Fandom: The Bill
Genre/Rating: Angst, Friendship/T
Word Count: 1566
Disclaimer: Lyrics © The Fray (How to Save a Life).
Summary: He and Ray shared at least twenty years worth of history and Ray's death hits John Heaton harder than he'd ever let on.
Warnings: Coarse language
Notes: Personally, John not caring when Ray died really annoyed me. They were best friends once. They had so much history and, sure, some of it was pretty bad, but being completely cool with someone you've known for, what, two decades just doesn't sit right with me. So now Heaton angsts (a little). SO THERE, TB WRITERS.
(EDIT: I actually found out recently that I'm related to the actor who plays Heaton. How could is THAT?)
100 themes challenge. This is for number 53: Memory.
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
John Heaton stared at the almost empty bottle of whiskey sitting on his desk in front of him and cursed. Trust Ray bloody Moore to remember his favourite drink after over however many years it had been since they'd been friends.
It had been months since the night Ray died, a little longer since he'd walked in and given John the bottle, but it had lay idly in his office drawer, unfinished, ever since he'd shared some on that night. And he couldn't finish it if he wanted to.
Because when he finished it, that would be the end. There'd be nothing left of the history they shared, neither the friendship nor the hostility, and, somehow, regardless of everything that had happened, John couldn't convince himself that it wasn't a bad thing.
John pounds down the alleyway. He can see the man he's chasing, a man in a black leather jacket, turning the corner just ahead, and feel Ray sprinting just two steps behind, and pushes himself to go just that little bit faster.
Turning the corner, he sees the man coming up to a wire fence and manages to catch up before he climbs over, latching onto his legs and dragging him back to the ground.
"Tom Bolen, I'm arresting you for burglary, you don't, er, you-" John freezes and looks back at Ray in the utmost horror. "I've forgotten the words."
Ray stares at him for a moment and begins to laugh.
"Ray, what's the-"
But Ray just pulls the man from John's hold and does the arrest for him, laughing all the way through it.
Because, if he was honest, the weight that was lifted now he didn't have to worry constantly over Rhiannon and his daughter's safety was replaced by something far heavier. It was grief, but it wasn't. Sadness, fury, pain, but none of them. It was an inexplicable feeling of loss, like the teddy bear a child thinks he no longer needs. But, at the same time, it wasn't.
Ray would just love that; being compared to an unwanted toy. He was probably turning in his grave.
John and Ray are sitting unsteadily on stools in a dingy bar, Ray is raising his half-empty glass in a mock-salute and John is sniggering, leaning against his friend.
"To our first day," Ray cheers, downing the rest of his drink. "Even though you were bloody awful."
"Prat," John says, shoving him.
But instead of the desired effect, both men overbalance and land in a pile of limbs on the dirty bar floor. John's eyes are wide, reflecting his shock on where he's ended up. Ray sees this and lets out a snort of laughter.
And suddenly they're both laughing, hysterically and unstoppably. Not just because they're on the floor, but because they'd lived through their first day, because they'd made it, and because they're in this together.
Grave. Grave. That was still hard to accept. Ray Moore, his best friend and his best enemy, was dead. Even as he watched Ray's body, John had half-expected the man to jump up, saying he was messing with them and then find some loophole so he didn't end up in prison.
"And that was for resisting arrest," Ray is saying viciously when John finds him at last, "and this last one, this one is for Penny Walker, you fucking monster."
John opens to mouth to protest as Ray thrusts a fist into the suspect's stomach. Then he notices the other bruises and the blood.
"Ray! What the hell are you doing?"
Ray turns, his face is set furiously. "I'm teaching him a lesson," he snarls.
It's a new side to him that John has never seen before. And it scares him.
It had seemed like Ray was always and would always be one step ahead. Of everyone. Not just John or the police or his enemies, but all of them at once. He'd seemed invincible since the moment they'd met. Sometimes John wondered if that was what had drawn him towards the Irishman to begin with. A sense of connection to someone who would never fall from his perch.
And it was strange to have such an odd kind of faith in someone after so long. Especially someone he didn't even like, someone he loathed from years of having his fingers slipped through and catching up just a moment too late.
"Sarge? Can I talk to you?"
But it was gone now. Well and truly gone. And he supposed it was just another layer that had been stripped away like a bandaid. It left the little outline that took forever to scrub away and even with all traces gone, the section was still paler than the areas surrounding it.
Ray bumps into him, using his shoulder to painfully hit John's. He doesn't stop, doesn't even look at him, just hisses, "Traitor," and stalks past.
John watches him walk away and, yes, Ray is right, maybe he is, but he did the right thing and that's what counts.
John didn't doubt for a moment that what he chose to do was right. Police officers were meant to uphold the law, not beat suspects half to death. The only way they could teach lessons was by getting justice. And Ray knew both those things and chose to ignore them. That was his fault, not John's.
Ray is standing in front of him, invading his space, and glaring balefully. "Get the fuck out of my house. This is your fault."
John flinches back at the harshness in his former-friend's voice, but replies in kind, "How is this my fault? You spent all your time tormenting her."
And suddenly Ray is shoving him violently against the nearest wall and John can feel by the tightness of Ray's grip he'll have bruises by evening, but Ray is shouting and then someone is pulling him away and threatening to arrest him and it's all a bit hazy because John knew Ray's wife. He'd liked her. And Ray had driven her to suicide.
John straightens his clothing and watches Ray struggling against the officer restraining him. This is Ray's fault and, as usual, he's refusing to shoulder the blame.
"Okay, okay, I've calmed down. You can left me go," Ray growls irritably after he gives up on tearing out John's oesophagus and strangling him with it. Then he straightens his own clothing and says, "She's dead because of you, John. This should be on your conscious."
Then he spits at John's feet and leaves the room.
Ray had always had a history of never taking the blame for anything he'd done wrong. Throwing every loss at John and taking credit for every win was a habit he'd begun early on in their friendship. And it had continued long into the enmity.
Everything he could pin on John, he did. Because otherwise, heaven forbid, he'd have to recognise that he had faults and flaws just like the rest of mankind.
John's hands are latched to the lapels of Ray's jacket. Fury is radiating from both of them and John gives Ray an extra push for good luck. "Don't get too comfortable here, Ray. I'm going to get you this time."
But Ray has a tighter leash on his anger and just laughs, pushing John away, saying casually, "I'm starting to think I need a restraining order made against you. Just can't keep away, can you?"
"I could say the same about you."
Maybe though – maybe it was for the best Ray never saw in himself what John had started to see when they were younger. Maybe it was better that Ray died not realising just what kind of man he was. Because John knew if it were him, that would have driven him mad and he wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Not even Ray.
"Nice try, John," Ray says in his irritating Irish accent, a wicked smirk playing over his lips.
John's own lips form a taut, angry line. He grinds out from between his teeth, "I haven't given up yet."
"You'll never win. You and I both know-"
"What do we both know, Ray? That you did it?" John interrupts. "We both know you did and I can still prove it."
Ray laughs, shaking his head, and pats John's shoulder consolingly in a decidedly obnoxious way. "Good luck, John. You'll need it," he says and saunters off.
John picked the whiskey up, sloshing the liquid within around, and realised why he hadn't been able to finish this. He needed to acknowledge this. To acknowledge what he was feeling and why. And then he could let go.
He unscrewed the lid and poured himself a generous glass, emptying the bottle.
Ray Moore's body lies on the ground, limbs splayed awkwardly.
John can feel bile rising in his throat and swallows it. He puts up a façade of indifference. Of someone who simply wanted his criminal put away. Because showing that he cares, that he's sad that Ray is dead can't possibly be appropriate.
And John has always tried to be nothing but appropriate. Maybe he succeeds this time, maybe he doesn't, but he's not thinking about that anymore. There's only one thing running through his mind now:
It shouldn't have ended this way.
John lifted his glass in a silent toast and puts it to his lips, sculling the whole amount.