer was apparently unanswered and he began shrugging into his jacket.
"That's great Frase, just greatness. Lets go." he said
as the two of them exited the building.
Fraser pretended not to notice Ray's unusual silence on the way
to his apartment. He filled in the quiet with telling him all about his
day, which involved looking over immigration applications, verifying
statements and amending this years information guides for Canadian visitors
He enjoyed the space he was being given to talk in the face of
Rays's lack of reaction; in normal circumstances Ray would have told
him to shut up twenty seconds into the dialogue.
However as they neared Ray appeared to become more talkative,
"Wanna come in and grab a bite to eat before we go Frase?"
he inquired with a deceptively light tone to his voice.
"Well no Ray, it is generally considered inadvisable to
swim on a full stomach. Besides we don't have that much time to waste.
With the traffic at this time of evening it may take additional time
to get to the pool."
There was a small pause as Ray considered his options again.
"It may take a while to find something to swim in anyways, seeing
as I'm not exactly a regular swimmer," he continued .
"Oh, well then, it is just as well that I anticipated that
possibility and purchased a spare pair of swim shorts in your size," replied Fraser, quickly turning to
look out of the window in order to hide the small smile that was threatening
to escape his mouth. He immediately felt guilty at being amused by Ray's
very obvious delaying tactics but even the guilt didn't quite remove
In a surprisingly short amount of time Ray was back with a sports
bag in hand. Fetching his towel and clean clothes appeared to have given
Ray time to accept where they were going and almost as soon as he was
back in the car Fraser started to recognize Ray's familiar signs of anxiety.
Deep but uneven breathing, fingers not sure if they wanted to
tap on the steering wheel or smooth his hair and shifting in his seat
which Bob Fraser would no doubt have accused a person of having 'ants
in their pants'.
As they pulled off and settled in to the traffic Ray began his
first real conversation of the afternoon.
"What does...how will....what exactly do I have to do to
swim Fraser?. You know, in the water that is. I mean, how do you start?"
Fraser considered this for a moment.
"Well I'm sure there are many different ways to learn. I
am not sure what the currently recommended method is but for myself I
found the quickest way was to start off was by swimming underwater in
deep water and getting the feeling of buoyancy. It is then a reasonably
simple step to learn to come to the top."
This was met with dead silence. Fraser mentally prepared himself
for the impending verbal barrage and steeled himself for the anticipated
onslaught. He was not disappointed.
"Fraser that is unhinged. Moronic in fact. No. Actually
I sometimes wonder if being born in an igloo did something to your brain
which makes you unable to sometimes get the most basic of concepts, unless
they are completely useless in which case you get them just fine. There is this thing about swimming,
which you seem to have missed. The point is not to drown; I can already
do that all by myself. I am not going underwater. I want to be able to
breathe while I'm doing it. That is the point, not just to take even
longer drowning but actually to have it not happen. I don't want to be
a diver Fraser, just get from A to B over the top of the water and preferably
while I'm still alive."
With that, Ray seemed content to continue with a few quiet mutterings
under his breath. Fraser could only identify a few words, which he felt
he would rather not be hearing anyway. Once Ray appeared to run out of
muttered insults, Fraser felt it safe to speak again.
"It was only a suggestion Ray, I simply related the method
that worked for me. There are several approaches that can be taken towards
swimming and I am sure we will find one that works for you".
Ray nodded grimly, staring straight ahead at the road. Fraser briefly considering whether the possibility of Ray
breaking limbs, getting shot or falling off tall buildings over the next few weeks had just increased dramatically.
Ray didn't like hospitals and he didn't like swimming pools.
The combination of the two made his stomach want to do the Hula in double
time. He supposed it could have been worse. If dead guys could swim it
could have been a swimming pool in a mortuary within a hospital. The
thought vaguely amused him and brought a wry grin to his face.
As he entered the small changing room he was assailed with sensory
memories. Chlorine, excessive heat, humidity and an odd sort of echo
which only ever seemed to be present around large bodies of water. The
sound of it reminded him of the adventure on the Henry Allen and immediately
the Hula in his stomach seemed to find a partner of an alternative rhythm.
He broke out in a sweat which he was not altogether convinced
was caused only by humidity. One
look at Fraser made him pull himself together. If Fraser was calm then
so was he. In meticulous Fraser style the Mountie was removing articles
of clothing, folding each carefully, and placing them in the locker in
reverse order. Ray watched the procedure and idly wondered if Fraser
though they had locker inspection here.
Ray started to rummage through Fraser's bag and found a suitable size pair of swim shorts in a style of which he approved. He swiftly donned them, not wanting to look as reluctant as he was feeling.
Fraser noticed the sudden surge of enthusiasm and mentally congratulated
Ray on his fortitude. Ray headed
out to the pool before Fraser. It required considerably less time for
him to throw his clothes in a locker than it did for Fraser to fold all
of his individually. Fraser was curious about the fact that Ray had elected
to keep his T-Shirt on but it he was gone before he could ask.
Fraser grabbed the swimming boards he had bought earlier and
followed Ray through to the pool.
It hadn't changed at all since he was here for his rehabilitation.
He was unprepared for the pain that surrounded Victoria's memory that
hit him like an almost physical blow. The frustration, and bitterness
he had felt at the time seemed to have remained in the room, causing
him to consider if it was possible for feelings to haunt a room.
Thoughts of Victoria left him as he saw Ray sitting by the edge
of the shallow end, feet dangling in the water. Maybe he was feeling
sensitive and projecting his own feelings onto Ray, but he thought he
recognized in him some of the emotions he had just revisited. Ray didn't
appear to have noticed Fraser's entry as he stared dejectedly in to the
water. Slightly concerned, Fraser wondered if there was more to Ray's
dislike of water than a mere inability to swim.
Without dwelling on it further he pulled Ray out of his reverie.
"Okay Ray, I would imagine that possibly the first step
would be to get in the water. You should probably take your T-shirt off
as it's rather unnecessary for it to get wet."
Ray stared at him, blinked and started to move. Reluctantly he
stripped off his T-shirt and threw it to the side where his towel lay.
Looking at him almost naked and seeming so vulnerable Fraser was ashamed
of his brief but very strong impulse to touch him. Without his usual
collection of guns, big jackets, boots and handcuffs he seemed smaller
and almost sweet. He watched Ray slip carefully in to the pool, keeping
a grasp on the side with both hands and hearing an audible sigh of relief
when the water only came to his waist.
Fraser put the swimming boards down at the edge and walked around to the deep end in order to execute a perfect dive. He then continued under the water to the shallow end to join Ray. He came up within a few meters of Ray and was taken aback by the loud "No. Stop there." It was so unexpected that he wasn't even sure at first that it came from Ray.
That it came from Ray was instantly confirmed by shouted instructions.
"Get back Fraser. Move back. Further. Now!"
Ironically Fraser could almost hear Ray's voice in his head jibing
*jeez, take a chill pill why don't you* but the petrified look on Ray's
face removed any trace of amusement. Fraser immediately moved back and
waited expectantly for an explanation. None was forthcoming and Ray reacted
quickly to cover up his mistake. He turned around, picked up the swimming
boards off the side and turned back to face Fraser with a big grin that
Fraser didn't believe for a moment.
"Okay Frase. Pitter patter lets get at her, only got two
weeks to do this in. You stay there and tell me what to do and what I'm
doing wrong." The apparent change of mood was so fast that Fraser
had hard time to coming up with an immediate appropriate response.
Instead he fumbled out with uncharacteristic hesitancy
"Um...ah...okay, right. Well I would first suggest holding on with
both hands to the board and seeing if you can kick your legs out behind
you on top of the water and make a splash. You need to aim for a horizontal
body position achieved by straight legs. Your shoulders and chin will
have to be in the water."
Ray obediently bent down in the water and reluctantly put his
shoulders and chin in the water. His displeasure and discomfort obvious
both in his face and the tight way in which he held his body. Again Fraser
mentally cheered Ray on, knowing this was not the easiest thing for him
but also knowing that his praise would not be well received.
A disappointingly brief spurt of splashing followed as Ray tried his best to kick but Fraser could see his legs start to sink again almost as soon as they left the bottom. Undeterred Ray tried again. And again. And again. Some ten minutes later Ray had still not managed to keep his legs off the bottom for more than a few seconds, even with the help of the swimming board and he was growing increasingly frustrated.
"I told you Fraser. I can't do it. There's something about me that just isn't made for swimming. It's stupid anyway, boats were invented so that people don't have to swim, it's the same as keeping your money in your hat when you could have a wallet, or walking when you can drive a car. A stupid unnecessary waste of time aimed at people who have got nothing better to do."
Fraser accepted the intentional personal digs without comment
Ray did this frequently when he was frustrated and he had long
ago ceased taking offense but it did perhaps contribute to the impatience
that was clear in his voice as he spoke.
"Ray don't be ridiculous, of course you can swim. If you
can do it fully clothed in the middle of Lake Michigan in freezing, polluted
water you can certainly do it here in a heated pool where it is very
"Yeah, yeah, yeah Frase. You sound exactly like my Father."
He bean to mimic "Your brother could swim 100 metres at the age
of four Raymond, he was never difficult to teach, we've given you both
exactly the same opportunities, you're just not trying - Just shut up
Fraser, I've heard it all before."
Ray turned away from him, almost as if he had told Fraser something
he regretted. Fraser paused, the bitterness and hurt in Ray's voice softened
him and he regretted the snippy tone he had used. His next attempt was
"I must admit to being curious Ray, why didn't you learn
to swim when you were a child ? It is rather unusual for parents to teach
one child to swim and not bother teaching the next. If it something they
regard as a valuable skill I'm surprised they didn't insist on it".
Rays voice was flat and didn't encourage a response.
"They did insist Fraser, I just refused harder than they
Fraser realized Ray wanted the conversation to be over so he
returned to the problem of a new swimming tactic.
"It does seem apparent that you are finding it difficult
to keep your legs up. Perhaps it would be a better idea if you came to
a deeper part of the water where your feet can't touch the bottom when
they go down. Then you can concentrate first on treading water like you
did in the lake. When you can float we can then work on direction and
Ray looked at Fraser suspiciously.
"And how exactly am I going to do that without drowning
"There are two swimming boards. If you hold them both together
they should easily be enough to hold you afloat to start with. I can
swim right next to you while you practice just kicking and getting the
feel for the water while you hang on to them. If you have any problems
I'll pull you back to the side and you can start again."
Without waiting for confirmation from Ray, Fraser headed off
into the deep end. Ray, holding both boards tightly across his chest
When he reached the point of being out of his depth Ray seemed
to be having trouble being able to continue to his direction to the wall
at the deep end of the pool. Fraser felt there was a least some success
in that he was floating without touching the ground.
Fraser headed back to help him get closer to the wall but Ray
stopped him short with a frantic shake of his head.
"No Fraser. Just stop there. Don't touch me. Move back.
Now. Right back."
Ray had visibly stiffened, his voice urgent and demanding. Confused
by the instant change in demeanor Fraser returned to the side of the
pool and again waited for an explanation. Like before, there was no explanation
but this time Ray's attempt to cover up his discomfort was not nearly
successful. He continued to watch
Fraser carefully, his interest in kicking or swimming appeared to be
lost as he clung to the swimming boards and seemed be concentrating on
regaining some of his earlier calm. After a minute or so he spoke,
"Why don't you get out and give me instructions from the
side. You can probably see better and the water's cold if you're not
doing any thing."
Fraser nodded and immediately climbed out of the pool to sit
on the edge, accepting the excuses as to why he should be out of the
water for what they were. Excuses. He was totally confused, at a loss
to know what to make of Ray's behavior but felt that playing along and
following his lead was the wisest course of action until he had a chance
to consider it further.
Still watching Fraser suspiciously Ray began to kick again. This
time Fraser began to see some real improvement and after a few minutes
his legs were beginning to rise up enough to create a splash on the surface
of the water and Ray was beginning to relax, even looking like he could
be suppressing a smile. Ten minutes later the Ray was able to control
the direction of movement fairly accurately and the kicking was less
frantic, more effective and beginning to look more like swimming and
rather less like a children's water fight.
After a few widths of the deep end Fraser thought it was maybe
time to move on. Speaking to Ray during one his breaks on the side he
made a suggestion.
"Ray, you look ready for the next step."
"Which would be what Fraser my dolphin-like friend?"
Ray was fairly pleased with himself and his characteristic enthusiasm
was beginning to make a welcome appearance.
"I would suggest putting one of the floats on the side and
holding the other one out straight in front of you seeing if you can
get your arms straight, chin and shoulders in the water."
Fraser would normally have got in to demonstrate but Ray's peculiar
behavior from earlier was not forgotten and he felt reluctant to get
in the pool in case it provoked another unexplained outburst and ruined
the new found enthusiasm.
Ray dumped one of the floats by the side and with a rather inelegant
splash pushed away from the side, hung on the board and began to kick.
This time the swimming really was looking like swimming and Fraser could
tell that Ray was not depending quite so heavily on the board. He was
even moving fairly fast and the smile that had been tottering around
the edges of Ray's mouth finally broke in to a huge disarming grin.
Fraser felt his whole body warm at the sight and felt his face
break in to a similarly unrestrained smile.
"It seems Ray, that the 27th precinct will have one more
able representative at the Kidney Research Charity Gala."
Unfortunately this statement seemed to momentarily distract Ray,
who was leaning heavily on the float at the time. Somehow he lost his
grip on the float, giving it enough leeway to pop to the surface and
bounce just out of Ray's grasp. Ray grabbed at it but his movement in
the water just carried it further away and he began to splash frantically.
Instantly Fraser slipped in to the water and was next to Ray
before he knew it. Grabbing on to Ray's shoulders he attempted to pull
him to the side. He was quite unprepared for the fists that appeared
out of nowhere and knee in his guts. By the time he had registered what
had happened Ray seemed have lost the battle to stay afloat was swallowing
huge mouthfuls of water while attempting to breathe. Any knowledge he
had gained in learning to swim that afternoon quickly deserted him. Fraser
recognized the signs of an impending panic attack and although they were
only a few meters from the side of the pool, he knew he would have to
adopt the technique he had learnt in life saving classes to get unconscious
or uncooperative swimmers to safety.
He positioned himself behind Ray, ignoring his continuing efforts
to push him away. This merely confirmed what he already knew, that if
Ray decided to fight he would fight to the death if he deemed it necessary.
Taking a firm hold around his neck with his elbow, he pulled Rays back
towards his chest and began to swim backwards towards the side.
Fraser wasn't sure if Ray was still conscious when he pulled
him bodily out of the pool but the harsh coughing soon indicated he was.
Alarmingly the coughing turned to vomiting and what seemed like vast
amounts of water was forcibly ejected on to the tiled floor as Ray began
Feeling uncharacteristic indecisiveness, Fraser simply sat a
meter or so away from Ray and watched while he regained at least some
of his composure. When he did so, still shaking, he turned to Fraser
with a look that Fraser recognized as being reserved only for the lowest
of the low.
"I told you. I told you. I fucking told you not to touch
me Fraser and you did anyway. You never listen you moron. The one thing
I asked you not to do and you did it."
The short sentence was punctuated by another coughing fit, during
which Ray stood up, grabbed his towel and T-shirt and stormed into the
For the third time in less than one hour Fraser was left with a feeling of shock and total confusion with no idea how to react or what to do. Stunned, he slowly picked up the abandoned swimming boards and his towel and hesitantly followed Ray in to the changing rooms, with no small amount of apprehension.
Ray was already half dressed by the time Fraser entered the room.
He was breathing heavily, his movements angry and jerky. He ignored Fraser
and continued dressing with very little effort to dry himself first.
As soon as he was dressed Ray slammed the locker door, picked up his
bag and left the room. He had not looked at or spoken a word to Fraser.
Slowly Fraser finished dressing and packed the wet towel, costumes
and swimming boards into his bag. He set off through the hospital towards
the car park, not sure whether or not he expected the GTO to be there
but unwilling to let the day end on such a disastrous note.
He was relieved to see the GTO still where it had been parked
and Ray sitting in the front seat waiting for him. He climbed in to the
passenger seat and sat, facing the front. Neither of them spoke and the
silence was deafening.
Fraser was beginning to wonder how long they would sit there
when increased movement from Ray indicated he was preparing himself to
speak. His tone was soft and the speech halting.
"Fraser I'm sorry. I didn't mean it."
Ray sighed heavily.
"No you don't Fraser, you really don't." Another deep breath before continuing.
"Fraser I'm not scared of water. It's not the water, it's just...its
just people...I don't like people... touching me in the water. I hate
it actually. Stupid huh?"
Fraser was surprised by this unexpected admission. There was
a pause as he carefully considered his response.
"I very much doubt that it's stupid Ray, much as I would
very much doubt such an intense dislike has no basis or experience on
which to develop. Whether or not you tell me what that experience was
is entirely your decision, but if I'm going to teach you to swim it may
be helpful for me to understand as quite clearly I do not."
Ray turned was suddenly very interested in events out of his
side window. Fraser resigned himself to his refusal to talk and was surprised
when Ray began.
"I've never really told anyone and if I tell you I'm trusting
you not to tell anyone either. Not ever."
"And you can't mention it again unless I do. And you have
to promise me that you won't think I'm a freak or a screw up or anything
"I can promise you the first two but as for the third, I
can't promise what I'll think until you tell me what it is. But I know
you, you are my best friend and I think very highly of you. I cannot
imagine you have anything to tell me which will make me change my mind."
Ray seemed to consider this and he turned to face Fraser, a small
chuckle easing the tension a little.
"Coulda just lied you know."
Ray looked out of the window again and made a decision. He began the story in a detached monotone.
"When I was about six or seven my parents decided it was time I learnt to swim. I wanted to, that was cool so we they got me lessons with this guy down at the Recreation Center early on Saturday mornings. Young guy, student or something. Anyway, it was one to one tuition, my folks thought I'd learn easier so my mom would drive me and she would wait at the top and read her book while I had my lesson. It was early so the pool would be pretty much empty except for us."
He started to fiddle with the zip on his jacket and continued,
slightly less certain than before.
"Anyway, you guessed it, he was a pervert. Got his jollies
by sticking his hands down my costume and feeling while he was holding
me up and supposedly instructing me. If I objected he would threaten
to push me under. After the first couple of times of thinking I was gonna
die, I believed him. When he decided I should learn to swim on my back
he...he...you know, with his finger. It hurt."
Ray blinked a few times and continued.
"My mom never seemed to be looking, I suppose she couldn't
really see anyway. I told them I wanted to stop lessons but not why,
I was scared they either wouldn't believe me or that somehow he would
get to know and he would drown me. Stupid I know but it was different
then, people didn't believe kids and the threat was there. My parents
kept on making me go, me getting more and more hysterical each time.
There was a point where it took both of my parents to get me there and
they had to hold me down just to get me changed into my bathing suit."
An ugly grimace passed across Rays face.
"I put up a good fight, it was embarrassing but their theory
was that the tantrum always stopped once they left me with him so it
couldn't be that bad. Of course they stopped, I was terrified he was
gonna drown me. 'Just a performance' they used to say, he even told my
Mom I behaved better when she wasn't there so she stopped watching at
all. Anyway, after a couple of months I think they decided they couldn't
cope with the Saturday morning trauma anymore and the lessons stopped.
Never got around to learning after that."
He paused a short while, clearly considering the issue further,
"He committed suicide just afterwards, can't say I felt
particularly sorry but I remember my folks being upset as they knew his
parents. It was a long time ago Fraser, doesn't really matter now."
The story finished, Ray looked at Fraser, the determination evident on his face.
"But I can learn. I will learn if you'll teach me. I have
"Of course you can Ray. And you'll do it well. I have every
confidence that you can do anything you put your mind to. Teaching you
would be my privilege and my pleasure."
Ray turned away and started up the car. He turned and smiled at Fraser, looking more cheerful than
he had all day.
Ray's good mood continued throughout the next day, he was relieved
that Fraser didn't appear to be treating him any differently and, true
to his word he had not brought the subject up on his again. The idea
of someone knowing and the world not having fallen apart made him almost
giddy with relief, almost as if the worst thing possible had happened
and the expected fall out had not occurred.
After a full day's work in which nothing much had happened Ray
and Fraser set off for the hospital pool again. This time since they
already had their swimming gear they arrived slightly before 6.00pm when
the pool was still in use.
Waiting in the changing rooms, Ray's mood started to deteriorate rapidly. The familiar atmosphere of the pool assaulted his senses, allowing the nervous anticipation and anxiety to start building again.
Wisely Fraser ignored the building tension, he proceeded to get
changed and put his clothes away. Once he had done so, he turned to Ray
who had only removed his boots and socks, and sat on the small bench,
apparently unwilling to strip further.
"Ray, I bought this for you. I thought you might like it."
Ray looked up to see Fraser removing something from a plastic
bag that appeared to be a small black piece of swimsuit material. Now
he was curious, Fraser didn't generally go round buying things for people
and this thing had a label attached to it so it was clearly shop bought
which was even more unusual.
"A sort of swimming t-shirt Ray, surfers apparently wear
them under their wet suits to prevent chafing and sunburn. Its designed
for swimming in and is made of a very similar mix of Lycra and synthetic
materials to a traditional costume so it dries easily, clings to the
skin, keeps you warm and.. ." he paused at this. "Well, it
Ray laughed at this and took hold of the t-shirt. Fraser was
right, it did look cool. There was some sort of small design on it which
he recognized from one of the very few surf shops in Chicago. He smiled,
pleased by the gift and touched by the thought behind it.
"Thanks Frase. Its great, really great. Greatness in fact."
He immediately stripped off his remaining clothes and put the
It felt comfortable and he liked it. He turned to Fraser in an unspoken request for an opinion.
"Charming Ray. You look, what's the phrase? 'Ready to kick
butt' I believe?"
Ray laughed again and started piling his clothes in to the locker.
The pool was now empty but the anxiety he had been feeling had evaporated
and he was eager to begin the challenge. Fraser followed Ray in to the
pool, carrying the swimming boards but being careful to allow him to
set the ground rules and lead the lesson.
This time there was far less hesitancy about entering the water.
Ray simply went to the stairs and climbed in, motioning for Fraser to
throw him the swimming boards that were in his hands. Fraser sat on the
edge, feeling the warm water with his feet. The water felt pleasant and
warm to the touch. He would have loved to get in and swim but was waiting
for some invitation from Ray before he did so. Fraser continued to watch
Ray happily splash with the board, he even put his head under the water,
although he was holding his nose and scrunching up his eyes to do so.
After five minutes the playing ground to a halt. Ray stopped
and turned to Fraser, the light hearted atmosphere vanished.
"This is stupid. People go swimming together all the time,
they have fun and do stuff without freaking. You should get in."
Fraser climbed in, enjoying the warmth but keeping his distance
from Ray. A look of sadness flitted across Ray's face and he spoke again.
"Fraser this isn't gonna work. I mean I don't want to spend
all my time when I am swimming looking around for who's near me and what
they're gonna do. That's no fun. I want to enjoy it. You know, play around, race, dive, do all the normal things
and I can't do that if no-one can touch me."
Fraser wasn't sure he was getting the point.
"What exactly are you suggesting Ray?"
"I have to learn not to freak, get over it and stop being
a baby." He stopped, unsure of how to continue.
"Would you mind touching me Fraser" He laughed, embarrassed
at how it sounded. "You know what I mean, if I can get used to you
touching me in the water then I can concentrate on learning to swim instead
of just checking out where other people are. You don't have to do much...well
except ignore me if I make a complete idiot of myself."
"It would be a pleasure Ray."
Ray looked at him oddly and then grinned "Constable Benton Fraser, come on down. You are first in the very short line of people lucky enough to have seen Ray Kowalski freak out, kick them in the head and then ask them to touch him all in the name of friendship. Your prize is waiting."
Fraser remained still in the neck deep water and let Ray come
to him, not wanting Ray to feel threatened. Despite the joke he could
see Ray was nervous and the atmosphere was heavy again. When he was about
a meter from Fraser, Ray stopped.
"Okay, how about if I touch you first?"
"Feel free, Ray." Ray edged forward, arms extended.
He started looking around the room in an exaggerated fashion, appearing
to be expecting something.
"What are you looking for Ray."
"Candid camera. Two cops cop a feel in the pool. Tom Dewey
with his home video camera ready to film Ray's most embarrassing moments." But while he was talking he had moved
much closer to Fraser, Ray's hands on his arms facing him and now he
was debating what to do next.
"Now what Fraser?"
"Well I suppose I should touch you."
"Okay, go for it, many women would pay good money for such
Ray stiffened slightly as Fraser reached for him but expecting
the touch reduced the shock as Fraser's right hand touched his shoulder.
He grimaced but remained still as Fraser's hand traveled down towards
his chest to be joined by the other hand.
Not sure of how to continue, Fraser looked to Ray for guidance
and was pleased to see a relieved but still nervous smile on his face.
"That's ten bucks American you owe me, don't want you to
think I'm cheap or anything."
"Oh I won't Ray."
Fraser swiftly pulled Rays upper arm with one hand and started
to tickle the exposed ribs with his other hand while dragging Ray into
shallower water. Rays struggle began immediately as the combination of
surprise and ticklishness caused him to cry out.
"Fraser you pondscum. Stop it."
Giggles over took him as Fraser moved behind him, put his arms
around his chest and started to tickle both sides of his ribs. He tried
ineffectively to push Fraser's arms down but was incapacitated by the
giggling fit and merely managed to give him better access to his ribs.
The struggle continued for a few minutes, punctuated by Ray's shouted
threats of imminent death and injury. Eventually Ray began to tire, he
admitted defeat and gasped breathlessly.
"Okay, okay I give up, you can pay me in Canadian."
"How very gracious of you Ray" said Fraser grinning,
still standing with his arms wrapped around Ray's chest in a loose embrace.
Suddenly the moment was broken as they both became self conscious,
aware of the unusual physical intimacy. Ray pushed away with obvious
embarrassment, keen to re-establish a more comfortable and familiar boundary.
He turned around and started heading towards the deep end..
"Okay done that. That's over. Now lets get on with the swimming
but stay close Frase as I had plenty of experience drowning yesterday,
don't need to practice that anymore."
After a little discussion and more than a little persuasion on
Fraser's part it was eventually decided that it was time for Ray to try
swimming without the board. After a perfunctory explanation of how to
use his hands as a paddle, Fraser swam with Ray into the center of the
pool where he was just out of his depth, being supported only by Fraser's
hands under his belly. In the center Fraser let go and Ray started to
swim towards the side of the pool. After initially sinking, Ray's head
popped to the top and he began to swim. Really swim.
Half an hour later Ray was very comfortably swimming lengths of the pool in a fairly flamboyant dog paddle, enjoying every moment and boasting loudly about his greatly exaggerated swimming prowess. The atmosphere on leaving the pool that day was in marked contrast to the previous evening.
The next two weeks were consumed by working and swimming. Fraser
taught Ray all the basic strokes, which he picked up with an ease of
which Fraser was almost envious. It soon became apparent that having
missed out on swimming when he was young, Ray had an insatiable appetite
for playing and inventing challenges. Fortunately Fraser never indulged
in much of this either so they happily whittled away hours diving for
bricks, racing and performing not very impressive acrobatics under the
water. By the time the gala was upon them the days of Ray's being unable
to swim seemed an almost distant memory.
At about 7.00am Fraser was amazed to receive a phone call from Ray offering to accompany on his morning walk with Dief. He suspected Ray would have been practically bouncing off the walls of his apartment with excitement. The mood was contagious and by the time Ray picked Fraser up to take Dief to the park all three of them were in state of barely contained exuberance.
The gala was an annual event in which each Chicago precinct was
represented by a team of eight swimmers who would compete in a variety
of sponsored events in order to raise money for a chosen charity. This
year it was Kidney Research. Fraser couldn't represent the 27th precinct
and Ray was somewhat chagrined to find that Tom Dewey, despite all his
noise had actually not volunteered to swim himself and was simply going
to watch from the spectator gallery.
Fraser and Ray arrived early, having decided to leave Dief at
the consulate. The noise and crowds in the entry foyer were already reaching
fever pitch. After a brief 'good luck' to Ray, Fraser left him to get
changed and register and he headed upstairs to join the friends and families
of the swimmers. Fraser was grateful Ray had reminded him to wear a cotton
T-shirt and slacks for the event., the humidity and temperature was so
high in the spectator gallery he could feel a sweat breaking out despite
the light clothing, briefly crushing any desire he had ever had to see
After sitting down at the back for a few minutes, Fraser was
tapped on the shoulder. He turned around to see Welsh standing behind
him, looking even more hot and bothered than he felt.
"Constable Fraser, a quick word?"
"Certainly Lieutenant," said Fraser, standing up and
following him to a quiet spot against the back wall.
"Constable, much as I appreciate and impressed by Detective
Vecchio's unstoppable enthusiasm and drive to support the precinct, there
is a small problem which I feel should probably be considered before
this goes any further."
"And what would that be Sir?"
"Fraser, I know he can't swim," replied Welsh, beginning
to look exasperated.
Fraser could feel himself swell with pride not only in Ray but
also in his part of the remarkable achievement as he was delighted to
"Well actually Lieutenant he can. Very well I might add."
Welsh looked at Fraser suspiciously,
"For his sake and yours I hope you're right." He nodded in a direction over Fraser's
shoulder. "Look at who's just walked in".
Fraser turned and followed Welsh's line of vision to where Stella
Kowalski stood, looking for a seat. Behind her stood Ray's parents. Fraser
turned back to Welsh.
"I think I see some parents who are about to be very proud
of their son."
With that he nodded his goodbye and went take his place with
in the spectators. The gala was about to begin.
Rays first race was a 100m breaststroke. It wasn't his best stroke
and he was unlikely to win but Fraser could see him searching the crowd
for both himself and Stella. He seemed surprised to see his parents there
and he smiled and waved uncertainly before looking again at Fraser. He
wore the T-shirt and swim trunks Fraser had given him which seemed to
have the effect of making him seem even thinner than usual. Fraser anticipated
Ray would suffer his mother's overenthusiastic attempts to feed him in
the course of the next few weeks. The thought of this didn't entirely
displease Fraser since he had on previous occasions benefited from piles
of food dumped at the consulate by Ray when Mrs Kowalski had decided
to fill Ray's freezer with, according to Ray 'unidentifiable green stuff'.
Ray swam well. He came second in the breast and fourth in a further two. A very respectable showing for someone who had only been swimming a few weeks, Fraser doubted that Ray understood how truly impressive that was but he could see from Ray's stance that he was proud of himself. He was walking around the poolside with what could almost be described as a strut, an uncontrolled grin appearing every thirty seconds or so. Fraser noticed Ray trying to catch Stella's eye and was relieved to see she had the common decency to congratulate him by making mimed motions of applause in his direction.
Races passed on to prize giving and speeches. Losing interest,
Fraser decided to go and greet the Kowalskis and congratulate them on
their son's achievement. Other than Fraser, only they really understood
the significance of the day although Stella obviously suspected. He found
them by the caf, talking to Lieutenant Welsh. Mr Kowalski and Welsh were
deep in conversation about some vehicle or other so Fraser turned to
"Mrs Kowalski, you must be very proud."
Mrs Kowalski leaned in closer to Fraser and took him by the hand,
speaking quietly in his ear.
"I suspect we have you to thank. I didn't believe it when
Stella phoned us only this morning and told us he was really going to
do it and she thought we should come. Poor Raymond, he really did battle
with it. Do tell me about it how you got him in the pool. I thought we
had tried everything."
"I didn't do much Mrs Kowalski, just sat by the side and
gave a few pointers. He got the hang of it very easily and we've been
practicing a lot these last few weeks."
"I never understood it. He was so good at everything."
She stopped and looked at Fraser, embarrassed by the obvious
mother's pride over the statement.
"Well, make that everything that didn't involve sitting down, concentrating or staying still that is.
Sports I mean. He could skate, run, catch, throw better than
most other kids and it looked like that was going to hold for swimming
too. He could almost swim, that's why we got him lessons. So that he
could learn a proper stroke, but for some reason it just seemed to make
him regress. He hated lessons, you wouldn't have believed the fuss he
used to make about going and believe me that child could make a fuss
when he wanted. He probably still can."
Fraser could see the issue still bothered her. The confusion
and concern over Ray's behavior years ago was still visible on her face
as she continued.
"We should have listened. By the time we realized his fear
of swimming was a bit more than just a childish tantrum he had already
developed a full blown phobia. His behavior was suffering. He started
wetting the bed again, nightmares, fighting at school, we really didn't
know what to do and at first we still don't know if it was even related
to the swimming. Anyway, when the swimming stopped, the behavior stopped
and I think we were reluctant to ever bring it up again. We didn't want
a repeat performance so we just left it. I still wonder if we did the
right thing. I'd like to ask Ray about it but I don't feel I can unless
he talks about it first. I get the feeling he never will. "
She appeared to pull herself back from her memories and Fraser
noticed her eyes travel down to the poolside where Ray was standing,
chatting with some policemen from other precincts. She turned back to
face him and smiled.
"He had a lovely instructor you know, a handsome young student
named Jeffery Righton who was at college training to teach children's
sports. He was so good and gentle, ever so patient with Raymond even
when he was creating a scene, which he did a lot of back then. He had
far more success in quieting him than we did. He was so good in fact
that he volunteered to come over every Thursday night for about for the
few months while he was teaching him and mind him when we went out to
our Polish community meetings. He would bring candy and games and was
very disappointed if Raymond was in bed already, so we used to keep him
awake to play.
It was odd, at the time he was the only person Raymond was always
quiet and well behaved with, but then Jeffery loved children. It was
very sad, after he had been giving Ray lessons for a few months his younger
brother committed suicide, no-one knew why and it tore the family apart.
We didn't really see him after that. Last I heard Jeffery was developing
and running a residential children's summer camp program for underprivileged
children just outside of Chicago. I still see his mother around sometimes."
Mrs Kowalski turned to the pool again and chuckled as she saw
Ray pushing another policeman in the pool and getting dunked himself
in return. Ray looked on top of the world, enthusiastically horsing around
in the pool with the other officers in a manner that Fraser had no doubt
she had long ago given up hope of ever seeing.
Fraser also turned and watched the scene. It felt to him as if
it was on a TV screen with Ray as the main actor. He felt the world recede
slightly and a whooshing in his ears. Blackness threatened to overwhelm
him. He leant heavily on the side barrier and took a few deep breaths
in an attempt to quell the unexpected rising nausea. He stared at Ray
who at that moment looked up, smiled and waved. Fraser waved back, the
shelter of the automatic response helping him regain his equilibrium
and giving him space to assimilate the unexpected information. The shock
of what he had just heard was barely registering. It wasn't just in the
pool that Ray had been exposed to this man, it was also in his home.
A fact that Ray either didn't remember or had chosen not to tell Fraser.
The last bit was the bombshell. This predator, this pervert who had hurt Ray was not dead as Ray believed but still actively involved with children and if the standard pattern of pedophile behavior was to hold true, he was still doing it and would continue to do so until he was stopped.
Fraser felt the heavy weight of impending doom settle in the
pit of his stomach. If Ray discovered this, Fraser knew his sense of
outrage and need to protect the innocent would drive him to ensure justice
was done, regardless of the personal cost to himself.
A sad piece of history had just become a real and immediate threat.
After making small talk with Mrs Kowalski for a few more minutes.
Fraser excused himself and headed for the foyer, on the pretence of finding
Ray and letting him know his parents were waiting for him upstairs. The
foyer was still crowded but the bustle enabled Fraser to position himself
quietly against the wall where he could watch the changing room door
Fraser's mind was reeling from the information so casually acquired
from Mrs Kowalski. His concern for Ray was immense. His first impulse
was to let sleeping dogs lie. Ray had obviously dealt with it as well
as he could in his own way and for him the matter was over, a page of
history. To raise the matter again was not going to help Ray. It could
only hurt him further. Knowing how sensitive this subject was for him,
it would hurt him worse than Fraser wanted to admit.
Unfortunately the reality of this situation was that this particular
sleeping dog was not sleeping. In fact it would seem as if he was very
much awake. The likelihood that children were still suffering and would
continue to suffer as Ray had was not a matter that Fraser's conscience
was easily going to let him forget.
Catching a flash of red out of the corner of his eye, Fraser
headed for the nearest bathroom. Having conversations with his Father
in public was not generally fruitful. Ray wouldn't have believed it but
Fraser didn't really relish the idea of people thinking he was stark
Relieved to find the bathroom empty, Fraser turned to face his
"Dad, this really isn't the time."
"When are you going to tell him?"
"Tell him what?"
Fraser turned away and started to wash his face. Trying to clean off the sweat and heat build up resulting from the humid atmosphere of the spectator lounge. He sighed.
"I'm not sure even that I'm going to tell him. He doesn't need
to know he's alive and he definitely doesn't need to know I know more
about his own abuse than he told me."
"Of course, a lie by omission. I'm sure he'd understand."
"It wouldn't be a lie Dad. Well, not exactly a lie."
"Whatever you say son. So you regard it as acceptable to allow children continue to suffer just to protect him from an unpleasant reality?"
His distress was making his temper short. Fraser could feel himself starting to use the snappy tone he often used on his Father and Ray on very bad days.
"I don't believe I said that. There are many alternative routes
that can be taken in order to ensure this man is brought to justice.
If he is still an active pedophile there will be ample evidence of this
and of more recent cases. I just have to find it. It would be unnecessary
to inform Ray of his misapprehension at this time and it could be detrimental
to my ability to pursue this case effectively.
"No doubt the Yank would appreciate your failing to inform him
of crucial information pertaining to a crime committed against his person.
Information, which would enable him to pursue a course of action of his
"And how exactly would this help him? Dad, this is Ray we're talking about. His impulse control leaves a little to be desired you know. I think 'kick 'em in the head' and worse could well end up being the case in this instance."
"Let me just get this straight. This is your partner and you friend you are talking about. A man whom you would claim to be your equal, yet you don't trust him to make the right decision for himself. Well, everybody's different but boy, I'm glad I'm your Father not your friend. Or your child for that matter."
Fraser paused, suddenly feeling tired and defeated,
"Dad, he could end up hurting himself far more than he's already
been hurt. If his reaction is violent or illegal it could potentially
result in any possible prosecution of this man being seriously undermined.
I can't take that risk Dad. He can't take that risk."
"Well, just as long as you're certain that it's your risk to
With that, Bob Fraser left the bathroom, leaving Fraser feeling worse than before. Pulling himself together, he muttered, "easy for you to say, he's not your friend" to no one in particular and left the room to continue his wait for Ray.
It wasn't long before the changing room door opened and Ray came
out, his hair still damp and his skin flushed from the heat of the pool.
On seeing Fraser, he smiled and headed towards him. The high of the gala
still obvious in his demeanor.
"Hey Fraser. What you doing here, thought you'd be upstairs telling
my Mother a story about Inuit cooking or something. Heat get too much?"
"Something like that. Congratulations by the way, your parents seemed most impressed."
Ray shrugged his shoulders,
"Knowing my Mom, she's probably feeling bad that she didn't get
me swimming earlier. C'mon, lets go and bask in the glory".
Following Ray up the stairs, Fraser was acutely aware of how
his feelings towards Ray had changed. Angrily he chided himself, he had
promised. Well, sort of promised that he wouldn't treat Ray any differently
when he had told him of the abuse he had suffered. Almost certainly this
almost overwhelming need to protect him he was experiencing now had to
count as 'treating him differently'. In Fraser's eyes Ray seemed smaller,
younger and more vulnerable now, his current excitement like that of
a child's. Fraser felt a sudden urge to get as far away from Ray as possible
so that he no longer had to look at him and take responsibility for the
decision he knew he had to make.
"Ray," said Fraser as he grabbed the back of Rays jacket in order
to catch his attention.
"I think I'm going to walk back to the consulate. It occurs to
me there many small jobs to be done which I should really do while I
have the time. Please make my apologies to your parents. I'll see you
Ray frowned and looked at his friend, confused.
"I thought you might want to come to my folks for lunch. My mom
would love to cook for you and if you're not there she'll do that 'you
don't eat enough' thing and get all upset. You know how much I hate that.
Can't you do whatever it is later? Please?"
Despite the plea, Fraser had already started descending the stairs backwards.
"I'm sorry Ray, I really can't. I'll see you soon".
With that he turned and walked quickly away, missing the look
of confusion, disappointment and hurt on Ray's face as he continued upstairs
to meet his parents.
Fraser used the time alone to see what information he could gather about Jeffery Righton on the Consulate computer. It didn't take long before he found the development program Mrs Kowalski was referring to. He established that he was indeed a leader of 'The Sunshine Children's Camp' just outside of Chicago.
He found a prospectus aimed at parents and counselors considering the program. The residential program was aimed at seven to twelve-year-old deprived children. These children had no other access to rural experiences and their parents could not afford the luxury of private summer camps. Photographs showed a functional building by a lake. Not beautiful but a change from the city. The center apparently catered to thirty children and there were seven full time staff.
Various sports were offered, including swimming. The thought sent a shudder up Fraser's spine. A page was dedicated to the staff and counselors. Jeffery Righton appeared to be one of their more esteemed team members. His photograph showed a good looking man in his late forties or early fifties, looking fit and healthy. He smiled into the camera looking like the favorite uncle who everyone loves.
Information of funding revealed no surprises. The financing seemed fairly standard; similar to hundreds of other identical programs run around the country. It did prove however that Jeffery had no criminal record. The screening of staff in such state funded programs involving vulnerable children for was very strictly enforced.
The consulate access to American law enforcement
records and information databases wasn't adequate for further personal
information on Jeffery Righton. Fraser had to resign himself to waiting
until Monday to discover if any investigations, complaints or charges
had ever involved him.
Fraser didn't see Ray the rest of the weekend. He left the answer
machine on at the consulate and knew Ray phoned twice to try and make
a plan to do something together at the weekend. He returned the calls
late on Sunday night, ashamed of himself at the avoidance tactics he
knew he was using. Ray picked up the phone sounding sleepy and bad tempered.
"Hey Frase, where have you been?, I've been trying to call you
all day, thought we could have done something?"
"Sorry Ray, I had some chores to do which kept me busy. I had
to walk Diefenbaker, prepare some paperwork for tomorrow and the day
just seems to have flown".
"I could have helped. Well helped walk Diefenbaker anyway".
"Yes, next time I'll bear that in mind."
An awkward silence followed and Fraser found himself trying to
think of some way to end the very brief conversation. Ray broke the silence,
sounding unusually hesitant.
"Fraser is there something wrong? Have I done something to offend
you 'cause you're acting weird. Weird even for you that is".
Fraser closed his eyes, wishing that Ray were not always so perceptive,
nor so direct in his questions. It made it harder to evade the truth.
Ray's obvious hurt made Fraser's stomach clench. He immediately wished
Ray was there, to see he was safe if nothing else.
"No Ray, you haven't done anything wrong. I apologize if I am
acting a little strangely, I didn't get much sleep last night"
Ray seemed to accept this.
"Best you get to bed then, see you tomorrow. Goodnight".
Fraser heard the click in his ear and replaced his own handset.
The feeling of sadness overwhelming him again. It hadn't been a lie when
he said he hadn't got much sleep last night. He could only hope that
by tomorrow he had some answers.
Monday didn't go much better. Whenever Ray was present Fraser found the now familiar protective urge almost overwhelming, despite his efforts to keep his behavior normal.
All day Fraser stuck close to Ray, barely restraining himself
from following him to the bathroom. He could not refrain from commenting
on Ray's poor eating habits and apparent lack of sleep. When Ray spilled
boiling coffee on himself, his suggestion that he should see a doctor
for the resulting minor burn was met with disdain and ridicule. The tension
between them was rising but after avoiding Ray at the weekend Fraser
felt compelled to stay.
Things reached a peak in the late afternoon. Ray had brought
in a suspect. A young, first time drug dealer. He looked tough, he walked
the walk and talked the talk.
Fraser recognized something of Ray in him and briefly considered
how lucky his friend was to have the parents and love he had experienced.
Although the offender was young, he was large but his attempts to be
intimidating were somewhat undermined by the fact that he was clearly
nervous. Ray was trying his best to get through to him but his patience
was wearing thin. And so was the suspect's. It looked like it was going
to be a long interrogation.
Fraser took the opportunity to excuse himself and see if Frannie
had managed to dig up any information on Jeffery Righton. He knew Ray
would be busy for a while. Jeffery Righton was not entirely unknown to
the police. Over the years there had been six different charges laid
against him. Every one had been shelved due to lack of evidence. The
last one was barely three years old. A twelve-year-old named James Ross
from one of Chicago's housing projects had spoken out secure in the knowledge
he was too old to have another summer at the camp.
Details of the alleged abuse were sadly familiar, so was the lack of evidence. Not stopping to read anymore, Fraser
slipped copies of the information into the pocket of his greatcoat,
unclear on exactly what he was going to do with them.
On returning to the interview room, Fraser was alarmed to hear
raised voices. The interview was obviously not going well. When he opened
the door the only thing he saw was the suspect standing up to his full
height leaning over Ray who had remained seated. Almost as if it were
happening in slow motion, Fraser felt a wall of red come over him. He
grabbed the suspect punched him as hard as he could on his jaw. He would
have continued to beat him when, as if from a great distance he heard,
Abruptly snapping back to himself he turned round to see Ray
looking at him in horror. Both Ray and Fraser seemed too shocked to speak.
The suspect lay on the ground, not knowing if it was safe to move.
Ray recovered himself first, his surprise and shock evident on
First he checked the suspect was okay, and then left the room,
indicating that Fraser should follow.
He headed towards the closet, stepped in and turned on the light.
Fraser stepped in as well, he himself too shocked to speak.
"What the FUCK was that Fraser?"
Fraser felt numb, the shock not allowing him to think of a sensible answer. He simply told the truth.
"I thought he was going to hit you."
"Fraser he is a kid. A scared, harmless kid trying to be big."
"I thought he was going to hit you",
Fraser repeated, his mind still reeling.
"Fraser, if he was going to hit me I would have restrained him.
I'm a cop, that's what I do. I restrain suspects using minimal force.
"What if he had hurt you?"
"Then I would have kicked him in the head. You know that. It is my job to kick suspects in the head, not yours. Especially when they are threatening me not you. Jesus, what the hell has got into you?"
Rays confusion and anger was evident as he stared at Fraser as if he had grown two heads. Shaking his head he turned away and opened the closet door. He walked swiftly back to the interview room. Fraser knew the situation was getting out of control. Slowly he followed Ray.
Fortunately the young offender did not want to press charges. Seeing as Fraser was not a member of the police department no official investigation was necessary. Even Welsh was left unaware of the incident. The offender was quickly cautioned and sent home, the damage done to his jaw not permanent. Ray joked that Fraser had probably just prevented the kid from entering a lifetime of crime but they both knew the incident was not funny.
By evening it appeared that Ray reached his limit of tolerance. As they left the precinct to get the car Ray turned to Fraser with the look that Fraser recognized as simmering rage.
"Fraser please tell me. Who died and appointed you my Mother?
You know I already have one and one is enough. You've been doing it all
day. Following me around, watching what I'm doing, acting like my mother.
If you want to do the 'Dudley do Right' go and do it somewhere else.
I'm sure there are some nice old ladies just round the corner who would
really appreciate it. They'd probably make you cookies too."
"I'm sorry Ray, I didn't realize I was bothering you"
"Well you are. What is with it with you? You've been weird since the swimming, did something happen that I missed cause you are really freaking me out. First you spend the weekend trying to avoid me. Then you spend today attached like my own personal guardian angel. A guardian angel that I do not need, by the way."
Ray continued walking to the car without waiting for Fraser, but before he got in he turned back and practically spat at him.
"And don't tell me nothing. I'm not interested in that because
you know and I know that would be a lie. However you decide to twist
it around to make it not a lie".
Angrily he shook his head and unlocked the door. His fury didn't
seem abated at the exchange and he got in, looking ready to continue
Ray surprised Fraser by not continuing to rant as soon as he
settled in the passenger seat. A very quick change of mood was apparent
although Fraser didn't know what had caused it.
When Ray spoke again his voice was quiet but hard. Resignation
seemed to have replaced the anger.
"It's okay Fraser, I know what it is. You didn't even break a
promise. I understand if you can't treat me in the same way now that
you know...you know...about that. I'm sorry. I thought you'd understand."
He turned his face away from Fraser. His voice still even but much as he tried to disguise it, the pain was evident in his body which was held rigid as he spoke.
"Fraser please leave, Get out. I don't want to talk about it.
When Fraser didn't move Ray's thin veneer of calm began to crack. As it did so increased his almost panicked urgency in getting Fraser out of the car. It was clear to Fraser that Ray didn't want him witnessing his impending break down. .
"I said go Fraser, get out. Please. Just forget the whole thing.
You did your Mountie obligation bit, you taught me to swim. Now you can
go. GET OUT!"
Ray sat still for a few moments until he gave up the battle for control. He covered his face, trying desperately to control the tears that threatened. Fraser remained still. Never good at dealing with emotions, he now felt paralyzed in the face of Ray's outburst. Finally the words came to him.
"You don't understand".
Rays fury returned, hitting Fraser like an almost physical force
as Ray turned to him and hissed,
"Understand what Fraser? That the clean, perfect prince of the
North doesn't want to be dirtied by sordid, seedy details? That people
like you who are so logical, so sane don't mix with pathetic screw-ups
like me. That you can help me, pity me, be kind to me but you don't want
to be my partner because I'm just not like that. I'm damaged. A victim
in need of protection. Well fuck you Mr Mountie. I don't need that and
I don't need you so just get out."
Silence followed again and Fraser made his decision. Ray was
hurt either way and Fraser could hear the betrayal in Ray's voice. .
"Ray, we need to talk. I'm sorry, there is something, but we
can't talk about it here. Lets go to your apartment and I promise I'll
explain everything there.
Barely mollified, Ray started the car and the set off for his
Fraser silently wondering why it was that part of being friends
with people always seemed to involve hurting them.
The drive back to the apartment was spent in an uneasy silence. The tension was so thick it was almost palpable. Ray was giving nothing away except his anger, which felt like a barrier on the seat between them. Fraser didn't think he had ever seen him so closed off. If he hadn't been experiencing it he wouldn't have even thought it possible.
As soon as they entered the apartment Ray hung is jacket and
gun holster on the table. He closed the door and turned to Fraser.
Still not sure of the approach to take, Fraser tried to prepare Ray for the information. There was no easy way to say it so decided to start of with the least bad news first.
"Ray, I talked to your mother at the pool. She informed me that
your swimming instructor used to come and baby-sit you at home some evenings".
Ray didn't move. He stared straight ahead, but Fraser could see
the sullen barricade he pulled tightly around him.
Refusing to be dissuaded by the tone Fraser continued.
"This leads me to believe that you possibly suffered rather more
abuse than you mentioned. I don't know if you don't remember or you simply
chose not to tell me. Either way, it would feel like a betrayal of trust
if I didn't let you know it was aware of this."
Ray continued to stare straight ahead. His eyes seemed to be seeing nothing. His voice was flat and emotionless.
"I didn't tell you about it because I didn't want you to know.
I still don't want you to know. You promised you wouldn't bring it up
again and I don't want to talk about it. You shouldn't have asked my
Mom. That was prying Fraser ".
"I didn't ask her Ray. She just mentioned it in the course of
Ray turned to look at Fraser. His voice was bitter and harsh but the barely contained tears in his eyes spoke more than the words.
"But you had to know didn't you?. You always have to know. Why
didn't you just leave it, then we could have still been friends. I knew
I shouldn't have told you anything but that's me, shooting my mouth off
all the time. Stupid. A moment of weakness I guess."
"We still are friends Ray. Something bad happened to you which was not your fault and which you couldn't change. It happens to a great many people, some of whom deal with it better than others. I think you have handled this remarkably well all things considered. I don't regard you as a screw up nor a victim, just a person who has had some bad experiences.
Fraser paused. Not sure if he had just made the situation worse.
It was hard to explain how he felt and how he had behaved seeing as he
didn't really understand it himself. Knowing that the subject was littered
with minefields didn't make it any easier.
"I'm sorry about my behavior today, it was unacceptable. I know
you are perfectly capable of looking after yourself, you have proved
that in many circumstances and over a great many years in which I have
been nowhere near. If I display misguided attempts to protect you please
believe it is no way a reflection of you, just a reflection of my own
selfish need to keep my best friend safe and unhurt."
Ray looked away, again staring at nothing. Fraser saw an almost imperceptible drop in his shoulders. He hoped it reflected a retreat from the barricade of anger Ray was using to keep his distance. Ray appeared to think a moment, almost as considering whether or not to accept his statement. Fraser did not underestimate the strength and trust it took for Ray to ask the next question.
"So you don't think it's pathetic?"
"I think what happened was terrible. I think like all children
you were vulnerable. He took advantage of that and hurt you. I am very
sorry that it happened"
"Stella thought it was pathetic".
"You told Stella?" Fraser was surprised. Ray hadn't mentioned
"Kind of...well, not exactly" Ray paused. " I was having nightmares,
bad ones and she wanted to know what they were about. Said she couldn't
sleep at night. I didn't tell her about the swimming, just told her that
I couldn't really remember. Anyway, she moved into the spare room and
said I should get help. Didn't have to in the end. She left anyway"
Ray paused, the memory of her leaving left him faltering. A few seconds later he continued.
"She felt sorry for me. I don't want your pity Fraser".
"I don't pity you Ray but I'm terribly sorry it happened. You
were the victim of an assault but you survived it. I lost my Mother and
effectively my Father very young and I survived that too. Many bad things
happen to all of us. It is a reflection of your strength that you are
the person you are today. A person whom I like and admire very much,
a person whom I am proud to call my friend."
At this Ray nodded. Looking at Fraser he seemed embarrassed by the unequivocal support but appreciative all the same. Clearly he was still uncertain but Fraser knew the barricades were down. Ray smiled,
"Thanks Frase". And after a pause "but I still don't want to
talk about it".
A comfortable silence followed. Fraser tried desperately to think
of a gentle way to let Ray know of Jeffery Righton's whereabouts. In
the event, he didn't have time to make a plan.
"Fraser. If what you just said was true and it doesn't change
the way you think of me then something else happened on Sunday when you
were talking to my Mom. You've been acting weird since then and I want
to know why."
Fraser hesitated, his stomach instantly knotting. He was ashamed of his brief impulse to run for the door. Almost as if to counteract the impulse to run, Fraser sat down. He indicated to Ray to take a seat. Ray sat down but his posture made it clear this was in no way relaxing. In fact the gesture appeared to have made him even more apprehensive.
Gathering his somewhat faltering courage Fraser began. His voice
was soft but determined. Ray had to know.
"Ray, tell me what you know about Jeffery Righton."
"Nothing to tell. He was a pervert. He ...you know...to me and now he's dead. End of story."
"He's not dead Ray."
Ray looked at Fraser and blinked. His voice was unconcerned; as if almost bored by the subject.
"I told you Fraser, he's dead. He killed himself."
"When I spoke to your mother she mentioned in the course of the conversation that it wasn't he who committed suicide. It was his younger brother. Jeffery Righton is still alive and well."
At first Ray didn't move but then he began to show signs of frustration, shaking his head as if to refuse the notion. He got up and started to walk around the coffee table. His voice was firm, as if the idea was ridiculous but the underlying plea was there.
A plea to Fraser to make what he said true.
"He's dead, my Mom said. She said it was a tragedy. I remember
her saying at the time. I remember that Fraser. I remember him being
"I'm sorry Ray. You made a mistake."
"I didn't," Ray was angry now.
"You did Ray. I'm afraid
that he is most certainly alive".
Ray's voice was beginning to take on a desperate tone. Fraser
wished so much he could tell him what he wanted to hear.
"You don't know Fraser.
How could you know?"
"I took the liberty of doing some research. Jeffery Righton has
been the subject of several complaints brought against him by children
in his care but none have led to a conviction. He is a counselor in a
children's camp and it would appear that he is continuing his criminal
Ray stopped pacing. He seemed unsure of what to do or where to go. Fraser noticed him glance at the door and wondered if he was experiencing the same impulse to run that he himself had felt just a few minutes before. Ray stood silent for a few moments, his eyes darting frantically around as if he didn't know where to look. His labored breathing was loud in the otherwise silent room.
He walked back to his chair and folded his arms tightly, hunched over his stomach.
It reminded Fraser of someone trying to hold themselves in.
When he spoke his voice was small and confused.
"How could I get that wrong? How could I?"
"You were six years old Ray. A child. Children get things mixed up sometimes. You were no exception."
Ray looked at Fraser. The suffering on Ray's face made Fraser want to look away. His words were not a question. They were said as a matter of fact.
"I always get things wrong Fraser. I always get things wrong."
Ray stood abruptly and went into the bathroom, locking the door
The sound of the toilet flushing was almost immediate but it wasn't loud or fast enough to hide the sound of retching that Fraser clearly heard. Tempted as he was to bang on the door, he knew Ray needed his privacy. Instead, he started to heat some water up for some tea. Fraser knew that ginger tea was good for an upset stomach, but was unsurprised when he couldn't find any in Ray's kitchen. It was perhaps a pointless gesture but he had to feel as if he was doing something.
After five minutes of silence from the bathroom Fraser was startled by the sound of something smashing.
This was immediately followed a loud thumping noise which he
could not identify.
Reluctantly he knocked on the door.
"Ray, are you okay? Ray, open the door."
Sounds of a tap running came from within the bathroom. A few
seconds later Ray came out. He ignored Fraser, walked into the bedroom
and slammed the door. Fraser knew the bedroom door didn't have a lock
but still he was wary of entering when Ray so clearly didn't want him
Fraser looked inside the bathroom. The bathroom mirror was smashed, the pieces all over the floor. It concerned him that he couldn't place what the thumping noise was but he strongly suspected Ray's fists to be the culprits. The small specks of blood on the shards of glass seemed to confirm this.
When he had finished cleaning up the mess in the bathroom Fraser followed Ray in to the bedroom. He didn't know what he was going to say or do but his instinct told him it was the right thing.
Ray was lying in the middle of the bed with his back to the door facing the window. His boots were still on and the covers had not been turned down. Fraser could see slight shaking in his shoulders and the pillow he was hugging was partly covering his face. A washcloth was covering his hand but Fraser didn't mention it, suspecting his concern would only serve to aggravate the situation.
As it was getting dark Fraser moved to pull the blinds closed. When he had done so he turned around and was surprised to see Ray's eyes wide open watching him.
"I can't do this Fraser. I just can't. What if my mother found
out? She'd blame herself, she couldn't handle it. What if Dewey knew?
Jesus Fraser I couldn't cope with that".
Fraser moved to the space on the bed in front of Ray and sat
"You don't have to do anything."
"I do. I have to stop it. He's still out there Fraser. He might
have been... might have been..." At this Ray's voice trailed off, obviously
reluctant to think of exactly what Jeffery Righton may have been doing
in the intervening years. Ray closed his eyes tightly and began a gentle
rocking motion. Fraser could hear his chest tighten and see his arms
tighten around the pillow. Impulsively he reached out to stroke his hair.
Ray shook his head slightly, an indication to Fraser not to touch.
Fraser was scared. Scared that he was losing his best friend.
Scared that he was losing his partner. Most of all he was scared that
he would lose the only person alive that he would claim to love.
"Go away Fraser. I don't want you to see this."
"I would very much like to stay Ray."
Ray stopped rocking and lay still. His voice was firm but the underlying annoyance was clearly audible.
"Well I'd like to be alone Fraser. This is my apartment, my life
and my problem. I don't want to talk and I don't want you to be here.
I'll call you in the morning."
Fraser knew by these words that Ray was choosing to deal with
this alone, as he always had. Although he knew it was almost selfish,
he didn't want to leave Ray. He felt as if he had already let him down
by his peculiar behavior in the last few days. Knowing that this was
just the beginning of the storm, it seemed crucial to him that Ray not
be allowed to retreat into himself at this stage. It felt that if he
let him go, he might just never get him back.
"Ray, as a friend I would like to stay. I have no doubt you can
cope with this alone but I would truly like to help in any way I can."
The next words were an accusation. The suspicion was clear. Fraser was dismayed to hear his own words to his Father being repeated to him.
"You think I'll do something stupid".
"No I don't. I simply want to stay here with you. For myself
as much as for you."
"Suit yourself. You always do."
With that Ray appeared to lose interest in talking. He resumed
his gentle rocking and closed his eyes, looking exhausted.
Noticing the goose bumps on Ray's arms Fraser realized he was
"I'm going to get a blanket," he said quietly.
Without waiting for comment, Fraser fetched the spare blanket
from the cupboard. He didn't want to make Ray move to get him under the
covers but the evening was getting chilly. He picked up some paperback
from Ray's small bookshelf and headed back into the bedroom.
Ray hadn't moved. He put the blanket over him and began matter
of factly to take off his boots. Ray moved to object but seemed to change
his mind as he lay back and allowed Fraser to take the boots off.
Fraser settled on the bed behind Ray in the rapidly dimming room.
He couldn't see the book well but he knew he didn't really want to read
it anyway. He just didn't want Ray to know that. Ray lay facing the window,
his face still partially buried in his pillow, rocking himself gently.
Fraser sat with his back against the wall pretending to read his book.
They remained in a companionable silence, letting the evening become night. After a while the rocking ceased and Fraser fully expected Ray to drop off to sleep. He was surprised when he spoke.
"So what's the plan then Fraser?"
"What plan Ray?"
"You know. The plan where the bad guy goes to jail, innocent lives are saved and the good guys live happily ever after".
"Oh, that plan. Well, I've been working on it. If we go and get
some food I'll tell you all about it".
Fraser went to the kitchen and started rooting about in Ray's
fridge. As usual, the offerings were dismal. He did find a can of baked
beans in the cupboard and some frozen bread in the freezer. Fraser set
about making baked beans on toast while Ray showered.
When Ray came out of the bathroom he looked more awake and less
washed out. He didn't mention the broken mirror. The sweats he was wearing
made him look thin and young. Fraser angrily chided himself on his impulse
to pamper. Ray did not need pampering, he needed a friend and Fraser
wanted to be that friend.
Ray looked with disdain at the offering on the plates.
"I could just order pizza if you like."
"What's wrong with baked beans Ray?. They are very high in protein, low in fat and contain some essential vitamins. In fact they are one of the most popular pre-prepared foods amongst Inuit people. They are nutritious, easy to transport and store, and further more they are cheap."
"Yeah and they taste like it too."
"Why did you buy them then?"
"I didn't. It was my Mom doing that mothering thing again. If you keep on behaving like you were today I'll have a whole stack of them in the cupboard and you can invite all your Eskimo friends to dinner."
Despite the complaint Ray took a plate and went to sit on the
sofa. Fraser sat next to him and handed him a fork. Ray had left the
washcloth in the bathroom and Fraser could see some nasty looking cuts
on his knuckles. He watched him
eat a few mouthfuls before he began.
"I was considering the possibility of our going to interview the suspect tomorrow at the summer camp. We could continue the investigation in to the last complaint made against him by James Ross and see if we could uncover some current evidence or leads. First we should interview the child, it's possible that the initial team missed something and we need more information."
"Can't do it Fraser. The offenses didn't happen within our district, we haven't got any reason to get involved. People might ask questions."
Fraser thought about this for a moment. The idea of people asking questions was obviously a disturbing thought to Ray.
"James lives within our district. Maybe we can be investigating the possibility of offenses being committed at his home. We can go and ask if Jeffery Righton ever visited at home."
It was a tentative reason at best but one that Ray seemed to
"Okay, but I don't want
This stopped Fraser short. It was said as an opinion but the
voice made it clear there was no room for argument.
"What do you mean ' you don't want to?"
"I mean I don't want to. I'm not going to go and interview that
Fraser paused, surprised. He had imagined Ray would be difficult
to stop from pursuing the case.
"As I said Ray, you don't have to do anything you don't want
to do. I can certainly go and interview him myself. I don't see any need
for you to be present."
Ray nodded, looking relieved. He searched around the sofa looking
for the TV controls. He flicked through a few channels, looking as if
the conversation was over. Without turning his head from the screen,
he spoke quietly to Fraser.
"I'll head out to the summer camp tomorrow and interview the...the...the...you
know, him. You speak to the victim. We can compare notes afterwards."
This suggestion was something of a bombshell. Fraser felt a tickling
of trepidation finger it's way up his spine. Careful to keep his voice
in the same neutral tone Ray had used he replied.
"I'm not sure that's such a good idea Ray. Maybe you can wait
for me to finish and then we can drive out together. After all, I have
no other form of transport."
Still looking at the TV screen and flicking channels, Fraser
recognized the increasingly stubborn tone that was creeping into Ray's
"You don't need to come at all Fraser."
"I think I do."
"I don't want you to come."
"And I don't want you to go alone."
Ray was silent. It seemed he too had recognized the finality
in Fraser's voice and had decided to give up the argument. All too easily
There were a few minutes of tense silence. Ray was clearly sulking
and Fraser had adopted a feigned interest in the TV, although Ray seemed
to be sabotaging this by changing the channels as quickly as possible.
He suspected on purpose.
After a while Ray stood up and stretched. His sulk appeared to
"C'mon, it's late and I'm tired. Got to get that beauty sleep
Fraser. The Queen may need you in the morning and Chicago's scumbags
will be calling. I'll give you a lift home."
He picked his jacket up and started looking around for his keys.
Fraser remained in his seat but reached over and claimed the remote control.
"I thought I'd stay here tonight Ray. Turnbull has Diefenbaker
at his apartment. Seeing as we will need an early start tomorrow it would
appear unnecessary for me to go return to the consulate. I'll sleep on
the sofa, it's very comfortable."
"That's not a good idea Fraser. I want to watch more TV. The
noise would keep you awake. It's not too far to the consulate and I don't
"Oh I doubt it will keep me awake Ray. After all, I have been
known to sleep through a stampede of several thousand caribou outside
my igloo. I'm sure the TV, while rather more interesting to listen to,
will not keep me awake unduly."
Ray picked up Fraser's Stetson and handed it to him. Fraser firmly
lay it beside him and continued to undo his boots.
"You can't stay on the sofa seeing as I'll be lying on it watching
TV and you can't have my bed because I'll need it later."
Fraser moved to the chair alongside the sofa, indicating to Ray
that he could take the sofa.
"That's fine Ray, I'll just take the floor. Perfectly comfortable.
However I must admit to some confusion here. I thought you said you were
tired in which case watching more TV may seem unwise."
Ray's previous sulk abruptly returned. Ignoring Fraser he slammed his car keys down and took off his jacket. He glared at Fraser and stalked in to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. Fraser heard the sounds of fierce tooth brushing. Fraser observed that Ray could make even brushing his teeth a reflection of his mood. Still not saying a word he then fetched the blanket from his room and threw it at Fraser. Before he had a chance to take it off his head the bedroom door had slammed and Ray had disappeared into his bedroom.
Fraser sighed. Clearly his suspicion that Ray had not given up
his intention of confronting Jeffery Righton alone quite that easily
had been correct. For an undercover policeman, Ray was surprisingly bad
at acting sometimes.
Before settling down, Fraser put the car keys under the cushion of the sofa. It seemed petty but he would rather be petty than visiting Ray in jail for the next few years. The sofa was indeed comfortable and soon he was asleep.
Fraser was a deep sleeper but the crash from the bedroom a few
hours later would have woken a hibernating bear. Still reeling from the
rude awakening Fraser was in Ray's bedroom in seconds. Throwing the door
open he saw by the light from the window that the bed was empty. However
loud groaning noises were coming from the floor on the other side of
the bed. As he watched, Ray's head emerged from the floor as he stood
"Ray, what on earth happened?"
"Nothing" came the unsteady and sleepy reply.
"Well something broke the lamp and it didn't sound like nothing."
"I fell out of bed. Knocked the lamp. Go back to sleep."
Ray started to climb back into bed. As he did so the light caught
his naked torso, it was dripping with sweat. Looking more closely Fraser
could see his face didn't look much better.
"Do you frequently fall out of bed?"
"Yeah. What is this, the French Inquisition or something?. People fall out of bed all the time. Except Mounties that is who probably get taught how to sleep on a tightrope in their training."
"Ah, well actually Ray I think you will find it was the 'Spanish Inquisition' and that no, people do not fall out of their beds all the time. In fact it is quite unusual past a certain stage of childhood. The fact that you appear to have been sweating heavily and thrashing around in your sleep leads me to believe you may have been experiencing an exceptionally vivid nightmare. Perhaps brought on by this evening's discussion."
Ray suddenly appeared sad rather than angry. The fatigue was apparent in his voice, his previous animosity evaporated. He lay down, facing away from Fraser, pulling the covers around his neck..
"Well it's finished now so you can go back to sleep. Sorry for
Fraser was about to close the door when he hesitated. Quietly he said
"I can come and sleep in here if you like?"
"I don't need a baby sitter Fraser".
"I didn't say you did. I asked if you would like me to come and
sleep in here for the night".
There was silence. Fraser began to close the door when Ray stopped
"I might wake you up."
"I'm a deep sleeper."
"Stella used to mind."
"I'm not Stella."
Fraser took the silence to be assent. He fetched the blanket
from the sofa and climbed onto the other side of the bed behind Ray.
He briefly considered moving closer to him but Ray's refusal to be comforted
earlier made him wary of trying to touch him.
Reluctantly he remained where he was. Just as Fraser was drifting off to sleep, Ray's voice dragged
him back to consciousness.
"You don't trust me Fraser. You wanted to stay because you thought
I'd do something stupid."
Immediately Fraser thought of the car keys hidden under the sofa cushions. He almost cringed with guilt. Thinking desperately of a way to justify himself he propped his head up, leaning on his hand, trying to see Ray's face in the darkness.
"I'm sorry Ray. I do trust
you, but you do have a tendency to go off half cocked and this is just
too important to take that risk. If you did do something stupid as you
say, I would always feel that I should have done something. I can't explain
well but please don't take it as an insult."
Silence again. The sound of their breathing the only noise at
"It wasn't that you know. I just didn't want you to see this.
These nightmares I have. Drove Stella nuts and it's kinda embarrassing."
Fraser lay back down. Pulling
the blankets back around him. "That's
why I go to bed early every night Ray. So that when the occasion demands
that I can stay up all night with you."
Ray snorted. "Yeah right. And the queen mother's a hundred years
young. Goodnight Fraser."
Fraser woke first and went straight to the sofa to remove the
car keys from where he had hidden them. Embarrassed at himself he went
to check on Ray. He was sound asleep and didn't seem to have moved since
he fell asleep the night before. Fraser was hoping that the good night's
sleep may have allowed him to prepared himself for the day's events.
After yesterdays almost continual bickering he was hoping for a ceasefire.
Unfortunately this wasn't to be the case. Ray woke up annoyed. Stayed annoyed, and seemed to be intent on annoying everyone around him, in this case Fraser.
After having put up with complaints about breakfast, about tidying
up last night's dinner, traffic and every other thing he could think
of. Fraser was quite happy to leave Ray in the car while he went to interview
The interview was short and unpleasant. Mrs Ross was friendly but seemed unconcerned by the circumstances which led to the interview. James was a sullen, suspicious teenager, his attitude towards police unhelpful. Even his clothing seemed defiant. Although Fraser knew that absurdly baggy trousers and shirts were extremely fashionable in this age group, the slovenly effect of the clothing seemed even more a rejection of society than most children this age seemed to manage. Fraser couldn't help but wonder how much of this was due to Jeffery Righton and the lack of police action when he filed charges. His story had been taken, filed and dated but very little actual investigation had been the result. There were no witnesses, no physical evidence and with no previous convictions the investigating officers had appeared to give up before they even began. It was clearly very painful for the child to relay details of the offenses. The reason why Ray had refused to be present for the interview soon became all too clear.
When Fraser had thanked James and his mother he set off back to the car. He was therefore somewhat surprised when James ran to catch up with him. For some reason the insolent attitude suddenly seemed to have been dropped. The teenager standing before Fraser appeared to become a child and Fraser found himself wondering what Ray would have been like at this age. James voice was anxious but hopeful.
"You really going to do something about it?"
"I assure you this man will be punished to the full extent of the law. I promise you that, and I never break my promises."
James stared at Fraser, clearly unsure of how to he wanted to proceed.
"So you believe me?"
The question shocked Fraser. It hadn't occurred to him that people wouldn't believe James. Ray's reluctance to tell his parents of his assault became all the more justifiable. Fraser felt a compelling need to convince James that he did indeed believe him, possibly the first adult to do so.
"Absolutely I believe you. You have been the victim of a serious offence. It is my job and my duty to ensure the perpetrator of that crime is punished, and to ensure that he has no opportunity to offend again"
James looked down at his feet and was quiet for a few seconds. His next words were spoken so quietly that Fraser had to bend down to hear them.
"If you take me there I'll show you."
"Show me what exactly?"
"Where he keeps his pictures."
This was the first time photographs had been mentioned.
"Why didn't you mention this before?"
"I didn't trust those policemen, they didn't believe me. I trust you. Take me and I'll show you."
Fraser tried to persuade him to describe to him where the alleged
photographs were but he refused to say. He claimed they were in Jeffery
Righton's office but would not elaborate further.
After a quick consultation with Ray they decided to take him.
They were both uncomfortable about his accompanying them on what was
still official police business but there seemed very little chance of
persuading him otherwise. So far Jeffery Righton had never been violent
so the risk was minimal and they had no other evidence. Fraser was disappointed
but not surprised that his mother didn't appear too interested. It was clear that she did not consider
the accusations serious. Five
minutes later they were on their way with James in the back of the car.
The drive to the camp was quiet. Fraser was unwilling to discuss the case further with either Ray or the child in the others presence.
Both Ray and James were quiet, apparently lost in their memories.
It was about an hour's drive away. Ray knew the direction generally
and James was able to give them directions when they were close. When
they entered the camp property Ray broke the silence. Having been quiet
the whole journey he started to make inane comments about the buildings
and the surroundings but seemed to be having trouble remembering the
words. Not really being able to follow the blithering, Fraser ignored
him and Ray soon lapsed back into silence.
When they had parked the car in the designated visitor's area Fraser and Ray got out..
Their passenger stayed in the car upon request. Fraser went to
Ray's side of the car and patted his back, leaving his arm around his
shoulder he spoke gently.
"Are you okay Ray? You don't have to do this."
"Yes I do Fraser. I have to see him. In my mind he's like a monster, the mother of all bogeymen. It's like he's everything that I ever closed my eyes to in a movie. I want to see he's just a person. Just a sad, perverted, mean old guy who can't hurt me any more."
"That's exactly what he is Ray.
"I know. Just want...you know.
Ray smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. Standing up straight he opened the car door.
"I know Fraser. Thanks."
Together with James they set off towards what appeared to be the main reception building, each one of them wrapped in a world of their own nervous anticipation.
The center's building was bright and clean. It showed pictures of happy children, helpful counselors
having fun on every wall. In other circumstances Fraser would have described
the atmosphere as 'happy' but his purpose in the building painted it
all gray in his mind.
After asking a couple of passing children the way to his office,
they soon found themselves outside a big wooden door. The name 'Jeffery
Righton' hung on it, painted by some childish hand.
Fraser looked at Ray. His face was ashen and from the way he
was holding himself, he guessed he was very close to meeting his breakfast
again. After a quick glance at Fraser, Ray took a deep breath and knocked
firmly and loudly on the door.
The door was opened by Jeffery Righton. His initial welcoming
smile faded as he identified James Ross. He waved them into the room
and closed the door behind him.
"Why do I get the feeling this is not going to be a pleasant social call?"
Fraser was relieved to see Ray was giving nothing away. He may
not be able to lie effectively to his friends and family but when he
needed to he could act with the best of them. His voice was confident and of an official tone.
"This is not a pleasant social call because child abuse is not
a pleasant social thing to do Mr Righton."
"And who might you be and why are you here?"
Ray pulled out his badge and handed it to him.
"Detective Ray Vecchio, Chicago PD. This is Constable Benton
Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We're here to ask you some
questions about allegations made against you by this child, James Ross."
At this James stepped forward from his position by the door,
his anger and eagerness to confront Righton obvious in his demeanor.
"I'm sure I have answered these questions many times over. It
would seem unnecessary for you to keep wasting my time unless you actually
have something new to ask me."
Jeffery Righton indicated for them to sit in some chairs in front
of his desk. As they sat down James seemed to have been quiet for as
long as he could manage.
"You know. You know what you did, you fucker. I know where they are. The pictures are in your desk. I've seen them you bastard."
Fraser turned to James and attempted to calm him. He would have liked to remove him from the room but much as Ray appeared to have the situation under control, he didn't want to leave him. He spoke quietly but firmly into his ear, trying to reassure him by holding his shoulder.
"James. I am trying to
help you. We will get those photographs
but your shouting makes it more difficult for us to do so. Please be quiet and give us a chance. Trust me, we will see justice done."
The child was quiet at this. He turned back and sunk into a chair by the door. Sulking, he seemed prepared to listen.
Jeffery Righton smiled. The smile was a smile that Fraser felt
could only reflect cold and selfish pleasure. It sent a shiver up his
spine. Ray smirked back at him. His cool faade was firmly in place.
"It seems you may have something to show us Mr Righton."
"I believe I do Detective Vecchio. But seeing as you don't have
a warrant I will show you the photographs of my own choosing. I believe
you will find them most interesting and informative. They all say that
photographs can capture those magic moments."
He bent down and started rummaging in his drawer. He found a
set of keys, which appeared to unlock some kind of inner drawer. Fraser
was uneasy. He had no reason to co-operate with them and certainly no
reason to show them evidence of his offenses. Before he had time to consolidate these doubts into actions
Jeffery Righton sat up, a few photographs in hand.
He handed some to Ray and some to Fraser. Fraser glanced briefly at them. They didn't seem particularly offensive. A young blonde boy standing naked in a room. His hair was wet and a towel was on the floor by his feet. Were it not for the tears which were apparent on his face and the obvious discomfort with his nudity, Fraser would probably thought nothing of the photograph. He guessed the child's age to be about six. There was something about the face which struck him as familiar, it was just coming to him when he turned to look at Ray.
The familiar look on the child's face was instantly no longer
a mystery. Ray sat frozen in his chair. The color had drained from his
face and he seemed to be in a state of shock.. He stared at the photographs
as if he couldn't look away. As Fraser watched his hands began to shake
and the photographs fluttered to the floor.
"Bring back some memories Ray? You always were a lovely child.
Skinny, blonde, small for your age. I really was very fond of you. So
fond of you in fact that my mother called yesterday. It seems your mother
was so proud of your learning to swim that she phoned my mother as she
thought I might be interested. Mentioned
too that you worked undercover for the Chicago PD and that your best
friend and partner was a Mountie. Mother's, so proud aren't they?"
Ray snapped out of his shock. He jumped to his feet and drew
his gun. Pointing it directly at Righton's head he whispered.
"Shut up". But Righton didn't.
"Still like smarties and lollipops Ray?. You were so easy to
buy and so worried for your parents. Did you really think I'd hurt them?
Funny, the things that children believe. You looked so pretty when you
cried, really did things to me."
"I SAID SHUT UP!"
Ray's arm was extended towards Righton, his gun pointed directly at his head. His hand was shaking violently, a point Fraser was sure Ray was aware of but evidently unable to stop.
"You could always arrest me and take me to the station. I've got such stories to tell and a policeman would be a star witness. Of course I don't know how your mother would take the news once it got out. Parents always feel so guilty about these things."
Fraser was suddenly hit by the realization that Righton had no intention of ever going to jail, it appeared he feared death less than the prospect of incarceration. It was altogether too possible that Ray was going to be a victim of Righton's a second time over but this time the sentence he would serve would be for murder.
Fraser watched Ray. Righton's recognition of him had been a shock. The threat of blackmail he was completely unprepared for.
Other than his gun hand Ray was still and his body rigid. His
face was blank, reflecting nothing but Fraser did not take this as a
good sign. At this point anger and rage would have been reassuring. Silence
"Of course we could start with the photographs as evidence. I've
got more. I'm sure the people at your precinct will understand. It wasn't
your fault, you were a victim of a crime after all. I'm sure I can recall
the details, maybe your mountie friend would like to hear them. After
all, I do have a statement to make."
Ray started to lower his gun, the fight going out of him. Fraser recognized the labored breathing as being indicative of tears.
Just as the tears started to roll down his face the gun came
up but now the look was not angry it was desperate.
"Fraser get out of here."
"That's probably not a good idea."
"I didn't want you to hear this. I asked you not to come. If you trust me then get out. Now."
Bob Fraser coughed in the corner behinds Ray's desk, making his presence known.
"He's right you know son, if you trust him, you'll trust him
to do the right thing. You decide which you are, partner or keeper."
It was now Fraser's turn to sit frozen. His mind was reeling.
He trusted Ray, well he wanted to trust Ray but he was pointing a gun
at Righton's head. He looked at the shaking hand, the pale face and the
sheen of sweat that covered his forehead. He stood up.
"I trust you Ray."
Just then he felt the distinct cold of the barrel of a gun pressed against his neck.
"Oh no. I think you'll stay."
The gun pushed him back to his chair where he sat, rigid. James Ross's voice was close to his ear but loud enough for both Ray and Righton to hear.
"I think you'll stay and hear what he did. Hear how it hurts,
what he did to me. No-one believed me. I told them and I told them but
no-one believed me."
James' voice began to crack, his hand also shaking the gun at Fraser's neck.
"There's no evidence they said but they didn't even look. Nobody believed me so they didn't ask.
They didn't ask anyone, just told me to they were doing what they could.
Now you can hear it. Hear it from
Righton didn't appear alarmed by the turn of events. If anything
he took at as an invitation to resume his callous confession. Fraser
was now sure that Righton had no intention of surviving this encounter.
Ray was trapped. The lack of protest from him spoke volumes.
Fraser watched in dismay as a cruel smile crept across Righton's face.
His enjoyment in the moment and the memory was in no doubt.
"You tasted so good. So small and so sweet. You're not going to tell anyone are you Ray?"
This last question seemed to spur Ray into action. A slow sneer
moved across his face. The look was ugly. Not one Fraser wanted to see
ever again on his face. Fraser felt the tension wash out of him as Ray
spoke. He almost wanted to cry with relief.
"Jeffery Righton you are under arrest for sexual assault of a
minor. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be taken
and used in evidence against you. You have the right to an attorney,
if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you."
Reaching behind him, he removed the handcuffs from his jeans.
Bob Fraser in the corner nodded his approval and promptly vanished.
The noise was incredible. Both Ray and Fraser jumped, their hands
going to their ears and their bodies ducking automatically. Jeffery Righton
fell across his desk, the hole in the back of his head making it very
clear there was no need to rush for an ambulance.
The sound of soft crying began and Fraser turned to see James Ross drop the gun. He sat himself back in his chair and buried his face. Fraser used his handkerchief to remove the gun from his reach and put the safety on, mentally chastising himself for not seeing the gun before this tragedy occurred.
Ray stood still, gun and handcuffs in hand staring at the body
lying on the desk. Fraser gently removed the handcuffs from his grasp
and quickly cuffed Ross to the chair.
He could hear the sound of running footsteps up the hall, an
unknown woman burst in a promptly started to scream. A second woman not
far behind blinked at them and then ran. Fraser knew the police would
be on their way.
Ray had still not moved. The tears still wet on his face, he
had made no attempt to dry them. Fraser moved between him and the body
and put his arms round him. Hugging him tightly he whispered
"It's over Ray. This time it really is over."
He continued to hold him for a few more moments until he felt
Ray struggle against his embrace. Stepping
back he started looking for something on the floor.
"The photographs Fraser. Find the photographs."
Fraser immediately began to look. There were the ones from earlier scattered on the floor. He quickly picked them up and put them in his pocket. Moving around to the front of this desk he moved his hand around the area that had the 'secret drawer'. There was another pile of photographs there. Flicking through he swallowed down his nausea at some of the pictures. It seemed Righton had been escalating in the perversity of his tastes since he was younger. James Ross featured prominently, a fact that would be helpful in his defense.
When Fraser stood up Ray was watching him. Fraser was taken aback by the expression on his face, something of a mixture between hurt and betrayal. At first he didn't understand what had caused such a look but as Ray's eyes flicked down to the photographs in Fraser's hands he realized the problem.
Fraser soon discovered it was surprisingly easy to break the
law. Phrases such as 'knowingly
suppressing evidence' and 'contaminating the crime scene' meant nothing
to him in the face of Ray's pain. He
believed in the pursuit of justice because it was right and just. It was not right to put Ray through
the trauma of a trial and a rough kind of justice had already been served. Putting the photographs in his pocket
he was slightly disappointed that Ray apparently thought he would do
It took several hours sort out the mess. It was awkward explaining
exactly how Fraser and Ray had got involved with the case but seeing
as the events leading to the shooting were not in contention no-one seemed
intent on questioning the matter further. After seeing the body removed
and James Ross taken into custody Fraser and Ray headed for the car.
The events of the morning had taken their toll and both were very quiet.
Before starting up the car Ray turned to Fraser.
"It could've been me you know. I could've killed him."
"Yes you could have Ray but you wouldn't have. Not ever."
"How do you know?"
Fraser smiled at Ray and patted him on the shoulder.
"Because you're stronger than that."
Ray started the car and began to head the car back down the drive
"So do I get a mountie badge or something?"