Steady as Wind
Summary: Syl ran east from Manicore. She never expected to meet a friend of the transgenics in the Chicago PD.
Spoilers: 'And Jesus Brought a Casserole' for Dark Angel (Season One). And the Season One finale of Due South. Sequel to 'Warm as Ice.'
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Krit jackknifed in bed, his hand curling around the blade under his pillow. Benton frowned upon him having a gun, but turned a blind eye to knives that he might acquire. Krit glared at the balding man who had invaded their tiny temporary housing and now wrapped Benton in an extended hug.
"Ray," Benton grinned as he returned the hug. "You're looking good."
"You too, you too."
"What are you doing here? I'm surprised the chief let you come."
Ray shrugged and grinned some more. Krit decided that he didn't like this man who received more than a polite response from Benton. "I'm here to see you. The chief insisted. We're hoping that we can talk you into coming back to the states. We could really use your help."
Benton shook his head. "You know I can't. I'm needed here to keep the order."
"I guessed. But that was just how I talked the chief into letting me come. I really wanted to meet the kid that has you asking me for favors."
"Chris?" Benton called. Krit rushed to his guardian's side, his dark eyes glaring at Ray. Benton didn't notice.
Ray might have, but what he said was, "I thought the name was Krit."
"Frobisher suggested that the name was too unusual."
"Good point." Ray held out his hand. "Nice to meet you, Chris. How's your medicine holding up?"
"Good, sir." Krit shook the stranger's hand because that would be how Benton would want it.
"Fraser?" new voice joined the conversation. A head poked into the tiny room where Krit and Benton stayed.
"Frobisher," Ray greeted him.
"Detective Veccico, I need to borrow Fraser for a moment."
Ray smiled and waved a hand. "Don't worry about it. I want to get to know Kri…s here. Take all the time you need." Ray only waited until the two red-suited men left and closed the door. Then he whirled on Krit with unexpected speed and seriousness. "Let's get one thing straight, kid: You hurt Bennie, or take advantage of him and I will hunt you down and make you pay. I don't care how fast or smart Bennie says you are, I will find you and I damn will get you. Capech?
Krit blinked at the fierceness. He had thought that he was the only one in Benton's sphere capable of such feeling. "Understood, sir. I am here to ensure that no one can hurt Benton."
Ray judged his intentions and finally nodded. "Good luck there. Bennie worst enemy's himself. Jumping outta windows…"
Krit nodded. "I have noticed, sir. He does have excellent balance though."
"I've noticed," Ray said back. A beat. "We good?"
"We are united in our goals."
"Good. I'm guessing that since Bennie asked me to get the supplements that someone might try to find you through them."
Krit paused to re-evaluate the American before him. He was smarter than he looked. He was completely loyal to Benton. He was their first line of defense. "True."
"What should I be on the lookout for?"
"A man named Donald Lydecker. He could have any of a number of identifications, military or CIA most probable. He will have pictures, of several children my age and he'll mention the tattoo on the back of our necks. He will kill anyone in his way."
Ray nodded and then became curious. "Can I see your tat?"
Krit hesitated. Benton had gone out of his way to hide the markings, but this man was his friend. Finally he turned around and waited. The hand was gentle, but clumsy. Krit could hear the sharp intake of breath and then the hands turned Krit to face Ray. The man was leaning down into Krit's face, but he wasn't trying to intimidate this time.
"If anything happens to Bennie, promise me that you will come straight for me. I've got an entire city to hide you in. Promise me." The hands tightened and shook slightly.
"I… I promise."
Ray sighed with relief and then he pulled out a business card, wrote on the back and handed it to Krit. "This has all my numbers, my address and even my mom's phone number and my boss's number. For them, just say you're a friend from Canada and they'll let you stay."
Krit read the numbers, memorized them and then tossed the business card into the nearby fire. When he turned back to Ray, the man was flabbergasted.
"You memorized all that, that fast?"
"Wow. Uh- okay." He tore his eyes away from the flames. "Wow. That's good though. I… Uh… need to go find Bennie. I need to be getting back to Chicago. It was good meeting you, Chris."
"You as well, sir." This time, their handshake was much more pleasant. Ray even used their joined hands to pull Krit close enough for a one-armed hug. Krit tolerated the show of affection.
"You take care of yourself, you hear? And take good care of Bennie, too."
Krit showed respect in the only way he knew how: he saluted briskly and said, "Sir, yes, sir."
Ray looked sad, but nodded and left.
Krit wondered at the changes in himself that would allow him to trust an American such as Ray Veccico and so soon.
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"Stupid kid," Ray overheard Louis tell his partner. "Shaking like a junkie and yet didn't take the good stuff from the hospital. What the hell is tryptophan supposed to treat anyhow? It doesn't have any street value. She probably won't get more than a slap on the wrist and a trip to juvie. The least she can do is tell us how she got in."
Ray told himself that it was just stupid curiosity that made him leave his desk and peek through the one-way mirror. The girl there was just a kid, like Louis had said. She had blondish hair and it was in the same outgrown, shorn style as Krit.
And she was shaking like a junkie.
Ray remembered the letters from Bennie, the ones that he had burned immediately after meeting Krit, talking about symptoms and strange children. This was a friend of Krit's, Ray knew it in his gut. He went out to his car and grabbed a bottle of tryptophan from the glove compartment. He paused outside, listening to the sirens and the traffic sounds of the city as he decided. It could be a trap, but that girl was shaking and in pain.
He was going to do it.
He walked back into the building and into the interrogation room. Huey and Louie were no where to be seen. They hadn't been in the observation room as he passed.
"Hi there," he said brightly as he dropped the supplement bottle on the table in from of the girl. "My name's Ray Veccico, but you can call me Detective Veccico. What's your name?"
The girl blinked at the bottle and finally tore her eyes away from the label.
Ray snapped his fingers. "Name? What's your name, kid? I've got a friend I send this to and he's going to want to know who got some of his pills."
"Liar," she finally spat out.
"Krit," Ray replied.
She froze and judged Ray's posture. Finally she grabbed the bottle with shaking hands, opened it and tossed back a handful of pills dry.
"I'm sorry; I forgot to grab some water."
She shrugged, but made no move to release the bottle.
"So do you have a name?"
Ray held out his hand. "It's nice to meet you, Syl."
Syl didn't shake his hand, just stared at him and Ray could have groaned. He had a fair idea as to the procedure of taming or domesticating a feral cat and he knew damn well that he didn't have the patience for it. Only Bennie had the patience for something this wild.
In the end, he left the interrogation door cracked and made sure Syl's file never was entered into the computer. He had figured that that was his good deed of the day until he caught sight of a lithe shadow outside his house.
He sighed, fixed up a plate of food and left it and a fork on the back steps. It was cleaned –with soap and water- come morning.
He really wasn't going to do this, was he?
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He left dinner on the back porch for five nights running and then a case had made it so he didn't make it home until two am. Exhausted, he had fallen into bed, only to jerk awake early the next morning feeling guilty. He threw on his bathrobe over his shoulders and hurried down the stairs. He was in the kitchen and riffling through the contents of his fridge for something for the girl when he realized that he wasn't alone.
Syl was sitting on his kitchen counter, hands and face carefully washed. She was so still, she could have been a statue. She had her bottle of tryptophan beside her.
She had started the coffee.
"Uh…" Ray realized that his robe was hanging open and quickly fixed that. Syl relaxed slightly. "I… uh… I'm going to go put some clothes on." He went upstairs to do just that.
Ray, changed clothes, splashed some water on his face and knew that he still wasn't firing on all cylinders. To do that, he'd need coffee, which was downstairs with the girl. Finally he returned to the kitchen. Syl pointed to a mug on the table.
It had coffee in it. Ray took a sip to test it and was surprised that it was exactly how he liked it, with a bit of sugar, no cream. Hadn't Bennie said something about Krit being observant? And if Bennie mentioned it than Krit had to be really, really observant. Syl must be the same way.
Why was Ray trying to help someone so much smarter than him?
Then Syl hopped off the countertop and the top of her head wasn't even half-way up his chest. That's right, she's just a kid, with a problem.
The coffee was starting to kick in. "Do you need more tryptophan?"
"No, Detective Veccico."
"Oh, good. Food?"
"Yes, Detective Veccico."
"I was just giving you a hard time about the Detective Veccico stuff. Just call me Ray. Okay?"
Syl considered it.
"Really, I'd really prefer if you called me Ray."
"That'll work for now." Ray returned to the fridge and started pawing around. His mom had taken it upon herself to buy his food even though he moved out of the house. Ray didn't mind so much as he was paying for it and for a good portion of the rest of his family's food. His police job was secure, as was Frannie's.
He noticed that Mom's farm contact was back in business as he had a full dozen eggs in his fridge. And he hadn't eaten the bread for a while. French toast would be better than leftovers. He grabbed the eggs and bacon grease and turned on a burner. The eggs went on the counter; the grease went into a pan than ended up on the lit burner.
"Syl, grab the bread behind you and there should be square cornware under that counter."
Syl obeyed immediately, lining the requested items on the counter before Ray could find the right spices in the cupboard.
"Crack three… how hungry are you?"
"Then crack four eggs into the cornware." Ray wished for milk, but he couldn't have everything. He sprinkled in the spices and then found a fork. He whipped the concoction and then dunked the first piece of toast into the mixture. Syl was watching him in what he hoped like hell wasn't parade rest.
She was too quiet.
"The plates are in that cupboard, glasses there and forks and knives over here. You can set the table. There's honey and real maple syrup in the pantry." He missed powdered sugar and peanut butter.
Syl had the table set by the time that the first French toast was done. Ray slid it onto her plate and continued cooking. When he noticed that she wasn't eating yet, he urged her to. "That won't taste nearly as good cold."
She ate warily, as one who didn't know that kids got to start eating first.
Wild cat, Ray reminded himself. Why did she attach herself to him? And how many different ways would he screw this up?
Syl eagerly ate every piece of French toast Ray served her, to the point where he was afraid that she was going to burst. Ray was worried that she was still hungry when the food had been consumed, but she gave no indication. She merely picked up her place and utensils and washed them in the soapy water that Ray hadn't noticed before. As soon as Ray stood, Syl took his place setting and washed them as well.
"I've got to get to work, lock up when you leave," he told her.
He was fully expecting the house to be empty when he returned.
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The house was locked up when he returned. Ray didn't know whether to rejoice or mope. He really didn't get a chance to do either. When he turned around from hanging up his coat, Syl was there, still as a soldier waiting to be inspected.
"Oh! Hey." Ray looked around and could smell the cleaning fluid emanating from all points of his house. "The place looks good." It looked like she had been on her hands and knees scrubbing. At least Syl's body didn't look the worse for wear. His stomach growled. "Did you eat?"
Syl shook her head no.
Ray fixed dinner and instructed Syl when he thought about it. She was so quiet and still, so not-child-like and that burned Ray's anger. Food was consumed with very little conversation and Ray missed the riotous words that normally surrounded a family meal. He missed Bennie.
Finally he broached the topic that he had been considering all day. "You know…" he trailed off at Syl's quiet stare then gathered his courage and tried again. "I have a guest room. It has a lock on the door. If you want you can stay here?"
Syl thought about it. "Thank you, sir," she finally said.
"Ray," he corrected her.
"Ray," she echoed after a moment.
Ray grinned at her. This might just work after all. "I'll give you a key to the house so that you don't have to break in every time."
"Thank you, sir."
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