Author: butterfly ghost PM
Painful memories come up for Fraser and Vecchio, as each man struggles to deal with monsters from their past, while saving a runaway child from his own demons.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Crime/Angst - Benton F. & Ray V. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 14,022 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 02-20-12 - Published: 02-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7849229
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
For the longest time Benny didn't want to wake up. He felt safe down here, in the dark. Above him, in the real world, he could hear people coming and going, but distantly. Far far away. He was at the bottom of a well. Nobody could get him here.
Ray hated hospitals. So did his mother... she spent six hours complaining to the doctor that all she had was a headache, and how old was he anyway, twelve? She wanted a real doctor if she was going to have stitches. Ray recognised the fright in her voice, and held her hand till it was over. She was a tough old nut. He smiled. She didn't even take bed rest at home. She just started tidying the place up, teaching Calum how to make linguine, and singing hymns in Italian at the top of her lungs.
It took Ray a little longer. The kick to his stomach had cracked ribs, the kick to his face had concussed him, and as he went down hard an old fracture to his skull had opened up again. After back up arrived and took in the suspect Ray started vomiting and the dizziness kicked in so he had to lie down. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, and he tried to pass it off, but it was enough that the hospital held him in for a couple of days.
He'd spent enough time in hospitals over the years. But now he was worrying about someone else. At first he'd thought his friend was invincible, some sort of superman, leaping from tall buildings and running cars to a halt in pursuit of the bad guy. That illusion was shattered when Buck Frobisher, a friend of Fraser's father, arrived in Chicago, on the run from a major bad guy. The injury Benny took on that occasion hurt Ray in a way he could never have expected. He'd had partners injured before, been injured himself … but Fraser? Well, it was unthinkable. One minute he was running, jumping, fighting, fearless, the next he was helpless, stabbed in the leg with a hunting knife. Ray remembered the fear he'd felt then, watching his partner bleed, thinking he would lose him. It was only then that he realised how much he loved the big galoot, how much Fraser had become the big brother he'd never had.
Ray had never wanted to sit watching Fraser weak again, or in pain. He pulled a face. Yet here they both were. Both waiting... for something.
He looked across at his friend, still sleeping. This time it was different. Fraser had come through surgery with no complications. The battering he had taken had resulted in colourful bruises, but then, Ray was no oil painting at the moment either. The thing was, they'd both been battered and bruised before. The doctors told him that they could find no reason why Fraser was still asleep.
He just wouldn't wake up.
"Nice to see you on your feet, Vecchio," Welsh stated, gruffly.
"Thank you sir. No long term harm." He'd been gone four days. The doctors told him to take longer, but he wanted to see this case through. For Calum, for his Ma, for Benny.
"So, how's he doing?"
Ray sighed. "The same. Physically he's getting better, but he's not awake yet."
Welsh looked over Ray's shoulder, failing to make eye contact. He didn't want the officer to feel uncomfortable, and he didn't really know what to say or do anyway. So instead of expressing any more concern for the Mounty he hastened to sum up business.
"Well, we do have some good news. There's been some major advances in the case. Fraser's deduction about the boy's family being Irish turned up good. We found his grandmother."
"Oh yeah? What good is she," Vecchio said sourly, "she never reported him missing."
"As a matter of fact, yes, she did."
"She did? Why didn't it turn up in a missing person's report?"
"We were looking in the wrong place."
"We did a nationwide search."
"Well, Elaine had a brainwave. We decided to cast our nets further, and it turns out that this little boy was snatched, two and a half years ago, from his family in Ireland."
"Ireland? You're kidding me... how did they get him in the country?"
Welsh leaned forward, a triumphant look on his face.
"Well, you know that business you've been investigating the last year and a half, all that illegal fighting we've been hearing about? This case of yours cracked open a kiddy fighting ring that was smuggling children into the country from all over the world. They smuggle them in crammed into container trucks, forge documents, give them new names, keep them in dives, pretending they're family. They take vulnerable children. Your boy was orphaned, and his grandmother was raising him alone. And half the kids forget they ever had a real family, or what they used to be called. This lad Calum, he's a strong kid. He remembered who he was. Remembered his name, his grandmother. That's how we found her, that and Fraser's linguistic analysis." Welsh smiled. "Got to admire the Red Guy... we'd never have picked up on that."
"So... all this has happened in the last four days?"
Welsh nodded. "The guy you arrested turned out to be a contract killer working for some of the big gangs and families. He rolled over for the FBI."
"Well, they've got to have some uses. What about the guy the kid was hiding from... did he turn up?"
"Yeah, and a half a dozen other adults in on it, including one woman, and fifty seven kids."
"Fifty seven?" Ray blinked, appalled at the scale of it.
"There are more, a lot more, but now we've got a handle on this thing we're tracking them down."
"Wow... you've been busy."
"Anyway... when you get home there's good news for your little house guest."
"Oh?" Ray lifted his eyebrows questioningly. "What's that?"
Welsh smiled now, a thoroughly happy expression on his face for once. "His grandmother is coming over on the plane. She's landing tomorrow."
"Oh that's... that's wonderful." Ray was speechless. How had this all happened so quickly?
Welsh started to shuffle his papers together, preparing to dismiss his officer. "We've had everyone working the case," he said, answering Ray's unspoken thought. "You did good," he said, "you and the Mounty, you did real good."
"Thank you sir."
"And Vecchio, you've done enough being a hero." Welsh gave him a sharp look. "Take your sick days. We can finish this without you killing yourself. Just keep an eye on the kid, and the Red Guy, and your Mom. You've had a hell of a week."
Tell me about it, Ray thought, as he took his leave. Tell me about it.
In the hospital ward an old Mounty sat next to the sleeping Benton, gazing at him with a troubled expression on his face.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you son," Bob Fraser said, although he knew well his son wouldn't hear him, or wouldn't remember it when he woke up. "You were so young, and you didn't remember. I kept meaning to write about it, so you'd understand when you grew up... but how could I write that down? I never had the words for it." The old man shook his head. "Two days," he said, "two days she lay there. I came back, and you'd fallen where you stood. Passed out maybe. Half in and half out of that damned wardrobe... I could never look at it again. Had to gut the whole damn house." Silence. "I'm sorry, son, you don't want to hear about my decorating." He laughed at himself, though there was precious little humour in his laughter. Then he sighed, "I came in, I thought you were both dead. There she was, her precious blood all over the floor, and there you were, cold as ice. If I hadn't seen a pulse in your neck I'd have run right out into the snow... and I don't know what I'd have done. I thought I lost you son." He pulled a face at himself, remembering. "And then, because I couldn't bear it, because you were so like her, your looks, your little ways..." there was a catch in his throat as he confessed it, "I ran away again, like I always ran from you. And I lost you anyway."
Benton stirred in his sleep, and his father gently put his hand on his son's chest. "You feel that, son? Your heart beating? That's a good thing. Your mother died protecting you. She'd want you to be happy. She'd want you to wake up. I know you'll not remember, not when you're waking, but just remember this. Your mother and your father... we loved you. We still do. Wake up, son."
The ghost waited a moment, but his son slept on. When the nurse came in to change the sheets the old man faded, and was gone.
Calum had already been to see "Deefybaker", who was making a good recovery at the vets', and then over Ma Vecchio's objections, insisted on going to see Fraser before he left. Mrs Vecchio was worried that the boy would take away a bad memory of Fraser, and wanted to protect him from yet more grief. But Calum insisted. Newly reunited with his grandmother he seemed more confident than before, and besides, Mrs McMullen wanted to meet the man who had done so much for her boy. She had almost given up when the Gardai turned up on her door with the unexpected, so much longed for news. She had been crying for days, almost unable to believe it, until she stepped off the plane and saw Calum waiting, taller than she remembered, solemn eyed, a skinny balding man on one side, a sturdy motherly figure on the other. The reunion was all she could have hoped for, holding him in his arms, kissing his poor bruised skin, bathing in his happiness. She couldn't thank the Vecchio's enough. Even if he wasn't awake she wanted to acknowledge the other man who had protected her grandson.
Fraser looked perfectly peaceful when they walked in. "He must be having nice dreams," Calum said, matter of factly.
"I hope so," said Ray.
Mrs McMullen started to dab at her eyes, and turned away. She didn't want her boy to see her cry.
Calum walked to the side of the bed, and stood up on the chair to be tall enough. "I just wanted to say, thank you Fraser. You were right, everything's going to be alright." And then, solemnly, he dropped a kiss on Fraser's forehead... not in the desperate clingy way that he had done earlier on, but as a child might kiss his big brother. "I hope you wake up soon."
It was like rushing up from dark water, the silence receding, and the voices coming ever closer. Fraser could feel himself return to himself, and heard the little boy and Ray speaking, heard Ma Vecchio and the Irish woman praying their rosary, at a loss for anything else to do. And as he heard the voices he remembered that it was good that his heart beat, and his chest rose and fell, and that life abounded, and joy.
He blinked, and opened his eyes. Turned his head slightly. Saw the relief and delight on Ray's face, the peace that had settled upon Calum, the warmth in the whole room.
"Benny!" Ray promptly made a fool of himself, and threw his arms round his friend. He didn't care. The two women raised their arms, rejoicing.
Calum simply smiled.
Fraser smiled back. He put his arms around his friends, his two brothers, and squeezed.
It was good to be home.