This story is the second installment in the Rage Series. Reading Quiet Rage before reading this fiction will greatly enhance your understanding of what is taking place in this fiction.
Title: Rage to be Quiet
Spoilers: BTHD, COTW, Quiet Rage.
I stand here alone looking out the window of my office and wondering where Ray might be. Tears course down my cheeks and I cannot stop them. For weeks since my return I have held my silence, watching and waiting for some sign from Ray, some small sign that he is well. Behind me on the desk is the sign I have waited to see. I want terribly to believe that that the pile of melted tape and plastic was sent to me by Ray. I need to believe that. I have to believe that. If I can't accept that, if I can't believe that then I must conclude it was sent by Ray's enemies; my enemies now, too. I can feel the tension in my shoulders, as tight as it has ever been since my return. The sun is shinning outside hardly reflecting my mood and fears. All too often, I have stood here in this window of late starring out with tears on my face.
Wiping a tear from my face, I can only conclude that this has all been more than I can safely handle. But I have no one with whom to share my terror. I can tell no one. No Ray is here to listen to me. No Ray is here to guide me through this morass of uncivilized behavior directed towards us by those he investigates. I fear that Inspector Thatcher is watching me and that I disappoint her of late. I know Turnbull treads softly around me whether from a need to provide a calming influence over me or because he is just confused by my behavior.
Since returning, I can't stand to have anyone near me, touch me, hug me. I am ashamed of all that happened to me, yet I am proud of Ray's strength. I am a Mountie and should not have fallen prey to that man, Tremmings. God, I need Ray to help me out of this. He has left me the guardianship of his family. This I can gladly do. But even Francesca has watched me closely of late. I fear she sees into my very soul and knows something is very wrong with me. I have become more polite and quieter. Ray Kowalski, my new 'Ray Vecchio' watches me as closely as does Francesca. Neither of them must know the lengths I have gone to hinder their inquiries.
And I cannot, I simply cannot look Mrs. Vecchio in the face. If she knew, surely she would consider me a corrupting influence on her family and then I would not be able to do my duty as Ray requested of me. Therefore, I stand here, tears flowing from my eyes, hands held tightly behind my back and pray. Please let that pile of plastic and celluloid is a sign from Ray. Please God.
I hear my office door open and tighten my shoulders and hold myself still. What will I do if it's the Inspector and she orders me to turn around? There is no way I can hide these tears on my face. No way.
Stanley Raymond Kowalski, aka the new 'Ray Vecchio' held the door to Fraser's office open and stuck his head inside. "Hey, you almost off for the day?" He noted his friends shoulders relax and tension seem to ooze from the red serge. "Pizza, you name it."
"Yes, Ray." Eyes still sought the sunlight outside and didn't turn towards the soft voice of friendship. "Pizza will be fine. Could you give me a minute or two Ray, then I'll be right with you."
Ray walked in and closed the door noting the thinness of his buddy's shoulders. He'd been watching the weight slip off the Mountie for a couple of weeks. He stood there silently watching the man in his almost too large red serge. He was certain he heard Ben sniff, like he'd been crying. Ray's eyes glanced around the office and saw the mess of videotape in the middle of the Constable's desk. Ray cocked his head at the mess and then glanced inquisitively towards Ben. This the detective didn't like, but he was well aware of the fact that if Ben didn't want you to know something then you better count it as a done deal. You would never find what he didn't want you to find. But this time, Ray could just feel that Ben was emotionally sinking and sinking fast. Maybe now was the time to start pushing.
I have changed out of my uniform with shaking hands and my hands still shake as I deposit the message from Ray in its box and place it in my closet. Ray Kowalski has gone from the room and I lean desperately against my closet door. I can hear his footsteps returning from the Consulate water closet and pull myself upright. I adjust my shirt collar and wait for him to make his entrance into my office. I feel he is aware of my instability of thought. Please, God, let me get through another evening, another night. For Ray Vecchio's sake I cannot let anyone into my thoughts; not now, perhaps not ever. I try to smile as I hear the hand on my doorknob. How difficult can eating pizza with Ray be?
"Hey buddy, you ready to leave?"
"Yes, Ray. Quite ready."
The two men leave the Consulate behind them and set out for Ray's favorite pizza place. The silence in the GTO is almost deafening to Fraser. It is the fear that if he says anything at the moment that he will come unraveled and totally exposed that keeps Fraser quiet. Ray drives his beloved GTO towards their waiting deluxe pizza with pineapple on top while taking side-glances at Fraser. Worry begins to crease his brow and his intuitive feeling that something is very wrong with Fraser fills his mind as he drives. Pulling up in front of his favorite pizza establishment, Ray smiles at Fraser.
"Be right back."
A nod of his head and Fraser slides down in his seat as he watches the back of his 'partner' disappear into the carryout place. He almost but not quite closes his eyes.
The pizza smells enticing as I follow Ray up the stairs and I wonder for the tenth time since leaving the Consulate tonight just why I am here. Why am I putting myself in a possible position of exposure? Is that what I want? I have trusted this Ray with my life, but can I trust him with more than that, perhaps my very soul? Ray opens his apartment door and I follow him inside, my stomach wrenching with the fear that I will let something slip. I try to smile and lay my Stetson down on a side table while I watch Ray place the pizza box down on the coffee table over the myriad items already laid out there.
"Tea, hot or cold? Or do would you like some of that designer water stuff. Got some." Ray waltzed on light feet towards his refrigerator even though his stomach was tied in knots from trying to ignore uncharacteristic severe paleness and thinness of the Mountie.
"Whatever is easiest Ray." Fraser claimed his usual spot on the sofa and waited politely for Ray to join him before opening the box.
Ray gamboled into the living room area carrying their drinks and plunked himself down in his favorite chair. He set the drinks down and grabbed at the pizza box and fumbled the lid open.
Both men took their first piece of pizza and ate quickly, almost inhaling the thick slices in their hands. Fraser felt his stomach practically calling for more, but he hesitated in taking a second piece.
Ray watched Fraser in his peripheral vision and noticed the hesitant movement of his friend's hand towards another piece.
"You gotta eat more than one piece. Otherwise you'll make me feel bad for pigging out...Come on buddy, wrap your molars around another piece."
Ben looked at Ray quickly not wanting to reveal the pain in his eyes that he knew must be evident and politely took another piece of pizza in his hand.
"That's right. I don't want to put leftovers in the fridge. So eat up. OK?"
I sit here stuffing another piece of pizza in my mouth fully realizing that Ray is aware of my weight loss of late. I wonder what else he has noticed. I shall have to make a note to eat better in his presence, perhaps that will still his curiosity. But I have a feeling I have walked into a well-set trap this evening. And like the captured wolf whose paw is grabbed in the trap I wonder if I can free myself.
Ray watched Fraser finish his second piece of pizza and noted the tenseness of the man sitting with him. He watched the pulse beat its rhythm in the little vein that ran down Fraser's forehead towards his left eye. He waited for Fraser to rub his eye, counting the beats of the man's heart. Ray chomped on his fourth piece of pizza and smiled like a sated cat and leaned back into his easy chair.
"I'm two pieces ahead o you Fras...Come on, eat up." He smiled. "Dief isn't here to compete with us for each piece. Enjoy yourself."
"Dief is going to be upset he missed this. You have no idea how he can make you pay and pay. He's quite the nagger you know."
"Ya, I know the wolf likes to let his wishes be known. Speaking of the wolf, did you see him grinning at Franny the other day?"
"Yes, and I had a long talk with him about that. His answer was quite lascivious I must say. He claimed he wouldn't look at her like that if she didn't dress so provocatively and smell so wonderful. He said she's changed shampoo scents and he likes this one. He's really getting quite out of hand in his regards to the human female form."
"Oh, yea. Dief has good taste. That dark blue skirt Franny wore the other day was too sweet. You smell her hair? She's a walking time bomb."
Fraser cast a glare at Ray. "Really, her skirt was a bit short, but still quite her style. Her hair smells like a lemon grove just as the fruit is ready to be picked. Quite freshb smelling."
"So you do pay attention to her?"
"Why would I not Ray, she is the sister of one of my best friends."
"Fras, so you admit you are a Franny watcher, like the rest of us guys."
"I admit I am aware of her. Franny watcher?"
"Well, you ain't her big brother. You like what you see, don't you?"
"Francesca is an admirable looking woman."
"You like her." Ray said with a grin. "You ever gonna ask her out?"
I am sitting here and letting Ray bait me. Why? I could so easily turn this discussion to another venue of topic. I could turn the conversation to the making of shampoo or lemon groves for instance. But I won't. I will sit here and try my best not to as Ray would say, confuse the issue. The clock is striking 7, I wonder if Ray has noticed.
Ray watched Fraser think and could imagine the wheels and cogs grinding in that Canadian skull. He laughed inwardly as he realized he had finally gotten a small hint from Fraser that he was a 'Franny watcher'.
"Jim Gabrielsen over at the one-five stopped by the two-seven the other day. Boy did he give Franny the once over. She laughed and popped her gum right in his face."
"Did he bother her unduly Ray?"
"Come again, Fras?"
"I mean did he seem to step beyond the bounds of propriety?"
"Do you ever speak without wrapping your thoughts up in tidy packages Fras?"
Fraser looked at Ray and seemed to collapse a little into himself. Ray watched the set of Fraser's hands as they were kept in rigid military form on Fraser's knees. Not good, he thought. He's all wrapped up tight inside.
"I can speak in less formal modes, yes. Was this Jim Gabrielsen bothering Francesca unduly?"
"Unduly? Well, if you mean did he have his eyes up her skirt and down her top, yea I guess he was trying to be all over her." Ray watched the look on Fraser's face take on that fierce protective look he wore when he was about to tackle a problem.
"Perhaps I should speak to the gentleman in question."
"And what, tell him to back off cause you're interested? That ain't like you Fraser."
"It wouldn't be seemly for me to pursue Francesca, Ray."
"And why not. Are you or are you not interested in her, as a woman I mean." Ray watched the gray-blue eyes turn a bit dreamy then drop into closed mode. Oh yea, Fraser was interested all right.
"I cannot pursue her while she..."
"While she what Fras."
Fraser looked at his watch and rose quickly. "Oh Dear. I promised Diefenbaker I would be in by 7:30 so he could have a run in the park. Would you mind Ray if I left now Ray?"
"You're not going to answer me are you?"
"Not at this point in time Ray, no." Fraser looked at him with pleading eyes.
"You want a lift?"
"No, I need to stretch my legs after being sedentary all day."
I stand there in the middle of Ray's living and I am pleading with him to let it drop. For now it seems that he will. But I don't think he will be held at arm's length for long.
I exit Ray's apartment building and jam my Stetson onto head. I begin walking in the direction of the Consulate with quick, stretching strides. Ray is not going to be easy to fool. I feel rather like one of our suspects he has attacked in the interrogation rooms at the two-seven. I better pay more attention to myself when he is around. This is not going to be easy. Maybe walking the long way around to the Consulate will earn me a complete night's rest. I quicken my pace and head towards the labyrinth of alley's and side streets I use to reach the Consulate rather than following the more direct path. My heart hurts and my head feels heavy as I walk, for I cannot forget my promise to Ray Vecchio and I cannot stop thinking about the refreshingly clean smell of Francesca's hair the last time I stood next to her. My feelings though must not come into this. My promise must take precedent over what I need or feel.
Two dark clothed figures moved stealthily along behind the Mountie using the shadows for cover. They move easily in the shadows are where they live their life. They wait until he turns down a particularly dark and lonely alley before they motion to someone a head of them.
Ray picked up the pizza box and tore it to shreds relieving the tension and frustration he felt about the Mounties's refusal to be baited. He wandered back to his chair and picked up his TV remote and began flipping through channels. He put the remote down when he found a program to his liking. He glanced down at the table as he set the remote on it and saw a piece of paper lying there. Picking it up, he realized it was a dry cleaning ticket. He smiled and used the remote to turn off the TV. Here was his perfect reason for following Fraser and having another try at the man.
Ray grabbed his car keys and a light jacket and rushed from his apartment bounding down the stairs two at a time with a satisfied smirk on his face. Fraser was gonna be tackled in his own lair.
"Look behind you son." Robert Fraser said as he joined his son striding down the alley. "I don't think those gents are out for an evening constitutional.
Fraser kept his stride long and clipped as he began to listen behind him. He could tell that there were perhaps two men tailing him. He searched the alley in front of him for a good place to turn and face those following him. He turned to face them suddenly and stopped in his tracks when he realized there was a third man behind him. He turned his head and saw the man's head in the shadows. He waited for one of them to make the first move.
His would be attackers circled him drawing closer to him step by step. Fraser turned slowly trying to keep note of each attackers location. One man came too close and Fraser struck out with his leg in a wide swiping swing. The man danced back into the shadows letting one of his partners move in behind Fraser. One of the attackers leapt in behind Fraser and pulled down on his jacket collar with the clear intent of dragging Fraser off his feet. Fraser tried ducking forward when he felt the pull on his jacket. He tried turning into the grasping hand reaching to grab his arm and throw the man over his shoulder. Before his hand connected with his assailant's arm, another of the assailant's tackled him with a strong hold around his waist. The two men went down heavily. Before they hit the ground, the other two men fell on Fraser too. He twisted and turned and tried pull free.
"Hang on son." Robert Fraser yelled. "Hang on!"
Ray drove his GTO along the direct route he knew Fraser usually took from his apartment to the Consulate. The smile dropped from his face when he realized he should have neared the walking figure of Fraser several blocks ago. He circled a block and turned back in the other direction. Drat the man, he was in those alleys again.
Robert Fraser sat in the GTO next to Ray Kowalski and smiled. "You're a smart one. But you better hurry, the boy's got himself in trouble again." He leaned a hand on the dash and thrust his head forward as if pulling the car along with him.
One of his attackers repeatedly hit Fraser in the stomach while another tugged and pulled and immobilized Fraser with his own jacket brought down around his arms. He tried kicking out, but the third man managed to elude his swinging feet. The man holding his jacket thrust a hand around Fraser's neck and squeezed cutting of his air intake.
"Mancioni's friends say 'Hi'", the man whispered into Fraser's ear as he watched the Mountie trying to breath. The man motioned to his cohorts. "Now."
One man pulled on Fraser's belt and undid it and undid the jeans fastening. The other man began unbuttoning Fraser's shirt. "Mancioni showed us the tape. You know the one. Don't you?" he laughed and continued unbuttoning the flannel shirt. "This make you nervous?" He ran a hand over the pale skin being exposed in the dim alley light. He let his hand trail slowly over Fraser's chest until he could actually feel Fraser's bellybutton. He could feel the skin beneath his hand shrinking away from him and he smiled.
The man on Fraser's legs was attempting to get Fraser's jeans down to his knees when Ray Kowalski's shadow crept towards the darkened side of the alley. The three men holding on to Fraser were literally on top of him, preventing him from moving against them. Ray waded in and grabbed the collar of the man choking Fraser to control him. He wrenched the man back on his heels and slammed a foot into the man. He whirled around and locking his fists together swung at the man with his hands in Fraser's shirt. The blow connected and the man fell off of Fraser and looked up into the shadows. The third man didn't wait to be attacked but rose and took off in a blind run down the alley. His accomplices followed him at breakneck speed. They were gone almost before Ray was on his knees beside a gasping Fraser.
Ray held the shaking form to him. "It's OK. They're gone." Ray hitched Fraser's jacket back up to his shoulders and pulled the shirtfront closed. "I think we need to get you to a hospital."
Fraser grabbed at Ray frantically, "No, no hospital. I'm alright." The whispered voice was fiercely controlled. "Promise, no hospital."
Ray searched Ben's shadowed face. "Then you are coming back to my place and you're gonna talk. You got that Fraser, you're gonna talk. I knew one of those creeps and this was not a Sunday joy ride. So you gonna talk at my place or do I haul you to a hospital?"
"Your place." Ben gasped as he tried to regulate his breathing. "No hospital."
"OK. Let's get you into my car."
"That's right Yank. Make him tow the line. The only way you'll get anything out of him is to drag it out of him. I know. Took hours to get that boy to tell the truth about that boomerang. Hours." Robert Fraser watched his son's form disappear towards the GTO supported by the smaller man. "Talk to him son. Maybe he can help. But talk." And as he finished the last words, Robert Fraser disappeared into the shadows.
I kept my eyes closed the entire trip to the apartment. Ray wouldn't let me negotiate the stairs by self. He hauled me into the elevator and stood with his arm around my trembling form the entire time the elevator rose to his floor. I can't believe I am back sitting in the same spot in which I sat less than an hour ago. I wish I could vanish into thin air, but that would accomplish nothing. The pain in my ribs is nothing to the pain of the humiliation I feel at the position in which Ray found me. I can still feel his hands rearranging my clothing because I was too winded from being choked to cover myself decently. He is always warning me to stay out of dark places. Ray Vecchio warned me of this too. But I have a feeling that these men would have found me regardless of my location. I can only be glad I was alone when the attack began and neither Ray nor Francesca was there to be hurt or used against me. I have no idea how far these men would have gone, but I have an idea Ray would have been appalled had he found me rather later than he did. I can't let this happen again. But I'm not sure I can talk about it either. I can hear Ray preparing an ice bag in his kitchen and I know he is not going to let me off easily.
Ray stalked back towards his living room area carrying crushed ice in a towel. He walked up in front of Fraser and threw it in his lap.
"That should help. Now talk. And I don't want any preva, prevari..."
"Ya, that's the word, none of that. I ask the questions, you answer. You know the drill."
"Yes, Ray. I do."
"OK. Do you know the guys that attacked you?"
"Do you have an idea why they attacked you?"
"OK. Let's start there. What's your connection to one of Mancioni's boys? He's big time Fras. Big time. What does he have to do with you?"
Silence filled the room. Fraser closed his eyes and sat immobile letting the ice take some of his pain away.
"This wasn't an elegant hit, Fraser. This was meant to get your attention."
"This have something to do with that pile of melted celluloid on your desk this afternoon? Or the fact that you ain't been eating right for several weeks. And I'll bet you ain't been sleeping right either."
Fraser continued his silence as he applied the ice to his ribs with his jaw set in a stubborn line.
"Don't go sulking on me? You agreed to answer my questions, didn't you?"
"So answer me."
"I can handle this Ray."
"Oh ya, I can see how you're handling this. Your hand is shaking so bad you can't hold that ice in place and your eyes have sunken shadows under them. Talk Fras, now."
Fraser's silence echoed in the room like a bomb going off. Ray almost wanted to hit Fraser himself. He hated having to browbeat his friend. Ray wondered if Fraser knew just how hard this was for him.
"You know how I would have felt if I had been a few minutes later, Fraser? Do you? Or maybe, next time Franny or Meg or I will have to identify your body in a hospital bed or in the morgue, is that what you want?"
At the mention of Francesca's name, Fraser sat bolt upright but still uttered not a word. Fraser's beautiful hands clasped together as he sat silent, his lips held in a tight line.
"You promised to talk Fraser. Spill it now or I lift that phone and get the EMT's to take you away. You listening Fraser?"
"For the first time in my life, I'm scared Ray."
"Yea, I can see that. But I can't help you if you won't spill the beans here Fraser. I need you to open up that mouth and talk to me. Can you do that?"
I sit here listening to Ray and feel my whole body quaking. The shame I feel at what almost happened to me blocks my throat so that I can hardly breath. Ray has noted the shadows under my eyes. I am finding it increasingly difficult to sit here and say nothing. The secret I hold inside me threatens to take over my entire being, but still I find it difficult to share it. After all the secret belongs to the real 'Ray Vecchio' as much as to myself. Would that 'Ray' forgive me the telling of our sad tale? Would he forgive me for breaking his trust? And if that trust is broken, how will it affect Francesca and this 'Ray'?" My ribs hurt and I can hardly keep my eyes open. But Ray is waiting and I wish I could answer him easily.
Ray finally stood up over the Mountie and gave an exasperated sigh. He went over to his bedroom door and disappeared for moment and returned with a pillow and a blanket.
"I'm your friend Fras. Remember that, OK?" Ray laid the pillow down on the sofa and knelt in front of the Mountie. He began unlacing the heavy, ankle high boots and removed them quickly before Fraser even realized what was happening. Ray stood up and leaned over the Mountie and gently removed Fraser's jacket, keeping up a monologue of soft words. He pushed the Mountie down and lifted his feet up onto the sofa and put a sofa pillow under the stockinged feet. He kept a close eye on Fraser's closed eyes as he covered the Mountie with a blanket.
"You rest. I can see you're worn out. But you're gonna have to talk to me in the morning or we'll be seeing both our bosses before noon. You hear me on that Ben? Tomorrow mornings your last chance to keep this thing private. Understand?"
I keep my eyes closed as Ray keeps talking. It's all I can do to keep my breathing steady as he touches me. I can feel myself panicking and want to scream out for him to get away. He moves away and leaves me here alone in the dark of his living room before my panic can overtake me. I would love to leave, but he's taken my boots into his room with him. I am alone in this room with my thoughts and memories. I am so alone as the dark room envelopes me and I drift off into what I know will be a dream filled sleep. I fight it, but I know I am losing and sleep will soon overtake me.
Ray turned out the lights and stood by his bedroom door intending to crash in his own bed. His frustration was so strong that it seemed almost like a tangible item that he could pick up and throw at will. He was about to cross the threshold towards his nice soft bed when he heard sounds coming from the sofa. His attention caught by Fraser's mumblings, Ray dropped his head and sighed then made his way to his favorite easy chair. He sat there awake for most of the night listening to Fraser's mumblings. Ray was able to hear bits and pieces of Fraser's ramblings but nothing that made sense. Towards dawn things became much clearer. Ray was finally drifting off to sleep when Fraser started a mumbling stream of words at almost screaming volume.
"Please, Ray I can't do this. I can't" Ray heard the words and sat upright in his chair and thought about waking the Mountie.
"Can't see. -Oh God. That's Ray at the door. Oh God."
Ray kept listening and moved towards the edge of his chair but made no further movement towards Fraser.
"Cuff hurts. Heels again. I can't even see this outfit I have to wear. No more pills. Please no more. Ray, I'm sorry Ray. Forgive me Ray. Promise Ray. I promise. - I can't see you Ray. Cold in here. Pantyhose pinch Ray. Protect Franny. I promise Ray. I want to stay Ray. Please, no. That hurts. Ray, do we have to do this? Ray, please stop. RAY! Oh God! Make the pain stop. Ray! Ray, promise you'll come back. Please Ray, I can't do this. You have to come back."
Stanley Raymond Kowalski knew he was hearing bits and pieces of what Fraser was hiding from him. The words he was hearing didn't make sense. Ray was surprised most by the fact that all the Mounties's ramblings seemed to be about Ray Vecchio and not about what almost happened in that dark alley. Ray sat back quietly to wait.
I can feel the horror of my nightmare holding me tight in it's grip. It is the same jumble of memories I have dealt with since I left Ray in that place. My throat is as tight as it is every morning, which tells me that I have once again been screaming my sleep. At the Consulate there is no one to hear my loud mutterings. Unfortunately, I am not there in my own cot, but lying on Ray Kowalski's sofa in his apartment. I listen carefully before I open my eyes. He is nearby. I open my eyes to find him staring at me with eyes that tell me he is close to figuring out my puzzling behavior. Regretting the movement, I move to sit up and find his eyes riveted on me. At last, I know there is no escape.
"Go take a shower Fraser. I'll make us some breakfast. We'll eat and you'll talk. I'll listen. Whatever it is, I can help. OK?"
"I said go shower Fraser. No more games, no more hiding. Just go. Breakfast will be ready when you get back out here."
Ray watched the shoulders droop a bit before settling into their normal ridged set. He heard the water running in the bathroom as he opened his refrigerator.
Fifteen minutes later the two men sat at Ray Kowalski's table. Ray sipping his smartie laced coffee and Fraser staring down at his plate laden with toast and eggs.
I realize finally that I must confide in this new 'Ray'. He is like Dief in pursuit of a jelly donut. And after last night, I realize I cannot hold out against him. For myself, I think I'll lose my sanity if I don't confide in him. He has heard my night terrors and I believe he will keep at me until I disgorge all the ugly details. So I shall begin. I shall tell him what I must. Perhaps, if he stands with me, I can fight this. My greatest fear has been that something will happen to me and then who will be left to protect Francesca and the Vecchio family. I trust this Ray Vecchio no less than the original. Perhaps, together we can stave off harm to the Vecchio family left behind. Perhaps, if he can help me, I can finally get some rest. Perhaps, if I tell him the whole story he won't be disgusted by what Ray did to save our lives. Perhaps. I see him staring at me and know I must begin.
"It started several weeks ago when Inspector Thatcher asked me to retrieve a package. A simple enough task in itself, but it was the start of the worst 48 hours in my life. She sent me to see a Mr. Tremmings; I doubt that is his name. I was to retrieve the package, return it to the consulate and begin my free weekend off. They must have known my solitary life style would mean no one would miss me. They served me iced tea with some kind of drug in it. By the time I went up to meet Mr. Tremmings who had presumably just returned to his room, I was already too drugged to realize that something was wrong."
Ray Kowalski sat and listened quietly, his stomach churning badly as he listened to the tale of a kidnapping and a rape, for that is what it was despite the way Fraser described it. But from Kowalski's point of view, two men were raped not one. He didn't doubt in the least that Ray Vecchio had done what he must under duress to save his friend and his family and ultimately himself. Ray Kowalski listened and became proud of the two men he helped by pretending to be 'Ray Vecchio'. He watched the gentle face in front of him as the tears slid down the pale face and the hands griped the table edge. As he listened, he knew that they would stand together. They would protect and serve, that was the saying on the Chicago PD vehicles. They would survive this together, as partners, as friends. He would help Fraser make sure Ray Vecchio had a family to come home to and to a waiting friend named Fraser.
I am stand here looking out my window waiting for the new Ray Vecchio as the sun is setting. Soon it will be time for sleep, but I don't fear sleep anymore. Sleep has ceased to hold its terrors out to me. My new partner, the new 'Ray Vecchio', has bolstered me and buoyed me in the past days and weeks since I divulged all that passed in Las Vegas between the real Ray Vecchio and myself. He has found small ways to lend me support when I feel the most lost. He is as careful as I in making sure that no one suspects our private war. One of the men who attacked me that night here in Chicago has turned up dead. Neither Ray nor I had a hand in that death. I think of all the people he may have caused to suffer fear or worse and for once in my life I can't be sorry about someone's death.
Ray has established contact with some of his snitches and let it be known that he is my friend and anyone attacking me takes Ray on as an enemy also. He said that he was sure Mancioni's men got the message the night of the attack when one of the men recognized him. I know there have been no further attacks and Ray is quite sure no one is following me. So for now we keep vigilant and wait. We wait for the real Ray Vecchio's return.
Ray Kowalski pulled his GTO up to the curb in front of the Canadian Consulate building. He glanced up at Fraser's window as he ran up to the front door and let himself inside. He walked past Turnbull with a nod of his head and stuck his head inside Fraser's door.
"Hey, you ready for pizza. We leave now by the time we get there it will just be coming out of the oven." Ray grinned.
"Give me a moment to grab my Stetson Ray."
The two men left the consulate building, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder. In minutes they were on their way for another pineapple pizza.