Standard Disclaimer: due South and the characters are not mine. And
neither is any claim to writing skills. Remember...even Benton Fraser
got ottered once. This is a fixit for "Victoria's Secret/Letting Go".
WARNING: PG-13 AU
He stood at the edge of the platform and watched Victoria slowly pull herself onto the train. He was letting her go. Ten years ago he had this same choice. And ten years ago he did what was right. What the law dictated. But not what he felt. This time he would let her go. A liar. A thief. A murderer. But he would let her go all the same.
He stared at her. Trying to imprint every feature to memory. He would never see her again. He would be alone. But still she pulled at him. "Come with me!" Her plea cut through the cold air. Full of longing. Full of promise. "You'll regret it if you don't!"
Even with all that had happened. All that he knew. He could not stop himself. He began to run. Slowly at first. Then faster. Glancing to his right he could see Ray and Lt. Welsh across the tracks. And ahead of him, Victoria. Her hand outstretched. A smile on her face that was like the call of an angel. A force so powerful he could not resist.
His feet pounded the pavement, his arms pumping. He was running for his life. A life with Victoria. A life with the woman he loved. Never to be alone again. Never to feel that empty ache in his heart. It was all wrong his mind screamed. "Maintain the right! Arrest her!" His heart answered, "This is right. Go with her!"
He had almost reached her hand and in the distance he heard Ray yell out. But all he could see was Victoria's face smiling down at him from the train as it gained speed on the tracks. Their hands met. Clasped together. He threw himself up into her embrace. For that one moment things froze. This was right. I am going with her. I love her. We will be together. Always.
But in that instant he heard the sound of gunfire. A service revolver. He jerked in surprise. He was shot. There was a hot, blinding pain that washed over him. In the time that it had taken him to think that his life was perfect. That he and Victoria would be together. He now thought, "My life is over. Ray's life is ruined. This was wrong and now I am paying for it. This is all my fault."
His gaze met Victoria's. Both of them in shock. His from the physical pain. Hers from knowing what had just happened. As he started to fall back she let go of him thinking "I love you Ben, but not enough to stay with you. I am free." But her face contorted from sadness to anger. His hands locked around hers in a powerful grip. He was pulling her off the train with him.
They both rolled onto the platform. Ben landing on his back not moving, his eyes locked onto Victoria's form. The gun that he had taken from her in the station lying next to his body. Victoria rolled over, seeing the gun and seeing Ben. How could he! How could he do this to her! She seethed in a blinding rage. He betrayed her again!
Quickly she moved to his side. Picking up the gun and in one smooth movement she stood and brought the barrel level, pointing at his chest. "You son-of-a-bitch!", she screamed. "You god-damn son-of-a-bitch!" There was another shot. At first Fraser thought that Victoria had pulled the trigger. But as he looked into her face he saw what he must have looked like those few seconds ago. A look of total shock. She slowly glanced down to her chest as a patch of red spread through her dress. Her eyes went back to Fraser's. Disbelief. And then a blank look as she fell backwards onto the ground.
Just at that moment Ray rushed to his side. Ray. The only person who actually tried to know him. Who accepted him as he was. The closest thing to a brother he would ever have. Ray was his family. He had ruined it all. All for his own selfishness. All for his need to be loved. Not to be alone.
It was getting harder for him to focus. His breathing was becoming ragged. The cold air biting though his clothes making his skin feel like ice. And then the snow began to softly fall. Like he was home in the north. Ray was screaming for someone to call an ambulance. Then there was nothing but quiet.
panic was evident in Ray's voice. "Everything is going to be all right
Benny. Just hold on. Everything is going to be all right." His breath
catching Fraser whispered to him, "I am so sorry Ray. I am so sorry."
The last thing that he felt was Rays hand on his shoulder. Then everything
"Benny...Benny. Shit. Where's that ambulance?!", Ray yelled. Fraser wasn't moving or speaking. Ray wouldn't have been so sure about him breathing if it weren't for the small wisp of steam coming from Fraser's mouth.
"Ray." He glanced over to the voice that called his name. It was Huey. He was kneeling next to Victoria. "She's dead." Ray's eyes scanned over her face, a small trickle of blood ran from her mouth contrasting with the white of her skin. Her eyes staring up at the sky.
He killed her. He had said to her that if she hurt Benny, he would kill her. And it happened. "Good." His voice sounded wooden to his own ears. Flat, no emotion. Just stating a fact. The hatred that he had for her was still there. But he was relieved that she was dead. Was he supposed to feel this way?
He returned his attention to Fraser. The pool of blood slowly growing beneath him. What if he bleeds to death before they even get him to the hospital? What if he just died here now? What if...no when he recovers will he be the way he was before? God, I shot him! What is he going to think about my killing Victoria? Oh, my god. How am I going to explain all of this to him? That I didn't mean to kill her when I really did want to.
When he had seen Victoria pointing the gun at Benny, screaming at him. The only thing that ran through his mind was "kill the bitch, take her out". One shot. That was all it took. Now she could never hurt Benny again
He looked into Fraser's face. What in the hell did he see in Victoria? It couldn't have been her beauty. In the time that Ray had know Fraser he had seen dozens of women throw themselves at him. And never once did he respond. Except to stammer, blush or even just act like he didn't know they were offering him anything. What could she have possessed that could make Fraser lie or make excuses for a murderer? She had controlled him so easily. Up until that last second.
Ray was jolted from his thoughts by a hand on his arm. "Detective." It was Lt. Welsh motioning for Ray to move out of the way. The EMT's had arrived. He watched them as they began their job. Quick hands. Quick words. They worked so fast. But to Ray it seemed to be agonizingly slow as they loaded Fraser onto the gurney.
He spoke to Lt. Welsh, "I'm going with him."
He got a nod of affirmation. Like he expected anything else. They made
their way down the platform, across the station. Past the lockers where
Victoria had begun her flight only moments before. As Ray settled himself
into the ambulance all he could think was...please God let him live.
Images blurred along with sounds. He tried to focus, but failed. One moment he saw things, the next he would black out. He didn't know how much time had passed since he was shot.
When he had his moments of lucidness he tried to concentrate, both mentally and physically. Trying to catalog what was wrong with him. How much damage had been done? But this injury was different than any of the ones he had before. He had been beaten, stabbed, bitten, bones broken and he had been shot before. But it was never like this. He couldn't breathe right. His back was on fire and his hands were all tingly.
Fear was the only emotion he could connect to now. He couldn't move his legs. But he wasn't sure if the pain was so great that it was blocking out all feeling. Occasionally he would be able to understand words. Strange voices, technical...estimated blood loss...pulse weak and thready. Then sometimes he could hear Ray. Or thought he could. Was Ray with him?
Then bright lights were flicking over him. Sounds had taken on an echoing quality. He had to be in a hospital. The one thing that he could not mistake was that smell. Antiseptic.
he struggled to stay conscience he could feel the adrenaline rush of
those around him. Voices kept calling out numbers and instructions. And
yes Ray was with him. He could hear his friend. "He's o.k. right? He's
still breathing right?! Benny. I'll be right out here." And then even
that sound disappeared as he moved away from it. He saw a face above
him. A doctor. She was telling him that everything was going to be fine.
Then the blackness swallowed up all thought.
Next of kin. They asked me about next of kin. Ray was too stunned by that comment to move. A nurse came and he handed Ray a clipboard. "I need you to fill this out Mr. Vecchio. Mr. Fraser's file listed you as next of kin. If there are any decisions to be made, we will need to have these consent forms completed and signed".
He felt himself being slowly directed down the hall to a waiting room. Typically decorated. They tried to make it feel homey. So you would relax. How in the hell am I going to relax. Benny's in there dying all because I shot him!
One moment he had Victoria in his sight and in a split second Benny was there. Shot. Each time he tried to begin the forms he would just close his eyes. And see Fraser jerking as the bullet hit him. Then the blood. He bled so much.
Finally he was able to complete what he could. The questions about possible codes, death and burial he skipped. Benny wasn't going to die. He couldn't die. No matter what had happened to him before he always came out of it. He was always on top. Screw the forms! He walked over to the nurses station handing over them over.
He had been there one hour already! No one had bothered to come and tell him anything. Geez! I need to call Ma and Frannie. Oh, boy. That was going to be hard. He had done all that he could to steer Frannie away from Fraser. Fraser had taken his hints and left Frannie alone. But his sister was relentless in her pursuit of the Mountie. I had better get this over with.
I need to call the consulate too and let them know what is happening.
He didn't know how they were going to react over there. They basically
treated Fraser as if he didn't exist. It was weird how he could come
and go. Fraser would do his shift standing guard. And if he was late
as a result of his helping Ray on a case all they did was give him more
guard duty. Or some other menial task. What was the deal with those people
anyway. They were from his own country for God's sake! Screw them! I'm
calling Ma and Frannie first.
I'm cold. That was the first thought that he had that he didn't forget right way. He had been drifting in and out for who knows how long. I'm cold and I feel like I am going to throw up.
He tried opening his eyes, but they felt like lead weights. Just doing that exhausted him. How bad was he hurt? How long had he been unconscious? Again he knew that he was still in a hospital. The smells. And in the background he could hear a steady beeping. A heart monitor. He knew that sound from his previous visits to hospital through his years in the RCMP.
Again he tried to open his eyes. This time he succeeded in opening them to slits. But it was enough for him to be able to see. He found himself staring at a wall with a window. It was night. With some effort he was able to move his head a bit to glance further into the room. He could make out a figure in a chair. In an uncomfortable position.
He tried to speak, but his throat was dry and raw. And what came out was barely a whisper. I must be in really bad shape. Just talking and trying to open his eyes was leaving him weak.
Again he could feel the panic welling up inside of him. He was a Mountie! He could ride a horse like nobodies business, run or walk for miles without missing a step. He could leap from building at heights that most people would never attempt. And here he was...having trouble opening his eyes.
How much damage was done? How much of it will be permanent? Again he made an effort to completely open his eyes. He wanted to see who was in his room. As he concentrated he could finally make out an image. His pupils had adjusted to the light that spilled from the hallway into the room. It was Ray!
that he realized it was Ray all of the panic was replaced by a warm,
comforting feeling. It was Ray! He is here. With me. I'm going to be
all right. Exhausted by his efforts, Fraser let his eyes close and drifted
back to sleep.
Ow. His back felt stiff and sore. Whoever made these chairs sure didn't have comfort in mind when they designed them. Well, they weren't exactly made for sleeping so I guess I shouldn't complain.
It was morning and Ray had just woke up. Eight a.m. Wonderful. He stood up and stretched trying to relieve the kinks in his muscles. He looked out the window. What a beautiful day. Perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun was shining and a gently breeze wafted its way in. A small smile crossed his faces as he looked outside. But the smile faded to a frown. Fraser was still out. It had been too long. The doctors said that it was normal for someone that had been through what had been done to him.
This was normal? Not moving. Not speaking. Just lying there like he was dead? He hated looking at Fraser like this. He was pale. Well, maybe he should say clear. Ray shook his head at himself. I can't believe I just made fun of him for being so white. It's not like he ever sunbathed at all before. But now he looked so...un-Fraser like.
Even when he would just be sitting and talking to Ray he always had a sparkle in his eyes that he never seemed to have with anyone else. He was relaxed and animated. Relaxed for Fraser.
Their friendship had given them a strong bond. Even though Fraser had never truly opened up to Ray, he felt that this was the most that he had ever given to anyone. He just didn't relate well to people. So the fact that he could sit and talk with Ray for hours or just sit and say nothing and never feel uncomfortable. Well, Ray knew the friendship that they shared was special. It was a gift.
With that in mind he turned back to Fraser. Expecting to see the same deathlike form. Instead he saw Fraser looking at him. "Oh my God! Benny! You're awake!" Ray couldn't believe that he yelled out like that in a hospital. Shit! Calm down. Your in a hospital. O.K. First call the nurse.
He grabbed the buzzer and kept stabbing at the button. Fraser never let his gaze stray from Ray. And to Ray's amazement he saw a slight smile cross Fraser's features. Ray felt like crying. A nurse walked calmly in. Did they always have to be so slow and calm thought Ray. That was beginning to get on his nerves. She picked up Fraser's chart and check his monitor. Then she got a small cup of water and helped him take a sip. Then came the standard set of questions. What is your name. What year is it. Ray could tell that it took a huge effort on Fraser's part just to do these simple things. "I'll be back" the nurse said as she left the room.
awake," Ray said again as he drew a chair closer to the bed. And again
he was rewarded with that same smile. Ray took Fraser's hand in his and
squeezed it. "Tired" Fraser whispered. "It's o.k. Benny, go back to sleep".
Ray watched Fraser as he closed his eyes, his breathing slowing down.
Now that Ray knew that Fraser's sleep wasn't permanent, he could relax.
And just watch him.
It had been a week since Fraser had 'come alive' as Ray had called it. Each day that he visited him he could see small improvements. The fact that he was able to stay awake was the main thing. The first few days he would just drift in and out. And even though they didn't talk, Ray could see that Fraser was relieved to see him each time. It was as if he had to be reassured that Ray hadn't left him.
He was able to stay awake for a few hours at a time towards the end of that first week. Ray could see that he was in alot of pain physically. It hurt him even more knowing that he now had to put him through additional mental pain.
"Ray. What happened to Victoria? Is she in this hospital too?" Fraser asked this question of Ray even though deep down inside his heart he knew she was dead. He could see Ray trying to tell him. But he had refused to ask the question earlier. Postponing the loss. But it was inevitable. He needed to know. He needed to hear the words.
"She didn't make it Benny. She's dead." He couldn't look Ray in the eye. All of this was his fault. His injuries. Ray's pain. Victoria's death. Closing his eyes he turned his head towards the window next to his bed. Trying not to cry. He couldn't cry. Not in front of Ray. Not in front of anyone. His grandparents had taught him that.
As Fraser turned his head away from
him Ray felt like someone had plunged a knife in his chest. He blames
me for everything. His being here. Victoria being dead. How is he ever
going to forgive me? He had to tell him. "Benny. I'm the one who shot
her." At that Fraser brought his hands to his face. "Ray. Could you leave
me alone for a while. Please." His voice was strained as he tried to
control his emotions. "O.K., I'll come back later." As he walked away
from Fraser he couldn't help thinking again, How can he ever forgive
It was a mantra. Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. All he could
see was Victoria's face as she was in those last moments. A kaleidoscope
of emotions. Hate. Love. Loathing. Shock. His mind replayed them. It
was as if he were caught in a never ending loop. Ray had left him alone
as he asked. Before Victoria he had felt alone. When she came back she
had filled a void within him. But with her death came the realization
that as long as Ray had been his friend he would have never been alone
the rest of his life. Their friendship would have always been there.
But he had betrayed Ray. All for this for the love of a woman. And was
it truly love? He still couldn't decide that. Everything seemed to blur.
How could he explain to Ray how sorry he was when he couldn't even explain
things to himself?
Ray hadn't been to the hospital in two days. It was the longest time that he had been away from there. He just couldn't face him. Would Fraser ever want to see him? He had been sitting at the table in the kitchen all evening. A cold cup of coffee and a newspaper in front of him. He didn't know what to do.
Francesca walked into the room. "Hi Ray." "Hey." "So how's Benton doin' today?" "I didn't go see him." "You didn't see him yesterday either." Ray exploded. "All right! I didn't go see Fraser for two friggin' days! Don't I deserve some time to myself?!" Francesca just looked at him. She knew that he was under a lot of stress. She wouldn't push him. "O.K. Well I'm thinking of going to see him tomorrow. If you want to go with me, let me know."
Ray couldn't believe that he had yelled at her that way. She had done nothing to him. He ran his hands over his head. "I'll let you know in the morning. Thanks." "No problem Ray." When she left the room he tried to pinpoint why he was so angry at himself. But he found that he was angry at Fraser too. None of this would have happened if he could have been more open with him.
He knew that Fraser had problems with expressing himself. It was from
repressing everything since he was a child. But Ray was supposed to be
his best friend. Why couldn't Fraser turn to him for help? Why did he
let Victoria manipulate him? He decided he would go back tomorrow with
Frannie. He would never be able to get Fraser to talk. To open up about
all of this, if he avoided him.
Fraser had a few visitors those two days that Ray didn't stop in. Elaine, Lt. Welsh, Huey & Duey. But each time he heard footsteps coming by his room he would strain to hear if it was Ray. But it never was. He had to force himself not to show how disappointed he was when each new person came in.
Would Ray ever come back? Did this mean that he would never see him again? No. Ray would be back. Wouldn't he? Fraser was not certain of anything anymore. Not his heart. Not his body. Not his thoughts.
He was able to stay awake each day longer. But the simplest things exhausted him. Even going to the bathroom was a tiring, embarrassing chore. Lying there day after day. Night after night. He felt like an animal trapped. He couldn't escape. He couldn't even dream. Before he was shot he remembered having vivid dreams. Now he woke up with no memory of them at all. It bothered him. Why couldn't he remember his dreams?
And to top it all off, the pain medication that they gave him didn't help very much. He should have asked for something stronger, but he did not like taking it to begin with. And then there was the nausea. There was nothing like feeling sick and dizzy all of the time. That is why he slept so much. To escape all of that.
He looked at the clock next
to him. It was close to three in the afternoon. If Ray were to be coming
at all he wouldn't be there until after five. If I go to sleep time will
go by faster. Maybe Ray will come tonight. So he slept.
Francesca and Ray were making their way through the hospital. Quietly they entered Fraser's room. He was asleep as usual thought Ray. "He looks alot better ya' know.", whispered Francesca. Yes he did Ray admitted to himself. He didn't have that pasty, white complexion anymore.
He watched Fraser. He was dreaming. His hands would occasionally twitch. His breathing was picking up, but it was irregular. He watched the heart monitor as the rate continued to increase. It was starting to scare him. Was Fraser going through some type of convulsion?
Francesca's hand was touching his arm. "Ray is he o.k.?" "I don't know. Benny...Benny!" His voice got louder as he called him. Just as he was about to shake Fraser's shoulder he jerked awake. As he did that a flash of pain went across his face and he turned ashen.
"Benny are you o.k.?" Ray was right beside him. Fraser was still trying to center himself. Pain sliced its way through his lower back. "I'm o.k. Ray.", he managed to speak through gritted teeth. Looking around he saw Francesca at the end of his bed. He started to laugh, but it was cut off by another wave of pain. "Benny!" "What is wrong?" "Nothing. I'm just having back spasms Ray." All he could think was it was Francesca's turn to look like a squirrel. She looked petrified. And for some reason it struck him as being funny.
Take a deep breath. Try to relax. The pain was slowly ebbing to a dull throb. "Benny. I'm really sorry about that. I didn't mean to wake you up like that. I just didn't know if you were dreaming or if something was wrong with you." "That's quite all right Ray." he shifted on the bed trying to sit up a little. Ray reached forward to help him. "Thank you Ray." It felt good just seeing him. All the apprehension he had been feeling slowly went away. He felt awkward. But he felt relief that Ray had come back.
"Uh, I'm going to go and get something to drink. Can I get something for either of you?" Francesca had wanted to stay. But her main reason for coming was to get Ray to come back. And now she knew they needed some time to talk. "No thank you Francesca." "No Frannie." "O.k., well I'll be back in a little bit." They watched her as she left the room.
"You know Benny you scared her just now." And me too thought Ray. "I'm sorry Ray." He stood and watched Fraser. What should I talk about? Oh, yeah! "I heard from the doctor that you're to be assigned a therapist tomorrow. They are going to come in and give you the once over." Ray smiled as he said that and watched as Fraser grimaced at that comment. This time in irritation. "How delightful. One more person to come in and poke me and ask me how I am doing. Ray. I can not wait to get out of here." Hum. Fraser was getting touchy. This is something different.
"Well now that you mentioned it...Ma and I were discussing that. When you get discharged we want you to come and live with us for a while." Holding up his hand he stopped Fraser from talking. "No arguments. Besides. Ma said that is what you are going to do. No ifs, ands or buts. She said there was no way she was going to let one of her sons try and take care of himself when he is hurting. "
Fraser smiled at that. Her son. But he wasn't such a good son anymore. Not after what he did to Ray or the Vecchio's home. "Ray?" "Yes Benny?" "Exactly how much damage did I do to your house? Ray raised his eyebrows at this. Fraser was actually talking to him about what had happened. It wasn't exactly one of the topics that he wanted him to talk about but it was a start.
"You did a pretty good job of tearing up the place." Ray spoke a bit too sharply when he said it. And he regretted it immediately. He wasn't going to get Fraser to open up by ripping him apart. "Ma, Frannie and Maria have things picked up pretty much already. There's still a few things that need to be fixed. Some stuff was broken." "I will repay you for all of it." Fraser sighed and shifted in his bed. His back was still throbbing. Serves me right he thought. I deserve all the pain that I am having after what I did.
"Why did you tear the place up?" Ray could see Fraser hesitate. But he began to speak. "She...Victoria called me. She said that if I didn't follow her instructions she would give Internal Affairs the location of the key to the locker in the train station. She was setting you up Ray. Internal Affairs would have thought that you and I had an agreement. To divide the money. The key was in your house. I had to find it before they could get there. I knew that she would call them. Even if she said she wouldn't." His voice trailed off.
She had everything planned Ray thought. She knew how to manipulate Fraser from beginning to end. "Hey Benny." Fraser finally looked Ray in the eyes. He hadn't done so the entire time that he had talked. "She had you. And she had you bad. You would have done anything for her. But you still had enough sense to not let her ruin me. You stopped her. That is all that is important." Fraser cocked his head to the side in confusion. "Ray. I was going with her."
When Ray heard Fraser speak those words he wasn't surprised by them. "I know." Fraser looked questioningly at Ray. If he knew, then how could he sit there so calmly? If I would have left Ray he would have no home. No job. No life. "I forgive you." "Ray..." "No Benny. You listen to me. Yes you were going with her, but in the end you didn't. Maybe getting shot helped you to make the decision. But you did make the right choice. You didn't let her go."
Fraser lay there. Again not trying to cry. There was so much that he wanted to tell Ray. So much he need to talk to him about. But he just couldn't do it. Ray could see that Fraser was about to break down. He almost backed off. But maybe this is what he need to heal. He never showed emotion. He never got loud. He never got angry. He never cried. Maybe this is what he needed.
"I forgive you Benny.", he repeated. Again Fraser turned his head away from Ray. His hands were tightly clenched into fists. Ray knew that he was holding everything back. And it wasn't good. He had to let it go. Ray slowly got up from his chair walking to the side of the bed. "You can cry Benny. There's nothing wrong with that." And as he spoke he reached down and placed a hand on his shoulder. "It's o.k. to cry."
All the years growing up Benton Fraser had been taught not to cry. It was a sign of weakness. And here was Ray Vecchio. His best friend. One of the strongest people he knew. Saying that he forgave him. That it was all right to cry. The simple gesture of compassion. One touch that said, 'I am here for you' broke down his resolve. And he did cry. And even more to his surprise Ray Vecchio reached down to hug him.
He didn't know how long he cried. But when he finally stopped he felt exhausted. But it felt good. Everything that he had held within himself was gone. "Thank you Ray." "You're welcome Benny. Everything is going to be all right."
Francesca came walking back into the room. She could see what had gone on even though she hadn't been there. "So. Did you two have a nice talk?" "Yes Francesca we did." "That's nice. I hate to be a bother, but I need to get back home. Ray?" "Sure Frannie. You up for another visit tomorrow Benny?" "Yes Ray." "O.k. Goodnight Benny." "Goodnight Ray." "See ya' Benton." "Goodnight Francesca."
As he watched the two figures
leave he decided that yes, he was lucky. He had family. He wasn't alone.
And that night he slept soundly. And when he woke the next morning he
remembered a dream.
Fraser's physical therapist was to come in to 'check him out' today. He was not looking forward to it. Being checked out meant someone else pushing and pulling his various body parts until he felt pain. He had enough of pain. And the nausea from the medication was running full force. If he got poked the wrong way today, he didn't know if he could stop himself from getting sick.
He had come close to it earlier in the morning when they had served him breakfast. He had refused to eat any of it, pushing the plate away from him. And of course the nurse present made a little note of it on his chart. Patient refused food. She had shaken her head at him like he was a little boy being bad. Did she ever eat this stuff? That was not food that they gave him. The only thing that he could eat without gagging was the cherry jello at dinner last night.
He heard footsteps. They were light. It would not be Ray. But they weren't Francesca's. In walked a blond haired woman. She was pretty. She looked healthy, but she was a bit too thin. She introduced herself as Jill Kennedy. She was to be his therapist.
He sighed inwardly. She was giving him the eye. It was subtle, but it was there. Why me? He just was not in the mood for this. And for some reason he began to get irritated. She hadn't done anything to him and he was already on edge.
As she pulled the curtain across the room for privacy he became nervous. Here it comes. The poking. She started pulling the sheets down exposing his legs. She talked to him as she manipulated his legs. Her observations were quite good. It was obvious she knew her job.
He gritted his teeth choking back any sound. She had twisted his left knee. He could feel the hot flash of pain shooting up his back. Closing his eyes he willed himself to relax. Do not throw up.
His eyes jerked open. She was still pulling and checking his legs, but her hand was a little too high on the inside of his thigh. Just because he was a patient it didn't mean that she could just...no. She isn't 'feeling you up' as Ray would say. She is a professional. This is her job. This is what she has to do.
Now she moved up to his chest. She was taking the top of his gown and pulling it down. Again she was looking him over. Pushing and poking. Why is she looking at my chest? My back is where I was shot. More irritation. Her fingers were tracing a pattern across the scar on his shoulder. She had a confused look on her face.
"And this is interesting. It's old. Maybe twenty years. There's plenty of scar tissue so it was deep. It's an object. But something with teeth and hair maybe. This is going to sound silly but were you ever..." He cut her off not even bothering to hide his irritation with her. "It was an otter. I was ten. It was dead. Someone hit me with it. Can we move on?"
His heart was beating faster. He had to swallow the bile that rose up in his throat. Calm down. He had almost lost it just then. No! Now she wanted to check out his bullet wound. Her hands were like ice and he jerked away from her. "Sorry, cold hands."
She pushed in on the surrounding tissue. It was too much. He found himself leaning over the side of the bed throwing up. He heard her freeze on the other side of the bed. "Mr. Fraser? Are you all right?" She walked over to the the side where he was turned stepping around the pool of vomit on the floor.
He had tucked his head onto his arms as he lay on his side. How embarrassing. I can not believe that I lost control like this. He was sweating. And he felt another wave of nausea. But this time there was a bed pan before him. Ms. Kennedy had been able to see this time what he was about to do.
When he had finished he found himself apologizing. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean to do that." She looked at him quizzically. "How long have you been sick like this?" He proceeded to tell her of his dizziness and nausea. For some reason he felt comfortable telling her this. How strange. One minute he was irritated with her. Now he was spilling his guts to her. In more ways than one.
She listened to him and finally spoke. "You should have told someone about this. There is no reason for you to be nauseous. All they have to do is put you on a different medication. It was her turn to be irritated with him. He found himself apologizing again. "I am sorry. I didn't think to ask that." She softened up immediately. Sometimes it did pay to look so innocent. "Just relax. I'll be back in a few moments with someone to clean this up." She patted him on the shoulder and left the room.
He looked out
the window next to his bed. He saw the same empty courtyard that he looked
at all day. Sighing he found himself wishing that he could run out of
the hospital. He hated it here. But until he began his therapy there
was no way he could do that. He needed to learn to walk again before
he could run.
"Ray. I really think this is unnecessary." Ray felt like laughing as he pushed Fraser's wheelchair. Fraser had been improving steadily. Today he was going to physical therapy and Ray was going with him. His therapist had mentioned in front of Ray about Fraser beginning some pool therapy. Ah! A pool. Ray had quickly 'invited' himself to the session.
They had reached the pool and now they had to get Fraser to it. With Jill on one side and Ray on the other they supported him. Even though he was recovering ahead of schedule it still bothered Ray to see Fraser like this. And if it bothered him, think of what it must be doing to Benny.
Fraser felt embarrassed. Here he was in a pair of RCMP swim trunks being practically carried to a pool. Each step that he took was agonizingly slow. And painful. Even with Ray and Jill's support he could feel himself beginning to tire. I can do this. I am not going to stop walking until I get there. One step at a time. Right foot. Left foot. Just another step and I can stop.
"Benny, you o.k.?" As always it was Ray making sure he wasn't pushing himself too hard. Fraser couldn't believe it and mentally shook his head to himself. I almost ruined Ray's life. I put him through hell. And now he's supporting me. He had read in one of his farther's journals that true friendship was a once in a lifetime thing. And maybe this was it. But he couldn't be sure. How could Ray forgive him so quickly?
He was jolted from his thoughts by a large splash. "Come in Benny the water is fine!" Ray easily swam to the other side of the pool in a few strokes. His movements fluid. Fraser felt a stab of envy as he watched Ray. I can't even do that. It seemed so easy. He exhaled a sigh.
Jill turned to him. "Are you ready? Let's take it slow. Hold onto the rail and I'll help you into the water." Ray was right. The water was nice. It enveloped him, sliding across his skin. It was cool. As she led him deeper into the water she instructed him to relax. "Just lay back and float. I'll support your weight." As he did, he felt the pressure lesson on his back and legs. It felt good.
"So Benny. Ya' wanna' have a water fight?" Fraser smiled in spite of himself. "Well Ray, I really do not think that I am in the position to properly defend myself. Maybe later when I am fully recovered." "No problem Benny. I'll take it as a rain check."
Ray watched with interest as Jill slowly walked deeper in the pool. "O.K. Ben I'm going to need you to stand up now. O.K. Face me. Put your hands on my biceps. That's it. I'm going to walk backwards and you are going to follow me. Try and put your weight on your legs and not on my arms. O.K. That's good. Keep moving."
Ray could see Fraser concentrating on his movements. He could only wonder how it must feel to have to think about walking. Especially for someone like Fraser who had been in such great physical shape. Hey. He's not doing too bad.
Fraser had walked almost half the length of the pool and was standing by himself with the water up to his waist. And then without warning he collapsed. Ray had to stop himself from jumping across the pool to help him. Jill easily leaned Fraser back into a floating position instructing him to relax again.
"Not too bad Ben. You're getting stronger. We'll have you up and running in no time." "Understood." Oh, boy. Fraser is not too happy thought Ray. "Benny" "Yes Ray." "How about I treat you to dinner tonight to celebrate this momentous occasion?" Fraser looked at Ray with interest. Real food. "What are we having?" Hospital special Benny." Fraser made a face at him. "I thought you said that we were celebrating Ray?" Ray sniggered. Well, well. He's not feeling as bad as I thought.
"Excuse me Ray", Jill spoke. Could you bring the wheelchair closer to the pool please. Thank you." She continued to work with Fraser as he went and got the wheelchair. "We are going to slowly stand you up and I want you try and pull yourself up and out of the pool. I'll be at your side in case you need me, but I want to see you do this by yourself."
Ray stood by the wheelchair as Fraser made his way out of the pool. It took him a while to do it. But he did make it by himself. Ray helped Fraser sit down noticing how tired he looked. "Ray. Could you hand me a towel please?" "Sure Benny." Nah. I can't do it. Oh what the hell! Ray tossed the towel into Fraser's face. "Very funny Ray", Fraser said as he pulled the towel off his head. "Thought you might think so Benny."
It felt good to bicker with Ray again.
It felt good to move around. It just felt good to be alive. Ray started
to push the wheelchair down the hallway. "What say we go and eat Benny?"
Gunshot! I heard a gunshot! Fraser had snapped awake in his hospital bed. Glancing around he saw the clock. Two in the morning. Was he dreaming? He couldn't remember if he was or not.
As he looked out the window he could see across the courtyard to another room. There was a woman with long dark hair leaning on a desk. She was holding a gun in her hands. And she appeared to be crying. Quickly he grabbed the phone next to his bed and called security and related to them what he was seeing.
"Yes Mr. Fraser. We've had a few other calls about a shot. We've sent security over there already." Fraser thanked them and hung the phone up. His eyes never leaving the window. He watched as she jumped in surprise as the door opened. Security officers entered the room and approached her. She dropped the gun and then she slowly fell to the floor.
Then the security team broke up. Two officers took the woman out of the room. The remaining officer stayed. She was looking at something on the floor and knelt down to check out whatever was there. Fraser continued to watch the room for the net two hours. The police came. Then med techs arrived and he watched as they removed a body. It was a dark haired male.
Fraser was interrupted by a police officer who took his statement on the little that he had seen. Eventually the room across the courtyard went black as all activity ceased. He would ask Ray to check into the details of the case in the morning. Ray had said something about stopping by for a quick visit before he went into work.
Picking up one of his father's journals that Ray had been so kind as to bring him, he began to read. He was awake now. And besides he was sick of doing nothing but sleeping anyway.
Even though he had not wanted to, Fraser had dozed off while reading. He felt Ray's hand on his shoulder gently shaking him awake. "Hey Benny. Benny." "Good morning Ray." "Looks like you had some excitement here last night." Fraser sat up in bed and began to tell Ray what he had seen. Once he had finished with his story he asked Ray to look into it. "Why? It looks like a murder. Cut and dry." "Well yes Ray I can see that. I am just curious as to the details involved." "You're just bored. You haven't had anything to do and now you want the dirt on a case. O.k. I'll get you the details."
Ray and Fraser talked for a few minutes more. Fraser asked questions about Ray's cases. The 27th precinct. How were things with his family. "I gotta' go Benny. I'll drop by after work." "Ray you don't have to. I know how busy you must be." "I said I'll drop by after work. See you then. Have fun in therapy." With a wave and a smile Ray left.
Fraser just sat in his bed looking at the door. There was so much he wanted to say to Ray. So much to discuss. But he just couldn't bring himself to say the words just now. Saying he was sorry just wasn't enough. How could he apologize for all that he did? Taking a deep breath he vowed to himself, that no matter how uncomfortable it was or how embarrassing, he would talk to Ray about everything. He just had to find the right time to do it.
His thoughts were interrupted by a nurse coming into
his room. A very young and pretty nurse. "Good morning Mr. Fraser! Time
for your sponge bath!". she chirped brightly. "I believe that there has
been a mistake. I do not require a sponge bath. I haven't had the need
for one in over a week. "That's not what the chart says here." The nurse
smiled at him stepping forward, sponge in hand. "Oh dear."
Fraser sat on the edge of his hospital bed, stetson in hand. He looked around his room. This was to be his last day here. Ray would be there within the hour to take him home. Home being the Vecchio residence. He was excited about finally leaving the hospital. But he was nervous about going back to Ray's.
It was different when Mrs. Vecchio or Francesca would come to see him in the hospital. Now he would be at their home. The place where Ray had invited Victoria in. Where he had torn apart everything in the search for a key. It was...uncomfortable just thinking about it.
He was now able to walk. He was slow. He still experienced pain. But he was on the path to recovery. Fraser was to continue his therapy on his own and he was scheduled to come back once a week for additional therapy at the hospital.
He had argued with Jill about this but she was adamant. She would not sign his release papers until he agreed to do this. She had him. He did not want to come back. But he definitely did not want to stay in the hospital another day. He had signed the forms in exchange for his freedom.
"Let's hit the road Benny!" Ray greeted Fraser with a huge grin. Ray was practically bouncing around. Fraser could tell that Ray was just as excited as he was about leaving. Ray grabbed the wheelchair and pushed it towards Fraser. "Hop in. It's time to go!" Fraser made a face. "Do I have to? I would really prefer to walk Ray." "Sorry Benny. Hospital rules. You have to take one more spin." Fraser stood there for a minute looking at the wheelchair.
"I'm waiting." Come on Benny. Just get in the friggin' chair so we can get the hell out of here. "I guess you want to stay. I'll tell Ma you didn't want to leave. Being that the food here is so much better than what she's cooking for tonight." That'll get his ass moving thought Ray. "That is not fair Ray", Fraser said as he sat down in the wheelchair.
They made their way down the hallway to the elevator. Ray wasn't surprised when nurses and doctors came up to wish Fraser well. Then they entered the elevator. "Would you care to do the honors?" Fraser stabbed the first floor button a little harder than necessary.
As Ray wheeled him closer to the exit Fraser felt like jumping from the wheelchair and running out of the door. It was all he could do to restrain himself. They were finally outside. Not in the courtyard of the hospital. Outside. Ray stopped. "You're free." Fraser stood up. He closed his eyes raising his face to the sun. Feeling the breeze blow through his hair. He just stood there.
"Benny?" "Yes Ray." He didn't move. "What are you doing?" "Living
Ray." Ray just shook his head and smiled. Some things never changed.
He didn't think that he would ever fully understand Fraser. But he would
enjoy trying to find out who he was behind that wall of silence. "Lets'
go home." "Yes Ray."
The ride to the Vecchio home was quiet. Fraser was busy looking around as they drove. "Benny. What are you doing now?" "Just remembering." Ray figured that it wasn't bad memories because Fraser actually had a small smile on his face.
As Ray pulled into the driveway he noticed that Fraser's quiet now included a tenseness. Ray knew that this would happen. Putting the car into park and turning the ignition off he turned to Fraser. "We're home." Fraser didn't move. "Come on. Let's go in." Ray got out of the Riv. Fraser slowly opened the door and waited for Ray to come around to his side.
"Ray are you sure about this?" Fraser was looking at the house, running his fingers nervously around the brim of his stetson. "Benny we have been over this a million times!" "No Ray. We have only talked about this three times if I recall correctly." "So that means we don't need to go over it again! Go in. Now! I'm hungry and I know that Ma is done making dinner."
Fraser took a deep breath and began to slowly take the steps up the porch. Ray watched his progress, but he didn't move to help him. He doesn't need me to help him anymore. He's doing fine on his own. When he had first watched Fraser in therapy he use to get depressed. But watching him now. Knowing that in a few months he would be almost back to normal. He felt elated. Fraser had come along way from almost dying to this point.
Again Fraser waited for Ray to come to his side. Ray turned the knob and swung open the door and as they stepped into the house they were immediately besieged by the Vecchio clan. Fraser surprised Ray when he didn't back away from Francesca when she reached out to hug him. He even allowed her to kiss him on the cheek.
Mrs. Vecchio was the last to greet him. She walked up to him and enveloped Fraser in a big hug. "Welcome home my son." Her greeting was filled with warmth and love. Ray could tell that Fraser was struggling to control his emotions. But again Fraser surprised Ray by hugging his mother back. "It's good to be home. Ma." His voice was shaky and he had to reach up to wipe tears from his eyes. As he did this he started laughing and hugged her again. "Let us go eat", his mother replied pulling Fraser into the dining room with her.
Leave it to his mother to make everything go the way they should. Getting Fraser to come and live here was a good move. He could let his physical wounds heal as well as his emotional ones. His mother would see to that.
As the evening progressed Ray
continued to observe Fraser. He seemed a changed person. He was more
open and relaxed. And for Fraser he was positively talkative. Ray had
seen him smile more times in this one night than he had seen in the past
few months at the hospital. It was a nice change.
Slowly everyone made their way to bed leaving Ray and Fraser alone in the living room. Fraser was exhausted. This was the latest that he had been up since he had been shot. But he had decided that he would talk to Ray tonight. He might fall asleep while doing it, but he felt that he had to do this now. Before he lost his resolve.
"Ray. Can we talk?" Ray's eyebrows went up. He didn't figure on him opening up so soon. This was a good sign. "Sure Benny." He sat up in his chair. Then Fraser began to talk. He told Ray about how he had met Victoria. What they had been through together. Fortitude Pass. The blizzard. Their near death experience. The night before he turned her in. He told him about her trial and her eventual imprisonment.
Ray was now beginning to understand what Victoria meant to Fraser. Why he had done the things that he did. Some people reacted differently to love. And judging how Fraser was, if he were to love someone it wouldn't be anything short of completely giving his soul up. Fraser never did anything halfway. Unfortunately for him he gave his soul away to a devil in the disguise of an angel.
He continued to talk. About meeting her at the diner. Their nights together. And then all that led up to his being shot by Ray at the train station. Then he stopped talking, slowly leaning back into the chair that he was sitting in. Letting his eyes close. He took a deep breath and looked over at Ray. "I owe you my life Ray. If you hadn't shot me I don't know if I could have lived with myself. I would have eventually been able to see what I do now. I can't apologize enough for putting you through all of this. I'm sorry for everything."
"Benny. You don't need to keep saying you're sorry. We've all been through alot because of this. But we're all the stronger for it. Things will get better. We'll get through this together." Fraser looked at him and smiled. Ray never ceased to amaze him. He had found more than a friend in Ray. He had found himself a brother.
"Thank you Ray. For everything." "No problem Benny." Ray stood up and stretched. "Are you ready for bed or do you want to stay up and watch some t.v.?" "I believe that going to bed sounds good." "Night Benny." Ray started to walk away, but stopped when Fraser called him. He had an embarrassed look on his face. "Uh, Ray? Could you help me up please?" He walked over to Fraser. Reaching out a hand he helped him to his feet. Fraser smiled sheepishly at him. "Goodnight Ray." "Goodnight Benny. See you in the morning."
Fraser watched Ray go up the stairs to his bedroom. Turning he walked into 'his' room. The Vecchio's had converted their den into a makeshift bedroom for him. Dief was stretched out across his bed. Fraser cleared his throat. Dief ignored him. "Excuse me. Diefenbaker. Dief!" He walked over to Dief who had opened one eye and was looking at him. But he still didn't move. "Normally I would sleep on the floor, but my injury still prevents me from doing so. Could you please get up?" Slowly Dief got up. He jumped off the bed onto a chair. He curled up still looking at Fraser. "Thank you."
Fraser undressed and slid into bed. His life had been turned upside down. But with Ray's help things were gradually returning to normal. Lying there he thought of Victoria. He felt empty. Drained. It shocked him at the lack of emotion that she now brought to him. All the passion. All the love. It was gone. It was as if when she had died the connection and hold that she had over him was severed.
The only thing left was a hollow, empty void. Nothing. Fraser was confused. He thought about the past. Victoria's return. The time that they shared. The ensuing horror that she had caused. It all seemed like a dream that when you woke up from it, all you had were bits and pieces. Fading away with the morning.
But he did not want to forget her. Somewhere in her twisted heart, Victoria truly had loved him. But she could not leave all of her bitterness and resentment behind. It had festered within her all those years to the point that what remained of any goodness in her had turned black to match the rest of her soul.
She was evil when he had met her. He just refused to see it. He had thought that she was more like him. That she only had to be shown what was good. It was a mistake that he would never allow himself to make again.
He would stay in Chicago at the consulate. Do his job. If that is what they called it he sighed. And more importantly he would try and repair Ray's trust in him. He knew that Ray had forgiven him. Ray had said so. But until Fraser had forgiven himself he would never feel that relaxed camaraderie that the two had shared before Victoria's return. The thing that Fraser now found that he valued the most in his life was Ray's friendship.