Disclaimer: They aren't mine. They're owned by a bunch of rich, powerful people who would gain
absolutely nada by bugging a poor college student.
Author's Note: Big tyk's out to Melanie for beta'ing and the title. You is a lifesaver! Wounded Heart by Demeter, Princess of Earth email@example.com "RAY!!" I don't remember diving off the Ferris wheel, or Thatcher following me. All I could see, all
I could hear, was Ray. Ray crumbling to the ground. Ray's blood pumping from the bullet hole
in his chest. Ray's heart slowing. I had to get to him. That's all that mattered. Suddenly, I was beside him. I wanted to pull him into my arms the second my knees hit the
ground, but my training prevented that. Instead I pressed my hands to the gushing hole in his
chest, feeling the slick heat of his blood seeping through my fingers. I barely noticed
Thatcher leaning over me, or Ray Kowalski yelling for an ambulance. "Ray!" I whispered, afraid to speak aloud. "Ray, look at me!" His eyes, which had been drifting closed, snapped open again and focused on me. "Benny?" he
rasped. I could barely hear him "I'm here Ray!" I said, tears forming in my eyes. "I'm not gonna let you go!" "I...sorry, Benny," Ray said. He closed his eyes again, clenching them tight against the tears
that glistened there. "There's nothing for you to be sorry for," I said. //God, don't you dare take him from me!// Ray nodded, ever so slightly. "Didn't say....." he coughed slightly, then took a breath.
"Didn't....... say goodbye. Didn't say......a lot." "There's nothing to say. You never needed to say anything." "Yes. Have to....have to say this." His breathing was getting raspier. It didn't matter, I
could still hear him clearly. "Have to tell you......." "Tell me what Ray?" I pressed harder against the wound, ignoring his slight whimper of pain. I
knew what was coming. "I love you," he said, so quietly. I knew in that instant that if he died, I wouldn't have been able to live. I would follow him
into eternity. I felt his hand weakly brush my cheek, then fall away. Then he was gone, lapsed
into unconsciousness. I just held him tighter, as if by my touch alone he would live. "I know
Ray. I love you too." Then the paramedics arrived, and I was pulled off Ray. By Kowalski and Thatcher, I guess. I
say guess because I honestly don't know. One second I was clinging to Ray, the next Kowalski
and the Inspector were supporting me. They were trying to reassure me, telling me everything
was going to be fine, that Ray would be fine. I don't know if I believed them. I barely noticed that I was being helped into the ambulance and seated next to Ray's stretcher.
I do remember suddenly holding his hand again. I have a very distinct image of Kowalski's face
at that moment. He looked shocked, angry, and even a little jealous. I didn't understand that
until much later. The next four hours were an agonizingly slow torture waiting for news with the Vecchios and the
The doctor came out and said something about touch and go, about not being out of the woods yet.
Then we could see him. I let the family go in first, though it took every ounce of will I had left not to plow into
that room at the first opportunity. Finally, too long in my opinion, they came out. A tired-
looking Tony and Maria escorted the weeping Mrs. Vecchio down the hall as Francesca stopped
before me. She was talking to me, but I don't cleary recall what she said, only that she was
crying. Then I was inside and next to him.
He looked terrible. Not at all like my beloved friend, and at the same time just like him. I
flashed back briefly to another hospital room, another bed, and Ray looking just as terrible.
God, was that only four years ago? Seemed like eternity. I thought he was asleep, but I was wrong. As I stood looking down at his waxen face, he began
to speak. His voice was weak and raspy, but it was Heaven's own music to me. "Just like old times, huh?" he rasped. "Unhappily yes." Somehow I managed a smile. His eyes opened and focused on me as I grasped his
hand. He looked like hell.
"Don't worry, it's just a flesh wound," he grinned slightly, then coughed. "I always wanted to
say that. Don't feel as good as I thought it would." "Ray..." "Hey Benny, you Mounties still always get your man?" Ray asked, a grin pulling at his lips. I sighed and nodded, grinning slightly myself. "We try to, yes." "Then go get him, Benny," he said. "You go catch that bastard for me." "But Ray..." "Don't worry," he said, "I'll still be here when you get back. We'll talk then." "All right, Ray." He smiled then and squeezed my hand. "I'll come back as soon as I can. I
promise." "Be careful Benny," he said. "Aren't I always?" I smiled down at him. "No," he grinned, eyes drifting closed. His medication was kicking in. "I have to go, Ray." I squeezed his hand one last time and turned toward the door. "Good luck Benny," I heard him say just as I stepped out into the hall. I sighed and headed back to the waiting room to collect Kowalski. We had a lot to do if we
were to catch Muldoon quickly. After all, I had a promise to keep. End