With Open Eyes
By Sharron Ibbitson
Feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: Probably NC-17 for some naughty words and violence, but I'd say a 15 in Britain.
Please feel free to archive at Kari's or Hexwood, anywhere else please ask first.
This is dedicated to my DS mate Sasha, who is suffering from severe RayK withdrawal due to going away to Uni! But she has been no end of help to me, when I have been cursed by writers block! To her and every one else that has been nagging me to hurry up and write this, I'm really sorry for the delay in this piece! Also many thanks to Mary Ann Robinson, who also talked me into hurrying this along a bit!!
None of these characters belong to me, they are the property of Alliance, I promise to return them, after I've borrowed Ray Kowalski for a couple of weeks.
Thanks to Adia for the story title and for the original beta reading.
Ray walked down the stairs to the squad room. He sat down heavily onto his chair by his desk. It had been a very tough week. He had just wrapped up a murder investigation that had involved children being killed. The case was going to court early the next month, and Ray was the 'star' witness. He had seen the suspect loom over the child; he hadn't been able to do anything because the man had tied him up. He had then murdered the child right in front of Ray. He swallowed down the bile rising in his throat, just from the thought of it. Despite the fact that it was now two in the morning, he still had some paperwork left to do, and he wanted to get it out of the way as soon as he could, so that he could put the case behind him. Fraser hadn't been made aware of all the details of the case, but had offered to stay behind to help, but Ray had wanted to be alone, so he had declined the offer. The squadroom was empty apart from a few detectives just finishing off their own cases. The holding cells were even void of prisoners. Ray sighed then picked up the manila folder resting on his desk and began filling out some forms. He found he had trouble concentrating so he walked over to the holding cells to lie down on one of the benches. He rested his arm across his face shielding his eyes.
Early the next morning Frannie arrived at work, expecting to see Ray sitting at his desk, she was concerned when he wasn't there. Then she remembered another incident a few months ago and decided to check the cells. She breathed a sigh of relief when she found him lightly dozing. She walked off to fetch him a cup of strong coffee, and then went straight back to the cells. She gently shook him awake, and was shocked when he startled and flinched away. He didn't seem to register who it was at first. Then he took a deep breath.
"Hey Ray, I brought you some coffee" she told him and handed him the steaming cup.
"Thanks Frannie" he told her, accepting the mug and standing up, together they walked back across to his desk.
"Ray are you gonna be all right?" she asked with genuine concern.
"Yeah I'll be fine, why wouldn't I be?"
"It's just with this case, and what you saw and everything, well if you ever need to talk you know where I am" she told him. He looked up at her, and saw nothing but worry in her eyes.
"Thanks Frannie. I'm fine; I do appreciate the concern. I have to talk to a shrink anyway, but thank you" he told her with a grin as he pecked her on the cheek. She smiled and left to sit at her own desk, hiding her grin behind her computer screen., she was genuinely worried about Ray. Fraser had told her what had happened vaguely, and Welsh had told her how Ray had been forced to watch the child being killed savagely. She didn't think she could handle it herself. She once more looked across at Ray, and saw that he was trying to concentrate on a file. He looked up and met her gaze, she smiled at him and he weakly repeated the gesture. He then stood up, grabbing his coat, and walked out of the precinct. Frannie decided to follow him. She quietly climbed into her car and followed Ray from a distance. He drove to the consulate, but didn't exit the car. He just sat outside. She watched him in concern. He stared out of the window for some time before actually getting out of the car and climbing up the consulate steps. Frannie remained in her car, until half an hour later Ray once again emerged from the building, and began walking towards his car. She watched as his attention was drawn to across the street.
"Hey Vecchio" someone shouted from across the road, Frannie immediately saw Ray instinctively checking his weapon before crossing the road. Ray walked across to the other man. Frannie couldn't hear what was being said so she jumped out of her car and stood close enough to hear the conversation, but far away enough so that Ray didn't notice her.
"I'm telling you man, they're gonna get ya" the man told Ray.
"Yeah right, look Lou, they don't even know me" Ray replied.
"Yeah? Well what about Hedges, he was one of them. You busted him yesterday. They're so pissed with you" Lou informed Ray; Frannie took in a deep breath.
"Yeah so? What they gonna do about it?"
"You know what they're gonna do, just don't let it happen hey Ray"
"Yeah right. Thanks man. I guess I owe you big this time" Ray replied as he pulled out his wallet, but Lou stopped him.
"Na man. This one's on the house" Lou insisted, which in it's self got Ray concerned. They both shook hands, before Lou went on his way. Ray kicked a nearby lamppost hard, in frustration before walking back to his car. When he got back to his car, he was shocked to see Frannie leaning against it.
"Frannie what are you doing here?" he asked her.
"I was worried about you so I followed you here from the precinct. I heard what that guy just said" Ray turned away at this point "You have to tell the lieutenant"
"No, no way" Ray replied. "Besides it's nothing"
"Yes it is. He just told you that they are trying to kill you"
"Look Frannie just leave it okay?! I can handle it" Ray told her angrily.
"No Ray, I will not leave it. If you haven't spoken to Welsh by the end of the day, then I will. Understand?!" Frannie told him just as heatedly, before she stormed off to her car. Ray climbed into his car, and just sat there for a few moments before pulling off. He then drove straight back to the precinct. When he arrived there he found Fraser sitting at his desk.
"Hello Ray. Are you all right?" Fraser asked as soon as he saw Ray's pale face.
"Yes I'm fine, why do you ask? Where's Frannie?"
"I only asked because you looked pale. Francesca is in the lieutenant's office" Fraser replied. Ray didn't say anything, but he walked straight across to Welsh's office, and entered without knocking.
"Frannie I need to speak with you" he said through clenched teeth.
"Detective have you ever heard of knocking?" Welsh asked in confusion.
"Sorry sir, Frannie come on"
"Why's that Ray? Worried about what I'm gonna say?" Frannie said almost daring Ray to comment.
"Please Frannie don't do this to me" Ray told her, in a pleading voice that she had never heard him use before. She thought that he was actually going to cry.
"Excuse me for interrupting, but what the hell is going on here?" Welsh asked loudly.
"Ray I have to tell him" Frannie told Ray hoping for his forgiveness. "Sir, Ray's life is in danger" she told him simply, which immediately got Welsh's attention.
"Go on Ms Vecchio" he prompted and she went on to tell him the whole story, while Ray remained silent throughout.
"You need protection" Welsh told him, and Ray immediately began shaking his head "No arguments. You are not going anywhere alone, even if you have to move into a safe house"
"Sir, I really don't think that this is necessary" Ray told him, really not wanting his personal space to be invaded.
"Yeah well I do, and I'm still the boss around here, so what I say goes. Got that detective?"
"Yes sir" Ray responded as he walked out the office, giving Frannie a foul look on his way out.
"Sir I'm really worried about him" Frannie told Welsh.
"Why? We'll look out for him" Welsh told her.
"I don't just mean physically. I mean emotionally. He's been really down after this kiddie case, I'm just kinda worried about him, you know that he'll do something stupid"
"What makes you think that?"
"He's been really quiet and withdrawn. He's hardly said a word to me. What with seeing the kid murdered, busting the guy, being beaten up and then this death threat thing, I think it might be enough to send him over the edge."
"I'm sure Fraser will keep an eye on him" Welsh told her gently. She nodded before leaving.
She walked out of the office, and went straight across to Ray and Fraser. She placed her hand on Ray's shoulder
"Hey bro" she said gently.
"Hey Frannie. Thanks a lot" Ray replied without the anger he desired.
"I'm sorry, but I had to say something or I'd never of forgiven myself in anything had happened" Fraser looked in surprise.
"Pardon me for interrupting, but is there something going on that I should know about?"
"No" "Yes!" Frannie and Ray said simultaneously.
"Someone's trying to kill Ray" Frannie told him, and Ray leapt up and walked out of the precinct. Fraser looked up in alarm before following his friend. He soon caught up with him, just as Ray was climbing into his jet black GTO. Fraser climbed into the car besides Ray, and they sat there in silence for a few moments. Fraser looked at Ray, and saw that he wasn't about to speak so he broke the silence himself.
"Would you like to talk about it?"
"Not really Fraser no" Ray replied curtly.
"Ray, will you please tell me what is going on? What was Frannie saying about a child case?" Ray sighed and thumbed his eyebrow.
"A few days a go I was drafted into a kiddie case. Kids were getting murdered. Not normally our jurisdiction, but I didn't ask any questions. Anyway I cornered the suspect in a warehouse, but he pulled a gun on me. He fired and he hit me here" Ray said quietly indicating his left shoulder "I was wearing my vest, but the force pushed me down and I whacked my head on the wall" he continued showing Fraser an ugly purple bruise on his right temple. "When I came round I was gagged and tied up. He had this kid up against a wall. The kid was no more than five, and the bastard was holding a knife to the kid's throat. He didn't scream or nothing, but everytime I close my eyes I see the look of the kid's face as that, that scum slashed his throat. Anyway he's now under lock and key" Ray concluded. Fraser closed his eyes, although he had known about the case, he hadn't been told any details.
"I'm sorry Ray, I had no idea. I didn't realise" Fraser muttered as he placed his hand on his partner's shoulder. "But it doesn't explain why Francesca seems to think that your life is in danger" Fraser continued with puzzlement clear on his face.
"Well Hedges, the suspect that I apprehended turns out to be a member of a very powerful gang, and they are a little bit upset that I arrested him"
"Ah now I understand. Well what did the lieutenant suggest that you do?"
"He wants me to be under guard and in a safe house" Ray replied downheartedly.
"I take it that you aren't enthusiastic about the idea"
"Do you think that he'd allow me to make a suggestion?"
"Depends on what the suggestion is"
"What if I were to suggest that I guard you. You could stay at the consulate with me, or at one of our safe houses. I'd be with you at all times" Fraser explained.
"That could work. Would you be willing to do that for me?" Ray asked in surprise.
"Of course Ray" Fraser replied honestly and together they climbed out of the car and walked back into the precinct to put the suggestion to Welsh.
Ray felt as though everybody was watching him as he walked through the precinct, if they were it was only in concern. He just walked straight into Welsh's office with Fraser in tow. Welsh looked up.
"Can I help you detective?" he asked gently. His detective looked very pale and not at all like himself. Rather than replying himself Ray looked at Fraser who immediately stepped in to help him.
"Sir, Ray and Frannie have informed of Ray's current situation and I was wondering if you would be open to a suggestion"
"Go on constable"
"Well I believe that Ray needs to be protected, but he is unhappy with the arrangements that he has been offered. I was hoping that you would allow him to stay with me at consulate by night and then I'll stay by his side all day"
"But you don't even carry a weapon"
"No sir I do not, but I could still offer protection to Ray. If it would make you happier you could place armed officer outside the consulate at night, after all It is extremely unlikely that Ray would be in any danger in the Police station during the day" Fraser reasoned, and Ray noticed Welsh nodding, in agreement.
"Okay constable, but there is to be an armed guard outside the consulate at night, happy detective?" Welsh responded.
"Ecstatic sir" Ray replied sarcastically. They all knew that he wouldn't be happy until all of this was over, but at least it was a better alternative.
That night Ray drove Fraser back to the consulate.
"I'll drop you off here, I'll go and collect my things, then meet you back here in a half hour" Ray told him.
"No, I really think that I should come with you" Fraser told him and after much discussion Ray agreed.
They drove in silence to Ray's apartment block. Ray's landlady greeted Ray with a warm smile in the hall. Fraser nodded his greeting and politely waited outside Ray's apartment whilst he packed some things together. The landlady stood and spoke with him for a few moments, while Ray was packing his things together.
"Is everything all right?" she asked gently.
"Sorry mame?" Fraser asked not totally understanding what she meant.
"Is Ray okay? He's such a nice young man, I hope that everything is all right" she explained.
"Oh yes, Ray is fine. He's just coming to stay with me for a couple of day's while we look into some lines of enquiry." Fraser told her.
"But he will be coming back won't he?" she asked in concern.
"Yes, I'm sure he'll be back as soon as the investigation is over."
"Yes a rather traumatic case for Ray I'm afraid, but he'll be back soon enough" The lady nodded, and at this point Ray came out of his front door, locking it tightly behind him.
"You take care young man. It'll seem strange not hearing the strange shuffling in rhythm at night for a few days" she told him gently as she lightly caressed his face, taking Ray completely by surprise.
"Thank you Mrs Langley" he told her and was amazed when she pulled him into a hug. "I'll see ya soon" he promised before they once again set off to the consulate.
They arrived at the consulate just as Huey and Dewey were pulling up outside. The duck boys explained that they were the guards for the night, and refused to budge even though tried very hard to get them to just forget it and go home. Thatcher took Ray completely by surprise by being very nice to him.
"Hello Detective Vecchio, or may I call you Ray?"
"Er, yeah sure" he replied shocked.
"Would you like me to show you to your quarters for the next few days?" she asked as she took him by the arm. "This is your room, it's nothing special but it has everything you'll be needing" she told him.
"Thank you Inspector" he told her and his eyes enforced the meaning of his words. She nodded once before leaving him to his privacy. He sat on the bed and rubbed his hands across his face, before leaning back into the soft comfort of the bed and lying fully back. His eyes slid shut and before he knew it he was asleep.
Thatcher walked back to Fraser's office. She stood in the doorway and coughed loudly to attract his attention. He looked up.
"Where's Ray?" he asked concerned.
"He's asleep upstairs. I know that I don't really know him or anything, but is he going to be all right?" she asked with genuine worry.
"I hope so" was all Fraser said in response.
It seemed to be forever before Ray rejoined Fraser in his office, and when he did he was very quiet and withdrawn. He had barely said a word in hours and Fraser was beginning to get very worried.
"Ray, are you okay?" he asked after the room had been silent for longer than he could bear. Ray didn't answer straight away, so he repeated the question.
"Huh?" Ray replied shaking his head to bring himself out of his reverie.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine Frase. I'm good, I'm great" he answered trying to convince himself as much as Fraser.
"If you want we could go down to the precinct?" Fraser asked hoping to make Ray feel better.
"No it's okay, I don't mind staying here with you" Ray replied honestly. This got Fraser even more concerned; he looked closely at his friend. He saw the dark patches under Ray's eyes, showing lack of sleep and worry. Even if he wouldn't admit it, Ray was worried by the situation, not that he could blame him, and in the same situation he would be very worried himself. He just couldn't stand to see his friend self-destruct; he was so quiet it was almost scary. By three in the afternoon Fraser could take it no more, he heaved a sigh, giving up on his paperwork, he grabbed Ray by the arm and was uncharacteristically forceful.
"Come on, we're going to go and get something to eat" he told the detective.
"Fraser I'm not all that hungry" Ray replied.
"I don't care you have got to eat" Fraser told him. Ray shrugged and pulled on his coat. Ray fished out his car keys from his pocket, and unlocked the car. They both climbed in.
"Where to?" Ray asked quietly.
"McGregor's?" Fraser questioned, hoping that his friend would accept, Ray simply nodded and kept driving. The journey passed in silence and Fraser's concern only grew more. His attention kept being drawn to the car following them, the two officers sent to protect Ray. Huey and Dewey had been relieved earlier in the day. Fraser had been quite surprised by the concern of Ray's fellow officers. They had been quite loath to leave their post at Ray's side, but both were exhausted. Fraser was taken out of his reverie by the car pulling to a stop.
"We're here" Ray announced. "You go in and get us a seat, and I'll go and park up" Ray told his friend. Fraser shook his head.
"No way, I'm not leaving you on your own" Fraser told him.
"I'm not on my own, I have those two" Ray explained pointing at the car behind. Fraser had to admit he had a point, so he climbed out of the car, still unsure but wanting to give Ray the benefit of the doubt. He went inside the restaurant and organised a table for himself and Ray.
Meanwhile Ray had just managed to find a parking space, he reversed in perfectly, and he then locked up the car. The two detectives guarding him hooted their horn as they drove past; they were forced to park further in the car park. Ray waved and started walking towards the restaurant, he never stood a chance as he was hit hard on the head and his World turned to black.
Fraser had been sitting in the restaurant for over ten minutes and there was still no sign of Ray, he stood up to see if he had had trouble parking, his alarm was elevated when he saw the two Police officers walking into the restaurant, and there was still no sign of Ray. They looked across at Fraser in confusion, surprised to find their charge was absent. As soon as he saw them he ran out to the car park. Officers Gating and Keatly followed closely behind. He saw Ray's car, and on further investigation found a small pool of blood about three metres away from the car. Fraser looked worriedly, and Gating immediately rang for backup. When the station heard what was going on, the car park was swarming with Detectives from the 27th. Welsh was among the first to arrive. He approached Fraser straight away.
"Well what happened?" he asked with frustration and concern evident in his voice.
"We were just going to get something to eat. Ray told me to go get a seat whilst he parked the car. I was unsure but he said he'd be okay because officers Gating and Keatly were with him. Anyway after ten minutes I got worried, went to investigate, and found his car and blood" Fraser informed him in a lifeless monotone. Welsh shook his head in concern.
"Any witnesses?" he questioned after a while.
"No one saw a thing, wouldn't you know it?" Huey replied, most police officers were often frustrated by the public's lack of co-operation in most cases, it was often found that 'nobody' ever saw anything, which sometimes hindered the time that cases took to be solved. Welsh sighed in frustration. He knew that if they didn't manage to find Ray within the first twenty-four hours of going missing, then his chances of survival would be greatly narrowed. Welsh rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, hoping to abate the headache that he could already feel coming on.
"How many units have we got in the area?" He asked eventually. Huey was silent for a minute as he thought.
"Twenty two within four miles, brought in from all divisions" he replied after a short while. Welsh nodded, the ordered Huey to issue a description of the car to all of the units. They remained at the scene for the next half an hour, collecting evidence, then most officers cleared out and went back to the station to file reports, make a statement to the press and inform the other officers. Welsh suddenly realised that Frannie hadn't even been told, he kicked himself, as he realised that she had been worried originally.
"Sir, sir" a young beat cop called to Welsh.
"What?" Welsh snapped having totally lost his patience.
"We've found him sir"
"Just over there. It looks like he's been mugged or something', took quite a knock to the head" the cop replied. He soon discovered that he had lost his audience as the entire 27th precinct was keen to see Ray for themselves. Ray was sitting inside a squad car with his legs dangling to the ground besides the car. He had his eyes closed, and a paramedic was pressing a pressure bandage against a gaping wound on the back of Ray's head. A young man sat hand cuffed to a nearby officer, after apparently being knocked out by Ray. Fraser was standing in front of Ray waiting for the medic to finish up, so that he could talk to Ray himself, Welsh approached and took his place next to Fraser. Eventually the medic moved away to prepare to take Ray to hospital. Fraser and Welsh both went to their friend quietly. Ray eyes opened slowly, blinking rapidly and trying to focus.
"What happened?" Welsh asked bluntly.
"Guy jumped me" Ray replied, equally short, and sounding very unlike himself. Welsh wanted to find out more, but the medic was once again beside the detective easing him up and walking slowly towards the ambulance to have his head wound looked at. Welsh and Fraser both moved to a squad car to follow behind the ambulance. Fraser didn't utter a word as Welsh drove most of the journey above the speed limit, cutting through various traffic signals on the way. The young officer in the back remained quiet throughout the journey, until the tension got o him.
"At least it appears to be only a random mugging" the kid spoke up, Welsh nodding realising that the young cop had no idea about the current situation. Eventually they pulled into the hospital car park and the kid took the wheel and Fraser and Welsh climbed out and headed towards the ER. He went straight upto the nearest doctor, whilst Ben hung in the background keen to find out all he could. Welsh was told to take a seat, so the two friends went to sit down to wait for news.
After an hour a doctor came over to talk to them.
"Are you waiting for Detective Vecchio?" Both men rose to their feet and nodded in anticipation. "Mr Vecchio suffered quite a blow to the head, but he was very lucky. He managed to escape with a mild concussion. He'll have a headache for a couple of days, however I'm fairly happy to discharge him as long as he's not left on his own. He has to be woken up at least every four hours and should avoid caffeine. Keep meals light for a couple of days. Mild dizziness is to be expected, but any severe disorientation, confusion or bad headaches, don't hesitate to bring him back here, is this okay?" Fraser nodded immediately keen to get his friend home.
Ray looked frighteningly pale by the time Fraser and Welsh had got him home. All of his usual energy had deserted him as he had received the blow to the head. Fraser headed straight to the kitchen, whilst Welsh gently lowered Ray onto the couch. Fraser returned moments later with a glass of cold water in one hand and Ray's pill bottle in the other. Ray shook his head as Fraser offered him the tablet.
"No I can't think when I take them" he whispered.
"That's good because you don't need to think, you need to sleep" Welsh told the younger man. Ray decided that he didn't have the energy to argue, so he simply resigned himself to giving in. He downed the pills and half the glass of water then Welsh took him under the arms and led him to the bedroom where he removed his shoes and shirt and pushed him under the covers. Ray was almost instantly asleep. Welsh noted the time and went to sit back on the sofa with Fraser.
"Is he okay?" Fraser asked, Welsh nodded.
"Yeah I think he'll be just fine. So constable do you think it was a random mugging, or something else?" Welsh asked, and they both knew what the something else was.
"I don't know, both are possible, has the suspect been questioned?"
"Yeah, but he insists that it was random, but he wouldn't say otherwise, cos then the beef would go up to attempted murder, and on a cop no less"
"Well maybe we should speak to Ray when he wakes up"
"Yeah well we have to wake him up in four hours anyway, but I'd rather let him go back to sleep afterwards" Welsh replied. He himself felt extremely paternal to the younger man. The two men fell back into silence. Both lost in their own thoughts, and both determined to protect their friend, whatever the cost.
It was some hours before Welsh deemed Ray fit enough to answer some questions. He helped the younger man into the living room and sat him down between himself and Fraser. He handed Ray his pain killers immediately, before getting himself and Fraser some mineral water.
"So what can you tell us?" he asked Ray, deciding to cut with the chase.
"Not much, sir. I was just parking the car, when I was hit over the head by something heavy. The next thing I know I wake up round the corner with some bloke looming over me. My gun was gone and he pulled a knife. He said something about killing me. He knew my name, then I just grasped around till I found something heavy enough to whack him with. Next thing I know the cavalry have arrived and I'm seeing stars." Welsh nodded thoughtfully.
"Well it isn't much, but if he knew your name then at least it proves that it wasn't a random thing" the lieutenant continued.
"So what happens now?" Fraser asked, his concern evident in his voice.
"One of us stays with Ray till he's fit again, then he spends his days at the station, at his desk, and the nights with one of us shadowing him. I'd rather keep the exact details of the situation as confidential as possible to avoid any leaks, or anyone knowing that doesn't strictly need to know" Welsh responded.
"Oh great, so I get no time alone is that it?" a sleepy voice responded from the couch. Welsh turned to look at Ray.
"Come on, back to bed. You're dead on your feet" Welsh replied as he physically pulled Ray to his feet.
"Bad choice of words Lou" Ray mumbled, as he was almost asleep. Welsh shook his head and dragged Kowalski back to bed. As soon as he had got the younger man settled he joined Fraser in the sitting room.
"I hate to do this to you constable, but I really gotta get going, I've got to see what was lifted from the scene. Will you be all right here by yourself?" Welsh asked guiltily.
"Yes sir, I have no doubt that I will be able to care for Ray adequately in your absence" he responded respectfully.
"Okay, just make sure you try to get some sleep yourself all right. Oh and don't answer the door" Welsh continued, feeling suddenly nervous about leaving the two alone.
As soon as Welsh was through the door, Fraser double locked it, removed his bright red serge, and laid down on the sofa. His mind kept thinking about Ray. Although originally he had only been pretending to be best friends with Ray to protect Vecchio, in many ways he was now closer to Kowalski than he had ever been with Ray Vecchio. Although he still missed his friend, he didn't feel as empty as he did before his kinship with Kowalski had fully begun. He decided to check on his friend once more before he turned in for the night, he quietly made his way to Ray's bedroom and peeped round the door. His friend was sleeping soundly with his head to one side, and his mouth slightly open. He looked like a little boy when he slept, Fraser thought, so vulnerable and young. He smiled to himself, he would never say that to Ray of course, he'd never describe him as vulnerable as he had a great deal of hidden strength in his slight physique. He pulled the covers tighter around his friend, then turned and went back to the couch, where he laid down.
The next morning both men arose early, keen to get the day started. Ray took the first turn in the shower, hardly muttering a word as he did so, he seemed very withdrawn and quiet, but Fraser just put it down to the bang on the head.
It only took the two forty-five minutes to get ready, then they were heading to the station in Ray's GTO with Fraser at the wheel, much to Ray's disgust. Neither man felt like stopping for breakfast, so by silent agreement they headed straight towards the station. They acknowledged only a few fellow officers on their direct route to Welsh's office.
Welsh looked up straight away when he noticed who had arrived, he himself had come into work early, with the theory that Ray and Fraser would also arrive early, he had been right.
No one said a word and the trio stood in silence whilst each man thought of what to say. Eventually it was Fraser that broke the silence.
"Sir, have you thought about what happens now?" Fraser asked,
"Well I've spoken to the District Attorney, Not Stella" he added quickly before Ray could object "and they have agreed to try to get the case processed as soon as humanly possible, but given the incident last night the people up stairs want you in protective custody as soon as possible until; this thing is over" Welsh told Ray, waiting for an argument, and was surprised when the detective just nodded his head. It was Fraser that sighed, he knew that protective custody would drive Ray mad, and force him to withdraw even further into the shell that he had surrounded himself in. Even Welsh didn't want Ray forced into the situation. "Hopefully it will be finished within a couple of weeks." Welsh concluded.
"Yes Sir" Ray muttered, and Fraser couldn't help but notice how pale his friend looked.
The rest of the day passed slowly with Ray having to reiterate his statement several times to the many different departments. Fraser and Welsh had little to do except sit back and watch, a safe house had already been arranged for Ray, and it had already been decided that he should be guarded by familiar officers so Huey and Dewey had first watch along with Fraser and of course Dief.
As soon as the shift was over the four men drove mutely to their home for the next couple of weeks. The house they were staying in was fairly large with three separate bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen and a wide expanse of lounge. All the windows were bullet proof so the quarters could effectively fulfil their purpose; the doors also had a wide range of locks. Ray immediately took his bag and settled in the medium sized room with the twin beds in it, Fraser followed planning on sharing the room, as soon as he entered the room he saw Ray spread out on the bed against the wall, he was asleep already. Fraser couldn't help but worry about his friend.
Huey and Dewey flopped down on the sofa.
"This isn't bad is it?" Tom, told Jack.
"Keep your mind on the job, this is one of us we are talking about here, focus" Jack responded.
"Yeah you're right" Tom conceded. Actually managing to look repentant. He decided for a change of tact. "So you think they'll try to get him?" he asked.
"I hope not, I really hope not" Jack replied, looking very serious.
Each of the men slept well that night, in preparation for what may be to come, and in some cases namely Ray's, exhaustion. All of the men rose from their sleep away, and carried out their ablutions without uttering an unnecessary word. Huey and Dewey remained within the safe house until ten in the morning when they were relieved by two detectives that Ray had worked with under his own identity. Even he had to admit that familiarity helps. Half way through the shift, and one of the officers decided that he needed a cigarette.
"I could do with one too" Ray whispered quietly.
"You don't smoke" Fraser responded. Ray shrugged. "Look if you need a cigarette in order to offer Ray the best protection, then I'll go and purchase some on your behalf" Fraser continued, not wanting to leave his friend, but unwilling to jeopardize his friends life by removing one of his guards.
Fraser walked quickly down to the nearest shop and a bought packet of ten cigarettes. When Fraser returned to the safe house, he was concerned to find that the door was wide open, he was overwhelmed with the smell of blood. He placed his arm over his mouth and ventured inside. A trail of blood lead from the doorway to the bathroom, and Fraser cautiously followed it. There he found Detective Theating laying on the lino floor, covered in his blood, his breath came in shallow gasps, when he saw Fraser he whispered, but even Fraser couldn't catch what he was saying, so he leaned forward.
"Ray's hit, but they took him" he whispered slightly louder, before his life ebbed away. Fraser released the man's hand and went straight for the phone. Fraser found his hand was shaking as he dialled the number of the precinct into the phone. Francesca answered the phone, and he asked to be directed towards the lieutenant. She picked immediately up on his tone of voice.
"Is Ray okay?" she asked straight away.
"Please Francesca, pass me onto the lieutenant, it's very important that I talk to him" she did as he asked straight away, especially when she heard his clipped tone that the polite Mountie would never usually use.
"Sir, it's constable Benton Fraser. Sir the house has been raided sir, Ray's gone and the two officers are dead"
"Shit! Stay put constable we're coming over" Fraser placed down the phone and sat down the couch, the shock only just hitting him. He run his hands over his face as he worried after his friend. Less than ten minutes later Welsh appeared through the entrance with half of the rest of the precinct in tow. Fraser suspected that very little of the journey had passed under the speed limit, especially as during good traffic times the journey took half an hour at best.
"Shit!" Welsh exclaimed as he entered the safe house, the floor was a wide expanse of blood, with the majority of furniture turned over or shot to pieces. "We need samples of the blood, we need to find out whose it is, and someone tell the families of Bennet and Theating. We need to find out if Ray's been hit" Huey nodded.
"I'll get on to it" Before anyone could say anything he was on the phone ordering forensics.
Ray came awake suddenly, his head housed a dull thud, and his arm felt as though it were on fire.
"Oh shit" he groaned as he tried to move more. He blinked his eyes to adjust to the darkness, but before he could focus a boot came hard into his ribs, and he rolled to avoid the pressure. It was followed by another and then another, he cried out in pain, as time after time he was viciously kicked in the ribs. Until eventually he closed his eyes and let the darkness overtake him once more.
Fraser rubbed his hands over his face in frustration for what felt like the thousandth time in as many minutes. He had to be missing something some vital clue, it couldn't just be a kidnapping to stop Ray from testifying, the felons operated like professionals so it should be assumed that they had a good understanding of the American judicial system, so surely they would know that it would be possible for the trial to be postponed until the key witness was able to testify as long as the certain number of days were not over and the person in question was involuntarily absent. So either they were planning on keeping him unavailable for the whole thirty days or they were going to kill him. Fraser wasn't overly keen on either of the options but preferred the former to the latter. When he spoke to Welsh a few moments later it proved that their minds had been following similar trains of thought.
"We have to find him quickly" Welsh told Fraser forcefully and both men ushered away to see what they could do.
When Ray next came back to consciousness, he was amazed that the beating seemed to have stopped, but it only took a moment before he winced in pain, even breathing seemed to hurt, he closed his eyes and swallowed hard, actually hoping that they would kill him, just to end his suffering. He took a moment then looked around him, the room was dark, and no windows were visible,, however there were two doors within view. Apart from that the room was bare, Ray tried to take in his own appearance, his shirt was torn, so only rags remained, what was left was soaked in his own blood. He wasn't cuffed or chained up, which probably displayed the improbability of his escaping. Every part of him ached, and he knew that even if he could somehow open either of the doors, he wouldn't even be able to move that far.
"Where the fuck can he be?!" Welsh shouted, echoing the thoughts of every officer in the precinct. Fraser stood silently by the door; he couldn't help feeling that he was missing a vital clue to the whereabouts of his friend.
"Sir we have to think logically about this" Fraser told him, still pacing.
"Okay, and how do you suggest we use logic then Fraser?" Welsh questioned
"Well obviously we don't know exactly who is in the gang, but we do know most of their names, form and associates, well we just see what we can lift any of them for then grill them for information, even if we have to kick them in the head as it were" Fraser concluded, very out of character, and using Ray's favourite expression. Welsh looked at him with a shocked expression on his face. He nodded slowly, actually liking the idea, he would do almost anything to get Ray back, he thought with a sadness unfamiliar to it him, when was it exactly that he had grown so fond of the younger man? Sure Ray could be aggravating, irritating, spontaneous, had a wild temper and a short fuse, but he was a brilliant cop and a caring, considerate man. He was a man that Welsh was proud to call a friend, and he was sure that it was returned especially with the loyalty that Ray had shown him in the past, frequently putting his neck on the line as Vecchio in order to protect his friends and his department.
"Okay, I'll give the order" he replied after a long pause.
The next time Ray returned to consciousness, he felt slightly better, it seemed that the goons had finally stopped hitting him, he knew that if he could just hold on until the trial date had passed then he would be okay, he gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut as a wave of pain washed over him. He almost let out hiss, he couldn't believe that even moving a finger sent pain coursing through his entire body, he wondered how long he had been there, 'Come on Frase I need ya buddy!'
IT had been three days since Ray had been grabbed, and it was only one day till the trial, the men and women of the 27th had spent the time interviewing members of the gang day and night. They had only managed to come up with some minor clues, everyone was getting frustrated, but their general concern and worry for Ray's well being spurred them on.
Ray opened his eyes to bright sunlight, he felt sick at the sight, and the light hurt his eyes. He didn't know how long it had been since he had been taken, but he knew that he hadn't eaten since and had only had limited amounts of water, in his debilitated state he could hardly raise an arm, both because of the strength he lacked and the pain that such an action would invoke in him. He once more closed his eyes, he was alarmed by how far down he had gone, the time he managed to stay awake had go less and less as the trauma had gone on, he found he didn't care and gently slipped back in to unconsciousness.
"Fraser we got a lead!" Welsh called out across the squad room, gaining everyone immediate attention. Before anyone could think about it they were all piled into cars, grabbing bullet proof vests and extra ammo, on the way out, as soon as the briefing had finished, as everybody knew that there was no time to waste.
Ray felt himself raising from the ground, and wondered if this was it, maybe he had finally been put out of his misery, just slipped away to the other life, however when he felt the pain that came from him being moved, he knew he hadn't died, surely there was no pain when you had died? Snippets of conversation cut through his thoughts, as the men carrying him spoke urgently to each other.
"You know he don't look too good, I don't think we should move him. I mean what if he croaks?"
"Look man you know we ain't got no choice, the boss says that the filth are on to us, so we gotta get 'im out of here before they arrive and bust the lot of us!" the second voice responded.
"Okay, but don't blame me if we get sent down for cop killing"
"What did you say?" the other voice started, suddenly anxious.
"I was just saying if he dies, we'll get sent down for killing a cop"
"He's a cop?" the voice asked incredulously.
"Yeah didn't the boss tell you the details of the job?"
"No, he knows I wouldn't of done it if I'd have known that he was a cop. I got no beef with cops! I ain't even got a record, come on man, I mean what's he done to deserve this apart from being a cop?"
"He's gonna testify against Hedges and the gang!"
"So what, I mean what's this really gonna solve, he'll probably testify after we've let him go anyway, so what's the point?"
"Would you testify if someone had done that to you?" The first voice asked, and the question hung in silence as both men continued to carry the injured detective out of the warehouse and into a waiting van. The second man, known as John Urban, handled Ray gently and with care, whilst Richard Verve was more forceful, treating the fallen man like a sack of potatoes. Once they had gotten Ray into the van, Urban realised that he had left something behind, so quickly dashed back into the warehouse, grabbed his mobile telephone, it was then that he came up with an idea, he pulled out his notebook and quickly scribbled a note to the police leaving them a clue to their new location. He carefully pinned it to the wall and left the building. He then went back to the waiting van and sped off.
The entire precinct burst into the abandoned warehouse, to find out that it was exactly that. The whole squad breathed a sigh of frustration. They holstered their weapons in unison and immediately began combing the area for vital clues, it didn't take Fraser long to find a note pinned to the wall, however before he removed it, he investigated the floor. It was covered in an extensive pool of blood, it was obviously Ray's.
"We have to find him sir" Fraser spoke to Welsh gesturing at the blood.
"We will Fraser, we will" Welsh replied, gently pulling the note from the wall. He placed it into a plastic evidence bag and read it through the clear bag.
Your friend is being held until the court date, bring the date forward he'll be
Released, right now he's in a place where the fishing is great and birds are
Willing. A hot place in all seasons, and pigs generally spend a lot of time there. Your man needs to catch a bus, but the timetable is not good.
He needs help, I ain't got no beef with the pigs
Welsh frowned in puzzlement.
"What's he going on about wildlife for?" he questioned to no one in particular.
Ray stirred slightly, banging into the sides of the van, he hissed in pain as even the slightest movement hurt his fragile body. He tried to survey his surroundings, but found it impossible in the pitch darkness, however he did discover that someone had had the courtesy to drape a blanket over him and place a pillow under his head, with that thought he allowed himself to once again drift away.
Fraser read the note through again, and after a moment voiced his thoughts to Welsh.
"I don't think that any of this is meant in the literal sense, I mean most of these words have double meanings sir" Welsh nodded.
"Go on constable" he encouraged.
"Well, 'fishing' could mean hunting and 'birds' can mean women or ladies sir. When he refers to 'pigs' he could in actuality mean the police" Welsh rolled his eyes, but Fraser continued anyway. "When he uses the word 'hot' he could mean that there is a lot of criminal activity in the area. However the words 'bus' and 'timetable' have got me stumped sir" Welsh nodded thoughtfully, then sighed deeply before explaining to his Canadian counterpart.
"Bus, is slang for an ambulance, and the reference to a timetable probably insinuates that Kowalski is in a bad way" Welsh told him gently, not revelling in delivering the news himself. Fraser nodded, agreeing with Welsh's answer, but not liking it one bit.
"Well sir, we have to find Ray. To do this what area is highly populated by women, and police officers but still has a high amount of criminal activity?" Fraser questioned, Welsh shook his head, even after all these years he was not used to Fraser's naivety.
"Constable I think he means hookers. We need to find an area of Chicago that has a lot of prostitution, and gets raided on a regular basis" Fraser nodded, understanding at once what Welsh was getting at. "I s'pose he could mean the Eastland couldn't he?" Welsh asked not expecting an answer; he leaned out of his office and hollered for Huey and Dewey to come into the office. They did so, with Francesca in tow. "We got a lead, I want you to gather the squad together and kitted up." They did so, and when everyone was gathered round, Welsh addressed the group.
"We're heading to the Eastland, lets go get our boy back" Welsh told them.
"But sir, isn't that where all the hookers hang?" Dewey questioned.
"Yes, but we're not there for that, we just wanna get Ray back and leave, hopefully bust the guys holding him, but nothing else, got it?" Welsh responded forcefully. There were nods all round, then the group headed out. They were driving round, looking for somewhere where it would be possible to hold someone, the Eastland were fairly small, so there were limited places, as soon as Fraser spotted a warehouse the whole group stopped and were briefed quickly.
Meanwhile Urban gently lowered Ray down on his back, minding his injuries.
"Thanks man", Ray gasped out, Urban narrowly held back tears.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know what they were gonna do to you, or I would never have done it. I'm sorry it's all right though I left a note and your mates are gonna be here real soon to help you."
"You shouldn't have done that.......... You know what will happen if they......if they find out" Ray forced through his parched bloody lips.
"Yes you do don't you" a voice called out from the doorway, Urban looked round and saw Verve standing there aiming a gun at him. "It's been real man" the man said as he pulled the trigger hitting Urban square between the eyes where he fell on top of Ray, Ray would have screamed, but he didn't have the energy, so he just passed out again.
Welsh and the troops heard the shot from outside and immediately went into the warehouse. An ambulance came screeching round the corner as all the police burst in and apprehended two men in the building.
"Find Ray" Welsh barked to Fraser, Fraser shot of at a run, carefully searching each part of the building, until he came to the back where a pool of blood lead him to his best friend sprawled underneath a corpse. Fraser gently pulled the bigger man off of his partner, and knelt down to check for a pulse, it was there but very weak. His friend had lost so much blood, it was amazing that he was still alive. Welsh appeared next to him.
"Is he....?" He questioned dreading the answer.
"He's still alive" Fraser informed him before turning back to his partner. "Ray? Ray can you hear me?" he tried, but to no avail, it seemed that his friend was too deeply unconscious. After a moment Fraser and Welsh were cast aside by the ambulance crew, they attached many monitors and IVs to Ray, before gently sliding him onto a stretcher and loading him into an ambulance, taking only minor details such as name and age before speeding away. Fraser and Welsh exchanged a glance before quickly getting into Welsh's car and speeding away, not caring about the crime scene at that moment. They managed at the hospital moments before the ambulance, and making their way to the waiting room, to await news on their mutual friend. They saw him once in three hours and that was as he was wheeled past them into the emergency room, the sheets around him were covered with his own blood, and he was white as those sheets once were.
Hours later Welsh and Fraser finally saw the doctor, who emerged from Ray's room wearing blood covered scrubs, and a very serious face.
"Are you here for Detective Vecchio?" he asked, at the nods from both men he continued. "Well Detective Vecchio lost a lost of blood, he also suffered three broken ribs, a bruised heart, a fractured knee, a severe concussion not to mention numerous cuts and bruises and some bruising internal. All in all, he is in a very serious condition. The bullet caused muscle damage to his shoulder and tore the muscle, the fact that it wasn't treated or had pressure applied to it accounts for the severe blood loss that he suffered. He is still deeply unconscious and we won't know if the blood loss will cause any long term damage until he comes round. To be honest he's not out of the woods, and whether or not he makes it is up to him."
"What can we do?" Welsh asked.
"To be honest all you can do is be there, try to make sure he has regular visits and make him feel wanted. If and when he comes round it's going to be a long hard road to recovery. Not just physically. Detective Vecchio has been through a very traumatic experience and he may go through mood swings, very solemn and brooding one minute, the next cheerful and happy, and the next full of anger and contempt. You must be prepared for this and stick by him, can I rely on you to do this?" Both men nodded and the doctor smiled, "he's just being moved up to his room, when he's comfortable you can go and sit with him" Welsh and Fraser sat down heavily both eager to go and see their friend.
Ten minutes passed before the doctor came to tell them that they could go and see him. When they went into his room, both men were shocked by his appearance. He lay flat on the bed, with a ventilator breathing for him. His head was encased in thick white bandages, and his shoulder was strapped up. One leg was slightly raised with something placed under the covers to ensure that the sheets didn't touch his leg. His chest was bandaged up to protect his broken ribs. Both men looked up at the mottled bruises up and down his arms, and they suspected under the bandages. One eye was heavily bruised and Fraser suspected in was swollen shut. An IV run into one arm, and blood was being given into the other, two bags at once. Fraser rubbed his hands over his face his friend was so ill, He sat down into the nearest chair and took hold of his friend's hand, it was cold to the touch and so still that his friend could have been dead, and he wouldn't have noticed the difference. Ray was usually so active that it pained Fraser to see him so still. He felt a hand squeeze his shoulder and suddenly remembered Welsh's presence.
"Fraser, sorry ta do this to ya, but I gotta be getting back to the scene, gotta make sure these guys don't get off on some technicality" Fraser nodded and stayed put. Welsh quietly left. Fraser just watched his friend's chest rise and fall, and drifted asleep to the steady beep of the rhythm, the only sign that his friend was indeed alive and breathing. The next morning Fraser was woken from an unrestful sleep by Francesca.
"Hi Frase" he muttered, not bothering to flirt anymore. He muttered a response.
"Why don't you go and get shaved and washed, I'll stay with Ray," she told him, not taking her eyes away from her pretend brother. Fraser nodded before leaving, sensing that Frannie wanted some time alone with her friend, he had sensed a non sisterly fondness towards his partner for some time. As soon as Fraser had departed, Frannie sat down on his recently vacated seat and clutched Ray's hand, she gently sung a song that she had heard on the radio that morning to him, she felt that the words were very apt.
"Been so long since I found someone,
You came as some surprise,
But I knew you were meant for me,
When I looked into your eyes,
So beautiful and strong,
Boy where did you come from,
As life passed me by,
You fell from the sky
Walking around my head hanging
Down I felt so alone.
And your love seemed miles away
I was a heart without a home
In the rain you took the clouds away"
"That's beautiful Francesca" Fraser said from behind her,
"Fraser I thought you'd gone" she whispered back, her face flushed,
"I came back" he replied, just as quietly. "You love him don't you?" he asked gently. She nodded just as the tears began to flow. She explained to Fraser how she only realised how much she cared for Kowalski when he was grabbed, and now she feared that she would never get to tell him. Fraser hugged her close as she confessed her heart to him. He listened and then when she was finished he told her some Ray stories, she laughed then told him some of Ray's exploits, many evenings passed these way, with the two friends exchanging stories about their friend.
One evening two weeks later Frannie and Fraser were discussing an incident about a month before, when Fraser was being held hostage and Ray rode a Police motorbike through the window in order to rescue his partner, when Fraser thought he saw slight movement from the bed.
"Francesca did you see that?" he questioned gently.
"huh uh" she replied, and they watched for more movement.
"Ray, it's Fraser, can you hear me? Please open your eyes if you can hear me" he continued and sure enough Ray's eyes began to flicker open, however as soon as they did, he began to panic, trying to dispel the ventilator tube down his throat. "Go and get the doctor" Fraser told Francesca, she dashed away whilst Fraser tried to get ray to calm down, so that he didn't choke on the tube. The doctor ran into the room and Fraser and Francesca were asked to leave. Ten minutes later the doctor emerged from the room, Fraser looked at him questioningly.
"Well Detective Vecchio is awake, however I am loath to remove the ventilator as yet, his heart and lungs are still in a weakened state, so I'm going to give him the extra breathing support to allow time to heal. The downside is he will be unable to speak for a while, however he can communicate through blink of the eye, one for yes two for no etc. Anyway you can go back in, but avoid getting him agitated." Both friends eagerly went back into the room, just to see their friend in a slightly better state. They approached the bed with caution, neither wanting to startle their friend. Both narrowly held back from crying when they saw tears streaming down Ray's face. Frannie reached out and squeezed his hand, she held her breath until she felt a slight replying pressure. Fraser didn't know what to do, not being one to easily display emotion, he just lurked in the background, feeling a deep hurt in the pit of his stomach for his two friends. Frannie was just content to sit and hold his hand staring at his World worthy deep blue eyes.
Two days passed in this fashion before the doctor decided that ray was progressing enough to be taken off of the ventilator. Fraser stood at the back of the room as the tube was removed and held his own breath as Ray took his first agonising unaided breaths. He reached out and held Ray's hand as his friend's breathing changed into an almost normal rhythm. Ray attempted to speak but no sound rose from his dry throat, Fraser anticipated his difficulties and reached for the nearby cup of ice chips helping the detective to place some in his mouth. After a moment, while Ray allowed the ice to melt in his mouth, Ray eventually spoke.
"How long?" he whispered, Fraser understood immediately.
"Four weeks since you were taken and three weeks since you were found" he responded squeezing his friend's hand, Frannie stayed hovering in the background. Ray squeezed his eyes tightly shut.
"Why can't I move?" he asked his voice barely hearable.
"They are just using restraints so that you don't try and move too much and hurt yourself." Fraser supplied again.
"Do you think that I can have some time alone please, I need some time to think" Ray asked, his voice barely strong enough to utter the words. After a while Fraser nodded.
"If there is anything at all that you need, just ask the doctor to call me" he told his friend with a reassuring smile. Frannie stepped forward.
"The same goes for me bro" she told him with a smile and a gentle kiss of his bruised cheek. He managed a weak grin in response. The two left with a look over their shoulders. As soon as his friends had gone Ray closed his eyes and allowed the tears to fall.
They had just made it outside when Frannie realised that she had left her wallet in Ray's room. She threw her car keys to Fraser and headed back inside the hospital, when she arrived back at Ray's room, she wasn't surprised to find him crying. She slowly walked across to him, and pulled him into her arms while the agonising sobs wracked through his weakened body. She didn't know what he was crying for, he had so many possibilities. He could be crying for the child that had died, the officers that were killed protecting him, the death of the only man that had looked out for him during his ordeal, or the least likely knowing Ray, he could be crying for himself. She gently rubbed his back uttering soothing words, and rocking him slightly, before long he had cried himself to sleep and she gently laid his head back against the pillows and allowed him to sleep his demons away for now, she went back outside and drove Fraser back to the consulate, then she drove herself back to Ray. She was pleased to see he was still asleep and more or less in the same position that he was when she had left. She sat down in the seat beside the bed and watch him sleep, she started to think about the day they had met, how she was immediately taken by his startling true blue eyes, and his deceptively soft spiky hair, in that beautiful straw blond colour. She had immediately got on with him, and had found it difficult to keep up the brother sister rouse. She knew that she'd never have a chance with him, she'd heard the girls gossiping in the ladies room about who they'd want to date, and although some may find it surprising he came top on the list out of the men working at the precinct, some had even gone further and chosen him over Fraser, he had to know how popular he was with the women, but yet he did nothing about it, she knew it must be because he was still deeply in love with Stella. She was brought out of her reverie by Ray crying out.
"Please, don't shoot him. He's just a child for god sake! No shoot me instead! Damn you! Take me, he's got his whole life ahead of him! NNNNNOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" He screamed as he sat up in the bed, then the cry of fright and anger turned into one of pain as his injuries protested against the sudden movement. Frannie dashed to the panic alarm and summoned the nurse, she gave Ray a sedative and shushed him to sleep, while Frannie resumed her vigil beside the bed.
As the weeks went by Ray's physical health slowly improved, with his emotional state improving day by day, his close network of friends were always present to support him it wasn't until one day three months after his capture that he first stepped back into the station. Since his ordeal he was amazed by the new found respect that his colleagues had for him. He only went to the station to do the identity parade for his aggressors. He took a deep breath before entering the station and headed straight for Welsh's office using the assistance of his crutches, ignoring the whispers of those around him. He held his head high and only briefly acknowledged the new found love of his life, Francesca, as she held the lieutenants door open for him.
"Ah Vecchio, pleased to see you could make it. How are you holding up son?" Welsh asked.
"I'm good sir" he replied.
"How are you really?" Welsh persisted.
"Not so bad, leg still gives me trouble and I get a lot of headaches, the nightmares still aren't leaving me alone, but apart from that I'm fine" he responded honestly.
"And that's your definition of fine is it detective?"
"It's all relative sir" he replied with a grin.
"Where's Fraser?" Welsh asked, surprised at the lack of the mounty.
"I told him I wanted to do this alone"
"Do you think that's wise?"
"I have to face them sir" Ray replied determinedly.
"Okay then, lets go" Welsh led the younger man slowly to the identity sweet and sat him down gently. "Right you know the drill, so I won't explain it to you" he told him quietly, he placed a supporting hand on the younger man and waited while the suspects were lead in. Ray quickly identified all of them, keeping a straight focused head. Welsh congratulated him, then helped him out to his awaiting taxi. "Are you okay?" he asked , at Ray's nod he continued. "If you need to talk call me okay? Promise?"
"Promise Lou" he replied, before clumsily climbing into the taxi. He arrived home and finally allowed himself to break. All of the motion of the last three months caught up on him. The fact that he had had to kill someone, the death of the child, his capture and torture, and the guilt of Urban's death still weighed him down. He hadn't spoken to anyone about it, he had refused to talk to the police psychologist, hoping that he could work it out for himself, he had almost managed it, but seeing those guys again today brought it all back to him. He sighed and pulled himself a beer out of the fridge. He sat down on the couch and drank himself into oblivion.
Fraser couldn't stay away from his friend any longer, he knew that his friend told him that he wanted to go alone, but he was worried and he couldn't help it, he let himself into Ray's apartment with his spare key and was shocked to find Ray passed out on the couch surrounded by several empty beer bottles. He held back his gasp and moved to shake his friend awake. Ray came to with a gasp.
"Hey Frase" he rasped.
"Hello Ray, would you like to talk about it?" he asked getting straight to the point.
"About what?" Ray asked avoiding the question.
"Right I have had enough with this, now I want you to tell me what's been going on in here" he stated pointing to Ray's head and taking his younger partner completely by surprise.
"Nothing I'm fine" Ray replied refusing to make eye contact.
"Ray please talk to me, is this about Urban? Or the nightmares, because I know you haven't been sleeping"
"It's nothing, I just have trouble sleeping because it brings it all back. Everytime I close my eyes I see the kid, or Urban, I can't help it, and then their faces are replaced by blood and brains. I know it's sick but I can't help it. When that kid was killed I saw it all, I tried to stop him I screamed at him to take me instead, but he wouldn't. I tried to look away when I saw what he was gonna do, but I couldn't even close my eyes, I watched it all, it was terrible Frase. Then when John was killed it was cos of me. He'd left that note so that you could find me and help me, then Verve killed him. I just saw a look of total shock cross his face, and then he went all limp and fell on top of me. And all I could was I'm just as bad as Verve, I killed someone too. I mean not for the same reason but it don't make no difference here Frase. I mean I'm as bad as them. In my dream, I see the kid then his face is replaced by Urban's and I see them get killed but instead of being killed by Verve or Hedges they are killed by me. Then Theating was killed too, did you know I'd gone through the academy with him? He was my first partner as well. We were like brothers for years, until this gig came up, it's my fault he was killed as well, he had a wife and kids for god sake, and now he's dead cos of me!" Ray continued while Fraser sat back in silence. "Hedges should just have taken me then none of these people would have to have died."
"Ray what you feel is perfectly natural, survivors guilt is very common, but none of this is your fault, you are completely innocent to this. Urban died because he chose to help you, but he wouldn't have had to help you if he hadn't have been involved in your capture in the first place, and the child died because of Hedges, that is not your fault. You did everything that you possibly could, even arresting the man responsible, it doesn't bring him back, but it is some consolation to the parents. Ray none of this is your fault, I know that you don't want to hear this now, but in time you will accept it and learn to live with yourself, in the meantime you have to concentrate on your own recovery and the prosecution of your attackers." Ray nodded.
"How come your so smart Frase?" Ray asked with a grin.
"Frase shut up" Ray responded.
Two months later and Ray sat and adjusted his tie for about the millionth time that day. It was the day of the hearing and Ray was incredibly nervous. As soon as he heard his name he rose from his seat and hobbled into the court room, choosing not to use his crutches despite his still weakened state. He took his place and took his oath.
"Detective do you see your attackers here?"
"Could you please gesture to them please?"
"Yes sir, they are the defendants" he replied. After a long line of questioning he was finally finished, after a trial of two weeks the men were finally found guilty and each giving two life sentences, Fraser, Ray, Welsh and Frannie went to a nearby bar.
"So are you relieved that it's all over?" Frannie asked Ray
"Yeah more than relieved" he responded
"So detective what are you gonna do with the rest of your sick leave?" Welsh asked.
think I'm gonna go away for a while, walk around with my eyes closed
for a while" he replied, each member of the group understood what he
meant. "After all I'm sick of looking at the World with open eyes" he
continued, before putting his bottle down and setting off for home.
"Do you think he'll come back to work again?" Welsh asked Fraser.
"Yes sir, I think he just needs a bit of time to get his head straight, he's been through a lot" he replied.
It was six months before Kowalski finally returned to work as a detective, he came back rested and healthy. He still suffered from the occasional headache and twinges in his leg, but he was still the same old Ray, a slightly quieter version, but everyone was so relieved to see him back that nobody minded.
The lyrics were from a song called 'Don't stop looking for love' By an Irish band called Boyzone.