Chip Off the Old Block:
Continued from Part 1
"I hate that suit."
Brian looked up in surprise. Facing the mirror, he could see his lover's reflection as Jim emerged from the bathroom, one towel around his waist and another across his shoulders. The older detective looked like a man who'd been well-loved the night before, which, in fact, was precisely the case.
Rafe checked his own appearance. Sure enough, he was still dressed in his favorite suit, a dark brown number that was tight in all the right places. A Versace, it was the best one he owned. "What's wrong with it?" Brian was confused. Ellison's taste wasn't as refined as his own, but the older man was no slouch in the dressing department either. Besides, he'd never said anything bad about it before.
While Rafe had been double-checking himself, the Sentinel padded up behind him, even more silent than normal in bare feet. Wrapping his arms around the smaller man, Ellison rested his chin on Brian's shoulder, so that as both men looked in the mirror, their faces were side-by-side.
"Because it's your 'don't look at me' suit."
His brief explanation did little to enlighten his lover. "What are you talking about, Jim? I mean, this is Versace, for crying out loud. It just begs to get noticed."
Jim's smile was sad. "That's precisely the point. This is the outfit you wear when you want people to notice the clothes, not the man in them. My dad really shook you up yesterday, didn't he?"
Brian dropped his gaze, not able to meet Jim's eyes, not even in a mirror. "A little." He'd told the older man what his father had implied, that Rafe could sleep his way to the top of the police department. The explanation had gone a long way towards explaining Rafe's outburst the evening before about being able to accomplish things on his own.
Ellison shook him gently. "Well, I want you to know - I always see you. Not your outfit, not some sort of mask you've put up for the world. I see you." He let the younger man go when Brian's blush told him that the words had hit home.
Rafe grabbed his coat. "I gotta get going. We finally got that forensics report back late yesterday. Henry and I are going to be busy, now that we've got some stuff to work with on this case."
Halfway out the door, Brian turned back, the need to go warring with the desire to stay. "See you later?" he asked, wistfully.
Jim touched one finger to the corner of his eye to give his answer special emphasis. "See you? You can count on it. Always."
Half-awake, William rolled over in his plush and lonely bed. Since retiring, he'd come to enjoy the mornings. With no pending meetings, no financial committees to appease, and no ambitious vice presidents to hold in check, he found the mornings to be quite invigorating. As he tried to get comfortable, however, it occurred to him that one part of his body was rather more invigorated than the rest of him.
Surprised, he lifted the blankets to make sure he was feeling what he thought he was feeling.
"Well, hello there," he said to his morning erection. Gads, but that Vytal was powerful stuff. It had been over a decade since he'd woken up with an early morning hard-on. Now, after only taking the drug for a handful of days, his penis was rising to greet the sunrise with him, just like the old days.
Whistling a happy tune, William got up to start making his preparations for the day. It was a good thing that he was meeting with his private detective later. It looked like he was going to be ready for Brian sooner than he thought.
"You can't see anything, can you, babe? Not cheatin' on me, are you?"
Brian grinned and shook his head, nearly dislodging Jim's hands in the process. "Nope. On my word of honor as a cop, a man, and a member of the Cigar Club, I cannot see a thing."
Both men awkwardly shuffled forward, Rafe making his way blindly while Jim walked right behind him, hands covering the younger man's eyes. They had to walk extremely closely for Ellison to keep his hands in place, not normally a chore for the lovers, but their feet kept wanting to tangle and trip them. Luckily, they were only making their way through Brian's townhouse, familiar territory for each of them.
"Good. Wouldn't want to ruin the surprise. Careful, Bri, we're at the steps. Don't fall."
Carefully, Jim guided his lover into the garage, glad for once that he'd had a day off that Rafe didn't share. It made the set-up for this little gift a lot more convenient to arrange.
"Are we there yet?" Rafe whined. "I can think of activities a lot more fun to do while blindfolded than wandering around my garage."
"Did not," Brian retorted. "It's my house, remember? I recognize the layout. Us real detectives have a knack for that kind of thing."
"Yes, Smartypants, we're there. Hey, none of that!" Jim admonished as the younger man tried to shrug out of his living blindfold. "I'm not ready for you to see yet."
Brian immediately stopped his struggling. "Geez, Henry had you pegged right. You really are a hard ass."
"Flattery, babe, will get you anywhere." Jim planted a wet kiss at the back of Rafe's neck, chuckling when the smaller man shivered. "Now, quit your bitching for a minute and take a deep breath." He paused while the man in his embrace obeyed. "What do you smell?"
"Let's see." A couple more deep breaths followed, Brian's nose wrinkling as an unfamiliar odor reached him. "Umm... wood?"
"Got it in one." Jim nudged Rafe, urging his lover forward until they reached the wall of the garage. "Now, close your eyes and keep them closed." Waiting until he could feel the eyelids underneath his fingers flutter shut, the Sentinel took his hands from Brian eyes. Reaching down, he clasped Rafe's hands in his own and lifted them until both men's fingers came into contact with the raw lumber leaning against the wall.
"Feel that? How smooth it is? That's quality oak, feel the grain?"
"You bought oak, for my utility shelves? Are you nuts?" Despite his complaints, however, Rafe kept stroking the wood plank, mesmerized by it's silken hardness.
"If you want something done, do it right and use quality products," Jim defended his purchase. "Besides, the oak's just for the framework, I got pine for the rest."
Brian leaned back against the athletic body behind him, relaxing into the embrace and letting Jim's larger hands guide him in stroking the lumber. "Who knew that boards could be so sexy? Gives a whole new meaning to 'having a woody.'"
Ellison responded to Rafe's teasing by nuzzling his neck, turning the lithe body in his arms until Brian was facing him. Kissing his mate's still-closed eyelids, the larger man all but purred. "So, you like it? I thought we could spend some time together this weekend and get the shelves up. Shouldn't take long if there's two of us. Plenty of opportunities to get hot and sweaty together."
"Can I open my eyes now?"
"Ye-" The Sentinel had barely begun to form the word when Brian wrapped himself around the older detective, locking his arms around Ellison's neck and claiming his mouth in a passionate kiss.
Finally, the younger man pulled back, giving Jim breath enough to talk. "I guess that means you like it."
Brian rubbed noses with his lover. "I think it's one of the most thoughtful presents that anyone's ever gotten me. Not just the wood, but that we can work together on it and.... Hey, what's that?"
Rafe pulled out of Jim's embrace but kept one hand clasped in the other man's. Looking beyond Ellison's body, he could see a red tablecloth and picnic basket had been carefully placed on the floor, along with a bottle of wine and two glasses.
"That's the other part of the surprise. I thought we could use a little time just for us. It's been a rough week."
Brian shuddered at his understatement. First, it was the serial murder case and then the frantic search to find Jim's father before he became the latest victim. That, of course, had led to William Ellison meeting him and becoming intent on getting in Rafe's pants.
The Sentinel noticed the shiver. "Hey, babe, it's over. It's been four days since my old man showed up for that tour of Major Crimes. There's been nary a peep from him. I think he finally got the message."
Rafe wanted to believe him. Really, he did. "You think so?"
"Yeah, babe, I think so." Tugging on Brian's hand, he encouraged his lover down on the tablecloth. "It's just you and me here. Relax."
Rafe settled down next to the older man, Jim positioning him until Brian's head was pillowed on his thigh. The Sentinel brushed his long fingers through the thick brown hair, enjoying the full tactile pleasure of stroking his mate. Sighing, the younger detective allowed himself to be lulled into a state of complete repose.
"You're really into that wood thing, aren't you?"
Ellison laughed softly. "I guess you could say that. Maybe it's part of being a Sentinel. You know, the feel and smell of it. Building something with your own two hands."
Rafe stared off into space, half hypnotized by the continued petting. "Did you learn that from your dad?"
"Not hardly, babe. Pop was always above that kind of thing."
"Yeah, William strikes me as the type who doesn't like to get dirt under his nails. So," Brian continued, showing the persistence that made him a good detective. "If you didn't learn it from your dad, who'd you learn it from?"
"Would you believe Carolyn's father?"
"Really?" Rafe looked at his lover in surprise.
"Yep. Nate was a good guy. I often wondered if Caro and I would have stayed married longer if he hadn't died of a heart attack. Or maybe not. I think Nate knew I was gay before I did. He had a way of paring life's complexities down to the bare essentials, make you see what was really important." It was Jim's turn to do a little detective work. "What about you? Did you and your father do anything like that? Home projects? Work on cars together, that kind of stuff?"
Brian's eyes seemed to darken. "Nah. When I had the chance, I wasn't interested. Then, when I finally was smart enough to be interested, I didn't have the chance." Shaking himself, the younger man re-focused on his lover. "You know, there's one disadvantage to being out here with you."
"What's that?" Ellison saw right through Rafe's clumsy attempt to change the subject, but was willing to play along. He'd meant what he said to Sandburg earlier in the week. He'd be willing to do whatever Brian needed to feel secure.
"With all this wood in the garage, if we get... busy... out here, we might get splinters in some embarrassing places."
"Oh really?" Ellison tugged his lover up so that he could kiss his way from Rafe's jaw to his ear. "Don't you think getting a splinter in the butt would be worth it?"
Brian laughed and got to his feet, offering a hand up to Jim. "Maybe so, but I've got other things in mind for your ass tonight, Ellison, and all of them have to do with something a little bit bigger than a splinter..."
"Promises, promises, babe."
William Ellison closed the folder, staring intently at the man across the desk. "Are you sure this information is accurate?"
"100%, Mr. Ellison. I traveled to Illinois myself to get some of the documentation. Your son's... friend... has an interesting history."
Ellison tapped his fingers on the closed folder. "Interesting" was an understatement. "Brian" was full of surprises.
"Thank you, Thomas, for your customary thoroughness, especially considering the rushed nature of the job." Reaching into a desk drawer, William drew out a fat envelope. "Included is the check for this job, your monthly retainer, and a little cash bonus to show my appreciation."
"Thanks, Mr. Ellison."
William rose from his chair to escort his visitor out. "I'm assuming I can be assured of your usual level of discretion?" In truth, the elder Ellison wasn't worried about Thomas Dyer giving anything away. If the private detective had wanted to blackmail him, he'd have done it years ago. William been using his investigative services for decades, especially in checking out would- be lovers. When a man had a secret as large as his to protect, you simply couldn't be too careful.
Too bad Jimmy hadn't exercised the same level of caution.
"Of course, Mr. E. Mum's the word."
After his long-time associate left, Ellison went back to his office to give the papers and other items that Dyer had collected a more thorough look. As a businessman in a very competitive corporate environment, he'd learned long ago to use the most effective tool when it came to getting what he wanted, even if the most effective tool wasn't the most ethical one.
Even in his own mind, he couldn't call the tool he'd just been handed a respectable one. That didn't matter to William Ellison. He wanted Brian Rafe and he'd just found the key to getting him.
Considering the prize, he wasn't about to let little thing like morals stand in his way.
Being a trained observer, Brian noticed the late model sedan parked outside his townhouse as soon as he drove up. With all the wood stacked in the garage, he couldn't pull in, so he left his car in the driveway and watched as the other person got out too. He'd already noticed that it was a woman and he let her come to him as he kept a wary eye on her movements. The sign on the car indicated a delivery service, but he couldn't be too careful.
"Yeah, that's me."
The woman held out a plain brown package. "I have a special delivery for you. Could you sign for it?"
"Sure." Rafe signed and accepted the unmarked envelope, waiting until the woman got in the car before heading into the house. He didn't want to open the damn thing, not at the moment. He had a few minutes to spare, but had to get changed and get over to the loft for the Friday night poker game.
The young detective sat the package on the table and went in to change clothes. He got as far as taking his shoes and shirt off before his sense of curiosity kicked in. "Just get it over with, damn it," he muttered to himself, giving in and coming back in for the packet.
Sitting gingerly on the edge of the couch, he carefully opened the big brown envelope. Inside, was a piece of thick creamy paper, a file folder and a videotape. Feeling his stomach start to tighten, Rafe opened the paper first. It was expensive, hand-made stationary, embossed with the name "William Ellison."
That didn't make him feel any better.
As he read, Brian became more and more pale. He finally finished reading the note, allowing the paper to drift from suddenly numb fingers. Hands shaking, he reached for the file folder, fumbling until he managed to open it. Inside was a series of photographs. Some were mugshots and others were a little more... risque.
As he got a good look at the pictures, Brian's stomach rebelled. It was a race for the bathroom, the young detective barely making it to the toilet in time to empty the contents of his stomach into its porcelain bowl. It seemed like he retched for hours, until finally drained, he slumped to the floor.
In the back of his mind, he'd always known that the possibility of this happening existed. He'd innocently thought he'd readied himself for it. But now that the time was here, he knew he was woefully unprepared. What was the hell was he going to do?
As soon as the question flitted across his frantic brain, the answer did too, calming him immeasurably. Crystal clear, he knew exactly what his course of action had to be.
Picking himself up, Rafe made a beeline for the phone. He had to call Jim.
The Sentinel pulled up to the gates, double-checking the hastily scribbled address. The street and numbers matched, but the Shady Hills Cemetery was the last place in Cascade he expected to meet his lover.
Working in Major Crimes together the way they did, Jim had seen Brian in a lot of tense situations. But even with all the life threatening predicaments they'd been in and out of, he'd never heard the tone that had been in Rafe's voice when he'd called.
Like a man ready to implode.
Ellison had immediately wanted to come over to Brian's, but the younger man had insisted that they meet elsewhere. Frantic with need, both as a Sentinel and as a lover, to find out what was wrong, Jim had agreed. Now that he was at Rafe's chosen meeting place, however, he wished that he'd stuck to his guns and insisted that he come to the townhouse.
Getting out of the truck, Jim pulled the collar up on his coat, hoping to keep out the persistent wind. The blustery weather was keeping most visitors away and the cemetery was nearly deserted. It didn't take Ellison long to locate Rafe. The younger man was sitting on a cement bench not too far from the graveyard's gated entrance, staring off into space. His face had a pinched look to it that Ellison didn't like. Quietly, the big man walked up to him, sitting down wordlessly next his lover.
The hush lasted for a few minutes, until Rafe finally broke the silence. "Sorry to take you away from the poker game."
"Don't worry about it." The poker guys were also the people that Rafe and Ellison were closest to in Major Crimes and all of them were aware of the true nature of their relationship. Hiding it from them had never occurred to the lovers. Their friends, after all, were detectives. Good ones. Simon, Henry, and Joel would have noticed, no matter how hard Jim and Brian tried to hide it.
"Talk to me, Bri." It was a public place, but scanning with his Sentinel senses showed they were all but alone. Jim risked putting a careful hand a Rafe's knee. He was afraid to do more for fear the younger man would shatter.
"You know what I like about cemeteries?" Brian asked. "No matter how bad your problems seem, coming to places like this puts it all into prospective. Like, you think you've got it bad? Consider the alternative." He nodded briefly at the nearby graves, indicating that death was the alternative he had in mind.
"Is that why you wanted to talk here?" Jim was sure to keep his voice gentle.
For the first time since he'd entered the graveyard, Rafe looked at him. Jim gasped. Brian's normally clear hazel eyes were all but black with pain. "It's part of it. But... I didn't want to talk about this in my house, Jim. Didn't want reminders of this conversation every time I entered a room or have to remember the disgusted look on your face whenever I come home."
"Babe, nothing you could do could disgust me..."
"Don't, Jim." Rafe looked away again. "Don't make promises to me that you can't keep. I'm not going to expect you to stay, not after this."
Worried by the quiet despair in the other man's voice, Ellison resolved to prove his lover wrong. "Try me, Brian."
Silence reigned for another few moments, then Brian broke the silence with another seemingly incongruous question. "Jim, when did you know you were gay?"
The Sentinel started to ask Rafe to explain the sudden change of subject, but he could feel the faint tremors in the smaller man's body. This was obviously enough of an ordeal for Brian the way it was, without Jim trying to take control of the conversation. Remembering his resolve to do whatever it took for Rafe to feel secure, Ellison silently promised himself to sit back and let the other man do this the way that gave him the most comfort.
"I don't know, babe. Pretty late, I guess." No matter how odd he thought the question was, Jim did his best to answer honestly, trusting that there was a reason for it. "I dated lots of women, but couldn't find the right one. It wasn't until after Carolyn, when I was in Vice, that I realized that it wasn't a woman that I was looking for."
Brian smiled bitterly. "I wonder what that was like? You know, going through your adolescence feeling pretty normal?"
Without waiting for an answer, the younger man plunged on.
"I'm from Chicago, did I ever tell you that? Youngest of five boys. Good Irish family."
Three short sentences, less than 20 words, but they contained more background information than Ellison had gleaned from his lover in the whole time he'd known him.
"My dad, he was a man's man. A firefighter. He'd come home sometimes smelling like smoke and I thought he was the biggest hero there ever was. I never could understand why Mamma hugged him so hard on those days or why she'd have tears in her eyes when he'd tell us about the fire he'd been fighting. She knew it was in his blood and I never heard her ask him to choose a safer profession, but you could tell she just worried to death about him."
"They sound like great parents, Bri."
"They were. Salt of the earth types. It wasn't easy raising five kids on a firefighter's salary, but they managed. My mom did a little sewing on the side, but not much. Being the youngest, I got all the hand-me-downs but my dad, he always insisted that I have something new to wear to church. Even though fancy clothes got the least wear and looked the nicest by the time they got handed down to me, every year, he always took me to buy a new suit. My mom would roll her eyes and say he spoiled me, but Dad always said a man had to look his best when he went worship the Lord."
In Rafe's voice, Jim could clearly hear the love that was missing when he himself talked about his own father. "Sounds like the two of you were close."
"Yeah," Brian sighed. "Patrick used to say I could get away with murder, 'cause I was the youngest and I looked like my dad's brother. My uncle Sean died years before I was born, he and my father were really close."
"Patrick's one of your brothers?"
Rafe nodded. "Yeah, he's a couple years older than me. Used to tease me something awful, say I was geeky and would never get a girlfriend. Mom'd just say that I was a late bloomer. Frankly, it never bothered me much. I'd hear the things my friends were saying about girls and just didn't get it, you know? But then when I was fifteen, things changed."
"Changed? Like what?"
"I was the only freshman to get on the high school Junior Varsity squad for the football team. Dad was so proud, I thought he would burst. My brothers all wanted to take the credit for it, said roughhousing with them all those years toughened me up."
In spite of the serious nature of the conversation, Jim couldn't help but smile. Football. A game he'd played in school too, another thing he and Brian had in common. "So how did football make things different?"
While he was talking, Rafe had mainly focused in front of himself. At Jim's question, his eyes flicked over and Ellison could see a faint blush creep up his face. "Locker rooms. It was the first time I'd been around a room full of wet naked guys that weren't my brothers. It... hit me kind of hard. All those things my friends had been saying about girls, about how looking at their breasts made their cocks twitch, suddenly I was thinking those things too. Only, it wasn't about girls, it was about the other boys and, I guarantee you, I wasn't fixated on their breasts either."
"So that's when you discovered you were gay?"
Rafe gave a bitter chuckle. "Hell, Jim, our family was so conservative, I didn't know what gay was. I just noticed the other guys and that looking at them made me feel good. What I didn't know was that my looking hadn't gone unobserved."
Ellison frowned, knowing how cruel high school athletes could be. "They beat up on you?"
"No. Only one of the seniors noticed. Jeremy, the quarterback. Their practice was first, so they'd be taking a shower while the J.V. squad was still dressing. The first time I realized he'd noticed I was staring, I thought he'd kill me."
"But he didn't." Jim didn't phrase it as a question.
"No. He licked his lips and winked at me. Over the next few practices, he'd start staying later, I'd start arriving earlier. Before you knew it, he had me out under the bleachers after practice, teaching me things I didn't know were possible. No one had ever kissed me before, let alone touched me. It was... heaven. I was in love. I thought I would die or blow apart from the shear pleasure of it all. I was convinced I'd found the love of my life."
"Idiot kid that I was, I thought what we were doing was secret. But one day, Jeremy and I were under the bleachers making out like normal when suddenly there was the bright light shining on us. It was the coach... and he'd brought our fathers."
Jim winced, imagining the scene. "Ouch."
"My dad didn't say a word. Just waited for me to pull my pants up and hauled me off to the car. Every time I'd try and say something, he'd just hold his hand up. I could tell he was really steamed."
"He didn't have a clue before that?"
Brian sorted. "I didn't have a clue before I met Jeremy. The family knew I'd met someone, I got teased at the dinner table every night. But Mom always made my brothers stop after a minute or two. She said I was shy and they shouldn't put me off."
"What happened when you got home?"
"My dad all but threw me in my room."
"He still hadn't said anything to you?"
"Nope. Couple of hours later, he came and got me and took me downstairs. My mom was there and I could tell she'd been crying. Her nose was all red and her mascara was clumped. The priest was there too and that's when I knew it was really serious. Father McNamara only came when someone died or for something else that was bad, like that time that Connor thought his girlfriend was pregnant."
Brian seemed to get lost in his thoughts for a few minutes, finally shaking himself and continuing. "Dad described what he'd seen me doing with Jeremy and then asked me if I denied it."
His question was met with a shrug. "How could I? I mean, I'd been caught with my pants down. This is going to sound funny, but as my dad talked, I got really mad. I'd always been the good one, you know? The youngest always gets to see where their siblings screwed up and avoid the trouble they got into. With four older brothers, I had lots of examples of what not to do and I always managed to keep my nose clean. It pissed the others off, that I was my parents' little angel. But you know what? Sitting there in our living room, hearing my dad describe in vivid detail what I'd been doing with Jeremy, I got really mad. Here I was, in the middle of the great love affair of my life and my father was making it sound tawdry and cheap."
Jim briefly touched Brian's cheek. "You sounded like every teenager in the midst of their first crush, babe."
Rafe leaned into the caress for a moment, but then pulled away slightly. "Yeah, but big difference. This Romeo wasn't chasing after Juliet."
"I yelled at my dad, told him that I loved Jeremy. Mom... well, she buried her face in her hands and just started sobbing. I remember Dad going over to her and rubbing her back, saying stuff like it wasn't their fault. Father McNamara got up and opened up his bible, and started quoting all sorts of stuff at me. I yelled at him too, told him he was a interfering old prick who didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. That I loved Jeremy and Jeremy loved me and if the Bible said that was sinful, then the Bible was wrong."
When Rafe's voice trailed off, Jim prompted him again. "Then what?"
Brian sighed. "I picked a really bad time to start my teenage rebellion. Priests were sacrosanct in our house. Dad escorted me back to my bedroom. I could hear all sorts of angry voices coming from downstairs, but he'd locked my door. I wanted to go and call Jeremy and make sure he was okay, but I couldn't get out of the house. Eventually, I just curled up on the bed and cried myself to sleep."
Rafe paused, rubbing his face with his hands. His fingers came away wet, but Jim pretended not to notice. "In the middle of the night, my dad came into the room and hauled me out of bed. While I was asking him what was going on, he shoved some stuff into my gym bag and then threw it at me. Next thing I knew, he was hauling me down the stairs by the collar. When we got to the foyer, my mom and all of my brothers were there. Even Ian, and he'd been away at seminary for two years. Dad said that I'd chosen the ways of the devil over the rules of the Lord and that I was no longer welcome at his house or in the family. He wanted everybody to witness it."
Brian looked over at Jim. "You know, I'm not the biggest fan of the church, but I think Jesus had little to do with it. He's more forgiving than that."
"What did you do?"
"I went to Jeremy's house. He lived about a mile away. The lights were on at his place too, so my family wasn't the only one having late-night discussions. I knocked on the door and his father answered. He looked at me like I was a piece of dog shit he'd just stepped in. He told me to wait there and he closed the door in my face. When he came back, Jeremy was with him. From the bruise on his face, his father had been more physical with him than mine had. We all kind of stared at each other, until Jeremy's dad grabbed the back of his neck and shook him. 'Tell him. Tell the little fag he's had his fun but that he won't be doing his perverted things to you anymore.'"
"Say what? Wasn't Jeremy the instigator?"
"I guess he forgot to mention that to his old man. But he nodded at everything his dad said and then he looked at me and said if I ever tried to touch him again, he'd tell everyone what a little queer I was. Then they shut the door in my face."
There was silence between the two men.
"What did you do then? Did you go back home?"
Brian exploded off the bench and started pacing. "When Jeremy turned his back on me, I tried. I mean, I always thought that my parents would love me, no matter what I did. That's what they always said. But I guess being gay is different. Unforgivable. Whenever I'd knock on the door or try and talk to one of them, they'd turn away."
"How did you live?"
"I went to different friends' houses. Jeremy's family wanted to keep it quiet and Lord knows, my family did too, but word slowly got around. I'd stay at one place and then another. At first, they'd be horrified that my parents had kicked me out but then they'd find out why and I'd have to move on."
Jim watched his lover's agitated movements. He longed to take the younger man into his arms, but had the feeling the embrace wouldn't be welcome at the moment. "How long did that last?"
Rafe briefly looked up at him. "A couple of months. Finally, the father of the last friend I stayed with discovered I was gay. He was so mad that I'd 'abused his hospitality' that he hit me. I mean, I hadn't even done anything. Even if Pete'd wanted to, the last thing on my mind right then was sex. But Pete's dad wouldn't listen, he dragged me out to the car. It was the middle of the night again. I thought he was going to kill me and hide my body... but he didn't. He drove me downtown Chicago and kicked me out of the car. Told me that's where all the garbage ended up and I might as well be with my own kind. Then... then he spit on me and drove off. It was... a bad part of town. I had grown up in a pretty sheltered part of Chicago. This was almost like being in a different universe."
Jim closed his eyes in pain. He could just imagine an adolescent Brian Rafe being dumped off in a crime-ridden neighborhood of a big city in the middle of the night. It was not a pretty picture. Like a gawker staring at a car accident, he had to ask even though he didn't really want to know the answer. "What happened?"
Rafe's pacing stopped, the younger man facing away from him. "I was in shock. I found a doorway and just huddled on the steps. I didn't know what to do..."
"Brian, I don't mean to be judgmental, but when your folks kicked you out, why didn't you go to a teacher or the authorities? They could have gotten you help, a foster home maybe?"
His lover was still facing away from him, but the shrug he gave to the older man's question was eloquent. "I was a kid, Jim. My parents had taught me to respect authority but when your parents turn your back to you, and so does every other adult who finds out your secret, you lose faith in that sort of thing. My friends seemed safer, but when they found out, sometimes they turned on me even faster than their parents. By the time I found myself on the streets, I was well on the way to thinking everyone was right, that I was a perverted piece of shit."
Ellison longed to take that desolate fifteen year-old into his arms and comfort him. He couldn't, that Brian Rafe was half a lifetime away. "How long were you in the doorway?"
"Not long, couple of hours maybe. Long enough, though. A guy came up to me. He seemed nice enough, asked if I had a place to stay. When it was obvious I didn't, he said I could stay with him." Rafe laughed bitterly. "His name was Gary. Funny thing was, he didn't even try and touch me at first. Just let me stay with him, gave me things to eat. He seemed to like me too. Complimented me all the time, asked what a good lookin' guy like me was doing in a place like that, that kind of thing."
Having worked in Vice for a couple of years, Jim knew exactly what Brian was talking about.
"When Gary finally made a move on me, I was more than ready. The things he did to my body made my sessions with Jeremy seem like baby stuff. I was such a stupid kid, it even felt good. I told myself that Jeremy was just a practice run, that Gary was the real thing. Can you believe that I even thought he was worth losing my family over?" Rafe turned to look at Jim with haunted eyes.
"I can believe it, babe. You said yourself you were a kid. You were lost in a jungle a hell of a lot more dangerous than Peru, Bri. The wrong kind of guy found you. Believe me, I know the type. This Gary pushed every button you had, you know that, right?"
Jim was pleased to see that his answer drove a little of the anguish out of the younger man's face. "Sure, now I know he was playing me like a fiddle, but at the time, I thought he loved me, that he'd always take care of me."
"Let me guess, at first it was just him and you. Then he started asking you to do stuff."
Brian nodded. "Yeah. At first, he just started putting me down, nothing I ever did was good enough. Gary had me up on such a pedestal before, that I thought it was all me. That I was screwing up. It scared the shit out of me. I thought he would kick me out too."
"The first time he asked me to... do it... with someone else, I said no. He claimed that I didn't love him and was just using him, but I still wouldn't. Then Gary came home beat up, said he owed money and if we didn't get some fast, the guy he owed it to would kill him. I mean, Gary was everything to me. I'd lost my family, my home. He was my whole world and I couldn't let anything happen to him. So..."
Rafe wrapped his arms around himself, as if trying to ward off some inner chill. "I suppose I was lucky. Gary's clientele were the sophisticated type. AIDS was just beginning to be headline news and everybody used condoms for everything. For the most part, they were doctors and lawyers and the like. You know, established business guys. Mature."
Jim did know the type. They sounded a lot like his father.
"Gary'd take me to their house or to some fancy hotel, leave me for a couple of hours and then come pick me up." Now that he'd gotten to the ugliest part of his story, Rafe seemed eager to finish it and be done. "Mostly, it was just sex. But some of them would want pictures. There was a video or two. Gary liked the movie stuff. I think he got more money for it."
When Rafe laughed, Jim could hear the tears in his voice. "I don't know when I realized that Gary didn't love me or even care much about me anymore. Maybe it was when I came back with a bruise on my face and he swore at me for making the client mad, 'cause the next one wouldn't pay as much if my face wasn't pretty. I just know that I looked at him one day and realized that all I really was to him was a paycheck."
Suddenly, the younger man whirled, abruptly moving back to the bench that Jim was still seated at. Dropping to his knees, Rafe looked earnestly up into the older man's face. "Look, Jim, I'm not going to try and excuse what I did. I was a whore, plain and simple. And I don't want you to think I'm going to expect you to stay in my life, now that you know. I just wanted to be able to tell you about this... I wanted you to know that being with you has been the first time since I was kicked out of home that I've felt loved. Safe. I'll always remember that, Jim. Always."
Rafe started to get up, but Jim stopped him, pulling the younger man down onto the bench next to him so that they could be seated at an equal level. "Hey, where do you think you're going, babe? You've been doing all of the talking here. I think it's my turn."
Brian gulped. He'd heard plenty from people in his past. Pervert. Whore. Although he'd really wanted to break it off from Jim before those words came out of Ellison's mouth, he owed the other man to sit through whatever he had to say. Slowly, he settled back and nodded.
"You said you were a whore, but that's your word, not mine." When Brian started to protest, Jim held up a finger, silencing him. "Did you take any money for what you did?"
"No, but Gary..."
"All right. You just made my point. Gary is the one that sold you, Brian. You were doing it because you loved him and wanted to keep him safe. But, actually, that's beside the point. How old were you when all of this was going on?"
"F-fifteen when my parents kicked me out. I'd just turned sixteen when I hooked up with Gary."
Jim reached out and cupped Brian's face. "You said it yourself, babe. You were a kid. I'll go even farther, you were a kid that had been mortally wounded. Not in the body, but by finding out that your parents didn't love you nearly as much as you thought they did. If you'd been an adult, hooking for drug money, yeah, I'd have a problem with that. But you weren't, you were a hurt teenager ripe for the picking. You did the best that you could, Brian, given damn lousy circumstances. You survived. I love the man you are, the one that came through all of that hell and became the person you are today. Not the kid that got forced into prostitution by intolerant parents and a manipulative bastard."
Ellison felt his fingers get wet as tears started streaking down Rafe's face. "You aren't disgusted?" The younger man asked in disbelieving whisper.
"Disgusted? Hell, yes!" Jim held on as Brian started to pull away at his words. "I'm disgusted at your parents for turning their back on their own child. I'm disgusted at all those other adults who had a chance to help you, but chose not to. I'm disgusted at this Gary creep who used you and sold you to line his own pocket. And I'm disgusted with the men who'd not only have sex with a kid, but would pay to do it. But you?" Jim reached forward to brush his lips against Brian's. "Babe, the last thing in the world I'd feel for you is disgust."
Ellison moved his hands from Rafe's face to his shoulders, pulling the shaking man into his embrace. He was glad, now, that his lover had chosen such a quiet place for this talk. Brian had been right, he wouldn't want to associate the images that resulted from the story with either of their homes. He rocked his mate in his arms, keeping part of his awareness on the younger man's emotional state while the rest of his senses focused on the environment. This was not a time for unwanted intrusions.
Slowly, Rafe's shaking abated and Jim felt he could ask a question. "How did you get out?"
Brian rested his head on Ellison's shoulder, reluctant to break off the contact. "Gary had taken me to a party one night. I was supposed to be the... entertainment. A living, breathing party favor. It got busted. One of the cops, he gave me a blanket and escorted me outside." Rafe smiled sadly. "He reminded me of my father. Anyway, he made sure I didn't get written up with the rest of the crowd. Took me home with him that night."
Jim prepared to get angry. Not that he wasn't already, hearing about the abuse his lover had suffered, but the thought that a fellow police officer had taken advantage of Brian as a teenager...
Rafe took a look at the Sentinel's angry face and quickly explained. "No, it's not what you think. I mean, I thought he wanted me for sex too. Mitch lived alone and so I assumed that he wanted what everyone else had wanted, a piece of ass. So, I presented himself to him that night." Brian's grin got wider. "He got real gruff with me and embarrassed to, I think. He told me to put my clothes back on and marched me out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. He made us both a cold meatloaf sandwich and explained that he just wanted to help."
"And did he?"
"Yeah, he did. Got me away from Gary and back into school. I wasn't quite seventeen, so he even made arrangements for me to live with him as a foster father."
Jim gave a silent prayer, thanking whomever was listening for good cops. "Sounds like a great guy."
"He was. Tony Mitchell, Mitch for short. I wanted to be just like him too, so when I graduated from high school, he helped me start over. I got a scholarship to a community college and took a two-year course on criminal justice."
"How did you end up in Cascade? We're a long way from Chicago." Jim rubbed his cheek against Brian's hair. "Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I, for one, am glad you made it to the pacific northwest."
Rafe sighed, leaning into the caress. "Mitch again. He had contacts here, someone he was in the military with ended up here and helped me get hired on and start a new life." Brian bit his lip, hesitating before rushing on. "When I say 'start over,' I mean with everything. Mitch helped me change my name too."
"Yeah. His friend claimed he was my uncle and smoothed things over with the background check. I didn't have a record or anything in Chicago, I was never arrested thanks to Mitch. I did make note of the name change on my Cascade P.D. application," Rafe was quick to clarify, not wanting his lover to think he'd lied to their mutual employer.
"No reason you shouldn't, babe. There's nothing illegal about changing your name." Jim was equally quick to reassure.
"Do you want to know what it was?" Brian asked shyly.
Jim tilted his head, considering. "Only if you want to tell me. I'm glad you survived what you did, but the person you are now is the one I'm in love with."
Rafe thought about it for a minute, then shook his head. "Then, let's just leave it. I like who am now. That kid, I can feel sorry for him, but I don't want to be him any more."
The two men sat in silence. Jim hated to break the feeling of calm that had descended following Rafe's emotional revelation, but there was one more thing to clarify.
"Don't get me wrong, babe, I'm glad you told me. I've known for a while now that you had something that was eating at you and I'm honored that you trust me. But, Bri, why now?"
The younger detective sighed. Sitting up, he pulled a brown envelope out of his jacket. "Because this was delivered this afternoon." He handed the packet to his lover.
Jim could smell his father on it. Dreading what he would find, he opened it up. Like Brian had earlier that day, the first thing that caught his eye was a letter. The bold, terse words were easy to read: "It appears as though that classy image of yours is just a pretense. I wonder how Jimmy will react to the lie? You'll be hearing from me - WmE."
The big man crumpled the paper in his hands, wishing it was his father's heart instead.
"I wanted to tell you, before you found out any other way," Brian said softly. "I meant to tell you before, but... I just couldn't get the words out. I knew you'd feel disgusted and you meant too much to me to risk it." Seeing his lover turn towards him, Rafe was quick to reassure him. "Remember, before we made love the first time, when we both said we'd been tested? Well, I have. Over and over again. Like I said, I was lucky, they always used condoms."
"Lucky," Jim muttered, shaking his head at Rafe's attitude. After all he'd been through, the younger man still saw that the glass was half-full.
Ellison looked briefly at the contents of the packet, not willing to really study them in front of his lover and risk upsetting him further. "Bri, I'd like for you to let me take care of this."
Rafe stiffened, suddenly angry. "I'm not a kid anymore, Jim. I'll take care of it. I didn't tell you about it so that you could fix my problem. I told you because I wanted it to come from me, not that prick of an old man of yours."
"Babe, I know you can take care of yourself." Jim gave the other detective a tight smile. "Otherwise, there'd be no way in hell I'd let you partner with anybody else but me. You're a good cop, I'm not doubting that. I know you're perfectly capable of shoving this little blackmail plan right up my dad's ass, but..."
With the Sentinel's stumbling explanation, a lot of the anger had left Brian's face. "But what?" he softly asked.
"How much has Sandburg told you about the Sentinel stuff?"
Rafe shrugged. "Some, mostly what he thought I'd need to know as your lover. Not as much as I wanted, but he said that you should be the one to decide what I needed to know."
"But you know about the territorial thing?"
Brian remembered the arousing way Jim had claimed him in his kitchen, after William Ellison had made a move on him with those stupid roses. "Yeah."
"This is part of it, babe. Sandburg says that, as a Sentinel, I have an overwhelming need to protect my tribe. You're my heart, Bri, you can't get much more tribe than that." Jim looked at Rafe, the bright blue of his eyes conveying the depth of his feeling. "I need to do this. Not for you, but for me. Please, will you let me?"
The younger man looked from the damning package to his lover's face, seeing there the primordial drive to protect. At first, he'd balked at the idea that Jim thought he needed to be sheltered, that he was unequal, but then it occurred to Rafe that for the first time in years, he'd found someone that he could lean on when he needed to. Someone who would never let him down.
Brian smiled slowly at Jim, not the glib and flashy grin that most of the world saw, but a shy smile all the more precious because Ellison instinctively knew that it was reserved just for him.
"Okay, Jim," Rafe said, relinquishing control of the blackmail problem to the older detective, "I'll let you deal with it."
The Sentinel got up, pulling Brian to his feet and wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "Let's go home, babe. Cemeteries may be good places to talk, but we need to re-enter the land of the living."
"Amen to that."
Ellison stopped for a minute, just realizing that he hadn't seen Rafe's car at the graveyard's entrance. "Where's your car?"
"Over at the other entrance," Brian waved in the direction the opposite to the way they were heading. "I... I didn't want to have to see you drive off without me, so I parked in the back."
Jim stopped, swiftly pulling the smaller man into a quick but firm embrace. "I'm right here, babe. Not going anywhere." Feeling the hug returned, Ellison let go and tugged Brian towards the car. "Let's go home. We'll pick up your car tomorrow."
The young man formerly known as Rafferty David O'Brian followed, basking in the knowledge that this man now knew all of the ugly spots in his life... and loved him anyway.
William slowly got out of his Lexus luxury sedan, wincing as his knees creaked. Feeling every year of his six-and-counting decades, Ellison made his slow way inside the dark house. With Sally away for the evening, attending her niece's wedding reception in Seattle, he'd decided to dine at the Club. His faithful housekeeper had offered to fix him dinner and leave a plate warming in the oven, but he couldn't bear the thought of eating alone again at that impressive but lonely dining room table. Not that eating alone at the Club was much more entertaining, but at least while he was there, he could imagine the next time... when he strode in with Brian Rafe on his arm.
As was usual, the thought of the young detective brought a lascivious smile to his face and, thanks to the vitality drug, a hardening in his groin. Those pictures Dyer had procured ought to do the trick, convincing Rafe to abandon his son's bed for someone with a little more influence in Cascade. Someone who could help keep his dirty little secret safely under cover.
Far from being repulsed by finding out Rafe's former profession, William found that it attracted him even more strongly to the young man. Brian would be the ultimate companion for someone of his status, classy and elegant in public but a thoroughly skilled paramour in the bedroom.
Caught up in his fantasies as he entered his living room, Ellison didn't notice that someone was already there. Turning on the lamp, he was startled to see a figure seated in his favorite chair. It was facing away from him, but William could just make out the top of his visitor's head over the chair's back, the brown hair giving away the identity of his evening caller.
Yes, his photos had given him the desired result and even sooner than he'd hoped.
"Brian, how good of you to drop by. I trust you found my little package most enlightening..."
William's voice trailed off as he rounded the chair and realized that it wasn't Brian Rafe seated there, but his eldest son. With their similar body build and hair color, it had never occurred to him before how much the two lovers looked alike.
"Yeah, Pop. Let's talk about the package." Jim greeted him, blue eyes icy cold. Disdainfully, the detective tossed the brown envelope on the coffee table, the slight impact causing the incriminating photos to spill out. "Come on in and sit down. Take a load off. We've got some things to discuss."
To his chagrin, William did exactly what he was told. It was his house and his son ordering him around, but the look in Jimmy's eyes kept the older man silent and obedient.
His son sat back, elbows on the chair's arms, fingers steepled in front of his face. "I don't know what disgusts me more. The fact that you tried to blackmail Brian... or that you get off on photos of a teenager who's been forced into prostitution."
"I don't find the photos alluring," William protested. "I was merely trying to show what kind of man you're involved with..."
"Cut the crap, Pop." Jim didn't yell, but the steel in his voice cut through his father's vague attempts at justification. "Don't forget who you're talking to. What you're talking to." The younger Ellison tapped the end of his nose with one finger. "I can smell your hard-on from here."
William pulled himself up. His pride wouldn't allow him to admit that it was the Vytal in his system that accounted for his erection, not the photos. But reference to Jimmy's freaky senses reminded him of just who was the parent in this situation.
"James Joseph Ellison, don't you spout off to me about those senses of yours. You forget who protected you when you were younger, kept you from revealing yourself as a freak to those cops. You forget who taught you how to be the best man you could be and wouldn't let you or your brother settle for anything less than the absolute best. Not to mention, you forget who went to a lot of trouble to see to it that you got born in the first place."
Jim could remember a time, barely, when his father had seemed larger than life. Of how, when Jim was very young, William Ellison would come home from work and swing first Jim, then baby Stephen around and around in his arms, stopping only when all three of them were dizzy with laughter. That loving father had slowly disappeared, becoming the tyrant that insisted that Jim and his brother continually compete, never satisfied until he'd wrung blood out of stones. Somehow, beneath the bitterness that had characterized their relationship in later years, Jim had held that old image deep in his heart. Hoping that, if he was good enough, perhaps that loving parent would come back into his life. Now, as he listened to the older Ellison rant, that image of a larger-than-life father dwindled, until all that was left was the bitter and lonely man in front of him, spewing out a hateful diatribe while trying to justify his own actions.
"Enough." Jim slapped his hand down on the coffee table, silencing his father with the sharp, sudden sound. "That's enough. I warned you to stay away from Brian. I don't call this," the Sentinel lifted the envelope, "'staying away.' You know, not only should I kick your wrinkled old ass for pulling this stunt, I should haul it down to the Precinct for being in possession of child pornography."
"But you won't. Taking me in would reveal your lover's past. I don't think either of you want that."
His father was right. Not only would Rafe's name be mud with the rest of the Cascade P.D. if they found out about his past history, but his life might very well be in danger from homophobic factions within the department. More telling, Jim had promised Brian to give his father another warning and one final chance. The last thing the younger man had said to Jim before he'd left for this confrontation was to remind him that parents were precious commodities and that the Sentinel might later regret severing all contact with his dad. Knowing that Brian was transferring his feelings about his own father onto Jim's about William, Ellison had nonetheless agreed, not wanting to bring any more pain into those hazel eyes.
"No, I won't be taking you in." Jim was quick to continue when he saw the satisfaction in his father's eyes. "Not tonight. But before you try and pull another stunt like this one, just keep in mind what kind of freak you spawned." The Sentinel got up from his chair and slowly approached his father. "No matter where you go, I can find you. It won't matter how deep a hole you try to hide in, I'll be able to see you." Almost delicately, Jim sniffed the air. "Smell the stench you give off."
Stooping, the detective scooped up the envelope and its pictures. "Every night before you go to sleep, I want you to remember how easily I got in here tonight. I can do it again." He grinned ferally at the older man. "You've got to close your eyes sometimes, Pop. Screw up like this again, I'll be the worst nightmare you could ever imagine."
"But you're a policeman.... and my son." William whispered, seeing the threat of his death in his child's eyes.
"I'm a Sentinel, Billy old chum. I protect my tribe. That includes Brian now. Not you." Turning to go, Jim bent down to whisper in his father's ear. "Oh, I found the original pictures too. In your night stand. Tacky, really tacky. And the private detective? The one you used to dig up this filth? He won't be working for you anymore."
The younger Ellison took a wrinkled and folded sheet of paper out of his back pocket, depositing it on William's lap. "I'll let myself out." Then, having said all he'd come to say, he left.
William Ellison sat for several minutes after his son departed, then unfolded the piece of paper that Jim had left behind. It was a resignation letter from Thomas Dyer, indicating that the private detective had found a sudden need to retire. Too bad, the man had proven useful over the years.
Jimmy had been thorough, he had to give him that.
But not quite thorough enough. William reached in to his suit coat, pulling out a photo that had been stashed there. It was his favorite, showing the teenaged Brian on his knees, servicing an old man. Ellison blissfully ignored the fact that the "old man" in the photo was roughly his own age.
So Jimmy thought to warn him off, hmmm? Pulling his aching member out of his pants, William kept the picture in his left hand while his right moved to ease the sweet throb between his legs. Jimmy was just going to have to learn who was the head of the Ellison family. Not only would Brian Rafe suit his own needs, but he could use the young detective to teach his oldest son a much-needed lesson about respecting his elders.
William settle back into the chair, the hand on his penis keeping a steady rhythm as he stroked up and down its length. He'd quickly found that the Vytal drug in his system kept him hard for hours at a time... a physical trait that Brian would no doubt come to appreciate. Thoughts of Rafe reminded the older Ellison of his earlier observation, that the young man he was pursuing did bear a resemblance to his son. Firmly, the masturbating man pulled his mind away from that train of thought. His attraction to Brian had nothing to do with his son. Absolutely nothing.
He wasn't a pervert, after all.
Billy Wong watched through the binoculars as a young man in a Camero pulled up to the townhouse. Glancing down quickly at the photo propped against the dashboard, he made a quick comparison. Yup, this was the guy.
"Hey, Lou, get your ass up here. Our little pussy has arrived."
"Man, I just fell asleep. This van of yours is a pig stye, you know that, right?" Complaining all the way, the big blonde lurched from the back of the van to plop himself into the seat next to Billy. "So, this is the guy the old man wants you to grab? You sure you got the right one?"
Billy gave his companion a disgusted look. Actually, the young man was disgusted with this whole thing. Old man Ellison was not his favorite person in the world and he resented working for the man, even on a one-shot arrangement. If you listened to his mother, the prick was a saint but Billy knew better. A saint wouldn't keep an employee away from her family as much as Willy-boy had over the years. Hell, the Ellison family was more important to Sally Wong than her own kids. Nose-in-the-air rich guy, William Ellison had deigned to help bail him out of jail a couple of months ago, and then the son of a bitch had proceeded to lecture him on it, rubbing his nose into the fact that he'd screwed up. Forgiving the bail money like it was just so much pocket change to a moneybag like him.
When Ellison had called in the debt, Billy had almost said no. But the cash Ellison had offered certainly sweetened the deal. He owed some money to a couple of people, the kind of people that tended to shoot off your body parts if you don't pony up the dough on time. Even though this caper had the potential to earn him some big jail time if he got caught, the reward was worth it.
Wong's attention was drawn back to the other man. Lou was hurting for money too, with a bad need to score, the combination making him the perfect companion for this outing. "Take a look for yourself," he said, handing the binoculars to his partner. "See him? Looks too pretty to be a guy, that's the cunt Ellison wants us to snatch all right."
"Huh," Lou said, lowering the glasses as their target entered the townhouse. "Who would have thought that a rich old bastard like Ellison was a cocksucker? Can't say as I blame him with this one, he's almost good enough to be a woman."
"Get your mind out of your crotch," Billy said, slapping the bigger man on the shoulder. "We got a job to do." Since they'd scouted out the townhouse earlier in the day, their plan was all set and ready to go.
But even as he went about setting the arrangements into motion, Billy Wong couldn't help but think that it wasn't fair that the rich guys got to have all the fun.
Jim Ellison guided his truck down the street, fingers beating in happy time to the Santana tune coming through the radio. The thought of the music made the big man grin. Sandburg had had to eat some words when Jim's favorite musician had become hottest act on the Billboard charts this year. The anthropologist always prided himself on being on the leading edge of hipness, but had suffered a serious blow to his self-image when his behind-the-times roomie had been proven to be more in vogue than he was.
The music wasn't the only reason for the Sentinel's good mood. It'd been nearly a week since his little chat with his father, with no signs of trouble from the old man. The continued absence of William Ellison in their life meant that the fine worry wrinkles had started to disappear from Brian's forehead. The younger man had even started sleeping through the night. Well, he had last night anyway and Jim was convinced it was the beginning of a trend. William's blackmail attempt had brought a lot of old pain to the surface and, although he knew that Rafe had to work through it before he could get any better, it still was frustrating as hell to see his lover hurt and not be able to do anything about it. Oh, Brian insisted that being held by Jim was the best way to banish his nightmares, but Ellison was a Sentinel. Held in a loving embrace or not, he knew that Brian rarely slept after one those dreams...
But that was going to change, last night's unbroken sleep had just been the start of the good things that were going to be coming their way. Brian was just starting his three-day off cycle and Jim had taken some personal time to join him. Ellison had given out that he was taking a solo fishing trip, to get his head together after the Foster case. In truth, he was going to be holed up at Brian's townhouse, helping the younger detective build those shelves they'd been talking about. No doubt there'd be some time for extracurricular activities too, it would be a shame to waste all that hot and sweaty energy on inanimate objects like shelves.
The Sentinel was broken out of his reverie by the ringing of his cell phone. He was tempted to ignore it, or toss the damn thing out the window, but training and a well-honed sense of responsibility made him answer. "Ellison."
"Jim, I'm glad you picked up." The cell phone always made Simon's voice sound uncharacteristically small. "Look, dispatch just gave me the heads up on a emergency call..."
"No way, Simon. Two days off, that's all I ask." Jim was determined that the time with his lover would remain uninterrupted. "You and Sandburg are always after me to take some p-t-o. No way am I gonna get pulled into a case. Not when I've got a couple of days lined up to be with Brian."
"Listen to me," Even diminished by the cell phone, Jim could tell when Simon was using his Captain's voice. "That's just it. The emergency call was to Rafe's address. There was a report of fire. I know you're on your way there now, but I thought you'd want to speed it up some."
Jim didn't even bother to reply. He dropped the phone and picked up the siren all in one fluid movement. Activating it for both lights and sound, he quickly threaded his way through the traffic, using Sentinel senses to judge the distance between cars to a hair's breath as he wove his way through rush hour congestion.
Minutes later, he pulled up to the townhouse. Jumping out of the truck, his eyes scanned the crowd that had gathered, looking for one particular brunette head. Not finding it, he grabbed the nearest firefighter.
"Hey buddy," he said, flashing his badge. "I'm with Cascade P.D. What happened here? Was anyone hurt?"
The firefighter took a look at him and reached for the bulky helmet that topped its heavily bundled figure. Taking the headpiece off, she shook out her hair before giving him a sardonic look.
Looking at her long blonde tresses, currently matted with sweat, Jim let go of the firefighter's arm. "Sorry about that, miss. This house belongs to a friend of mine, I'm just trying to find out if he's all right."
The woman looked mollified at Jim's apology, the worry apparent on the big man's face. She was used to seeing frantic families at a fire scene and it was always a pleasure to be the giver of good news. "No one was in the house by the time we arrived. The neighbors said that the man that lived here had been overcome with smoke fairly early. We were told that some friends of his used their van to take him to the doctor. I can't swear to that myself, but there was definitely no one inside when we got to the scene."
Friends? Van? Although relieved that Brian was apparently okay, Jim was still perplexed. They'd carefully planned to have this time to themselves, he knew that Rafe wasn't expecting anyone. Protector instincts immediately alerted, he probed deeper. "Where did the fire start, do you know yet?
The woman looked at the soggy mess behind her. "Wasn't much of a fire really. Pretty well contained to the garage area. It looked like there was some wood stored there, maybe some wood finishing chemicals. That can be a dangerous combination if not handled right. He's lucky the whole place didn't go up."
"You know when we'll be able to go in and take a look around?" Since the woman had told him that no one was inside, Jim had been able to confirm that assessment with his own senses. Thankfully, although the air was thick with smoke, none of it had the charred meat smell of burned flesh. He was still itching, however, to take a look around.
"Not for a while yet. The chief's pretty particular about that kind of thing."
Jim nodded his thanks to the helpful firefighter, quickly heading back to the car to call Simon. He was going to need backup. A first priority would be to canvas the crowd, find out who saw Brian taken away in a van. There was the possibility that the whole thing was benign or just a coincidence. He hoped so....
....but every instinct he had, as a cop and as a Sentinel, screamed that this was a set-up.
So. This was what being drunk felt like.
Thanks to his experiences with Gary, by the time he was old enough to get his driver's license, Brian Rafe had spent more time being pawed at by drunken clients than he cared to remember. That, more than anything else, made him steer clear of alcohol throughout his adulthood. He could feign putting a few back with the guys, but it was mostly pretense for the sake of fitting in. As a result, he'd never even been tipsy before.
Without opening his eyes, the young detective felt dizzy. Not that he wanted to open his eyes, each eyelid felt like it was weighed down with an elephant or two and he didn't fancy struggling with them just so that he could see. In fact, if it weren't for the constant buzzing in his ears, he'd be content to slip back into unconsciousness. Moaning softly, he tried to turn his head to find a more comfortable position but soon found that his neck wasn't working properly. All in all, Rafe decided that being drunk wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.
The soft chuckle that answered his moan made Brian's blood run cold.
"You're awake. That's good. I was afraid that you were going to sleep through all of the fun."
He knew that voice. Hearing it made Brian struggle to open his eyes, but when he finally was able to see, all that was in his line of sight was the rough-hewn log ceiling far above him. Try as he might, the young man could not get his head to move. Panicked, he tried to make other parts of his body obey his commands, but the best he was able to do was get his arms to twitch an inch or two. Gasping with exertion, he gave up. Obviously, moving was out of the question for the moment. He'd better off to save his strength for later; something told him he was going to need it.
A hand came from his right side, the cold fingers reaching to cup his cheek and move his head for him. At first, all he could see was a sea of blue, but then the figure hovering over him moved back to reseat itself at a nearby chair.
William Ellison. Of course.
"Don't worry, you're only temporarily incapacitated. The boys gave you a dose of muscle relaxant. Then, when they brought you here to me, I gave you another one. You've put me off long enough. I'm a patient man, but I have my limits."
The older man leaned back and Brian could tell that the sea of blue that had blocked his sights moments before was actually the fabric of William's elegant dressing gown. The plush robe was open, revealing Ellison's turgid erection.
Rafe found he had enough control, barely, to keep himself from retching. He couldn't afford to choke on his own vomit. He'd wait until he'd managed, somehow, to wipe that smirk off Jim's father's face, then he'd puke all over the prick.
Seeing the anger in Brian's eyes, William laughed again. Getting up, he slowly approached the helpless man, circling him as he talked. "You've only yourself to blame for this, you know. I tried to woo you, but you rejected my offer. I tried to come down to your level by visiting the precinct, show you I had a personal interest in your career, but you thought it would be better to pull a childish prank on me. Don't think I've forgotten that little trip to the morgue, because I assure you I haven't." Stopping by Brian's feet, William put one hand to either side of Rafe's motionless legs, leaning in over him. "I tried to show you that a man with your past history couldn't afford to be choosy, but you used that advice to turn my own son against me."
Turning away from the young detective, Ellison grabbed a glass and a prescription bottle. "I have another little pill for you to take." He made his way back to Brian and set the objects down on a surface out of Rafe's line of sight. Then, the older man braced himself behind Rafe, grunting in strain as he struggled to lift Brian's dead weight.
As he was raised to a sitting position, Rafe could see that he was in a small cabin. One half of it was taken up with a large, fluffy bed. The part that he was in had a couch, which he was lying on; a fireplace; and a small kitchenette. It was compact but comfortable; in other circumstances, he would even call the place cozy.
While he'd been checking out his surroundings, cataloging anything that might be of use in helping him get out of this situation, William had brought a pill to Brian's face, shoving it forcefully into Rafe's mouth. Brian couldn't get his tongue to work right and hadn't managed to spit it out before a glass of water was poured down his throat. It was swallow or choke. Rafe would have chosen to choke, except Ellison's large hand was on his neck, stroking it to encourage the muscles to react instinctively. It worked. One involuntary swallow and then another, and the pill was down.
"There, now. That wasn't so hard, was it?" William used the bright, empty tone of voice that some people used with small children. Or dogs.
"We'll give that a chance to work and then we can have some fun. You'll like Vytal," Ellison stroked his erection. "It's done wonders for me."
William had watched while the captive man's eyes roamed the cabin. "Wondering where you are? It's a little place I've had for years, useful for those secret trysts with a.... friend. See the comfy bed?" He didn't wait for Rafe's response, knowing that even had the younger man wanted to, he was physically incapable of it. "Now don't be disappointed, but you won't be trying out the bed."
Despite himself, Brian's eyes closed in relief. Unfortunately, it was short-lived.
Ellison's face came in close, allowing Rafe to see how dilated the older man's eyes were. "Beds are for lovers or people you care about." Leaning down even further, he whispered in Brian's ear.
"Sluts like you get taken on the floor in the dirt."
Billy Wong leaned back in his chair, watching his partner futilely try and pick up women. After delivering the "package" to Ellison at his cabin and getting their money, the two men had stopped by a little dive of a bar. Halfway back to Cascade, it was the predetermined exchange location for both the money he owed his dealer and for a delivery of drugs that Lou needed. The shit that the runner delivered was pretty bad quality, but considering the debt, it'd be a while before he was back in his supplier's good graces.
Besides, pour enough cheap beer after the coke and both he and Lou were flying plenty high.
Billy was surprised that the job had gone as well as it had. Distracting the cop with a small fire had been a good plan, luring the pretty man out to the garage where the billowing smoke obscured the fact that he and Lou were waiting for him. Even though the guy had been athletic, he was no match for Lou. When their target had come to check out the smoke, the giant blonde had simply grabbed him and held on while Billy had stuck him with the needle Ellison provided. Whatever the shit in the syringe had been, it had hit pretty-boy like a truck. It was child's play from that point out, hauling him to the van and telling the nice neighbor lady that they were taking him to the hospital.
All in all, they'd delivered Ellison his toy boy right on schedule, all with barely messing up the pretty cop's hair.
Despite the relative ease of the job, not to mention the hefty pay-off, something didn't sit right with Wong. He had no great love of cops, so nabbing one didn't bother him much. You took your money and you took your chances, just like the old saying said.
No, what bothered him was that, once again, a Wong was doing an Ellison's dirty work.
His mother had worked hard for decades, cleaning Ellison's house, looking after Ellison's health, even raising Ellison's kids. Considering she scrubbed the old fag's toilets, she'd literally been up to her elbows in Ellison's shit for years. He'd resented his mother's other family just as long. How many times had he heard her apologies for missing birthday parties or school conferences, all because of something the Ellisons needed? Hell, she'd even named him after the old man, he couldn't even sign his own name without thinking of his mother's employer. Then, as he got older, he found himself being compared to Ellison's kids. Why can't you be as responsible as Jimmy? Why aren't your grades as good as Stevie's? Somehow, Billy never measured up.
No, he didn't like doing William Ellison's dirty work. Not at all.
A slapping sound caught the young man's attention. Looking up, he saw one of the local prostitutes walking away from Lou in a huff. The big blonde growled and made to go after her, but Billy quickly intervened. With the booze and the coke, Lou was spoiling for a fight but Wong had another idea for what to do with that energy. Grabbing his partner's arm, he started hauling him towards the door.
"What'cha doin' Billy? I 'bout had that one ready to ride." Smirking, the big man adjusted his crotch, making a crude visual reference to what kind of "ride" he had in mind.
Billy snorted. Even the "working" girls wouldn't come near Lou when he was like this; he was mean when he was high. "In your dreams, lover boy. Places like this, the locals stick together. And the hookers are so ugly, it's surprising they don't shoo them outside to graze instead of feeding them."
By this time, the two men were outside and Billy led the bigger man over to the van to continue the conversation. "Besides, don't waste your money on a hooker, I've got something better in mind. And it'll be free."
"Free?" The blonde grinned. "Like the sound of that. What'cha plannin'?"
Wong smiled at the other man before answer, jerking his thumb back in the direction of Ellison's cabin.
"You still think that cop is pretty?"
Jim walked up and down Rafe's street, intently peering at the asphalt even though the sun was all but down. If there was a clue here, he'd find it. Or go blind trying.
"Anything?" Blair had come up behind him, the uncharacteristic brevity of his question evidence of the anthropologist's worry. A syringe had been found in the garage. Even with a rush job, it'd likely be hours before Forensics figured out what was in it. Combined with the fact that an accelerant had also been discovered on the scene, foul play was now highly suspected.
"Just some oil here. A couple of wrappers." Ellison squatted down to point out the clues. "Someone parked here for a long time, Chief."
"Staking the house out?"
Wiping his hands on his pants, the tall detective stood, eyes bleak in the fading light. "I don't know."
Both men's attention was drawn to the figure trotting towards them, Henry Brown's laid back nature was history as he focused on the search for his partner.
"Brown," Jim greeted him. "What did you get from the witnesses?"
H flipped his notebook open. "Several people saw a van. Old and rusted, brown in color. No consensus on the make or model, just that it was a piece of junk. Nobody got a real good look at the driver, they were too busy calling the fire in. The guy that helped Rafe out to the van was Asian. In his twenties, might have been wearing jeans."
"Well that narrows it down," The grad student's statement was heavy on the sarcasm. Sandburg wasn't a detective but he'd hung around them long enough to know how sketchy the descriptions were.
Henry looked at Jim in worry, seeking answers from Cascade's best detective. "I don't get it. Brian and I don't work the high profile cases, you and Sandburg do." In the crisis, Brown had dropped the nicknames. "We're not far into the Werness case either. I don't think this is a grudge thing, but I don't know what else it could be. I mean, Rafe's not rich. He's a good cop but he doesn't get the publicity that you do. Hell, we know his lover's not involved." H had become more and more confused as he listed the reasons why Rafe wouldn't be kidnaped. "But who'd want to grab Brian and why?"
At the mention of the words "rich" and "grudge," fairly close together, the Sentinel's eyes hardened. "Oh, I think I've got a pretty good idea."
William had miscalculated.
He'd been so fixated on getting Brian Rafe into his bed and under his control, that he'd neglected to consider what a task it would be to undress a totally limp man. That athletic physique and those well-developed muscles were certainly desirable, but a little unwieldy to work with when their owner was as flaccid as a wrung-out washcloth.
And the muscle that was the most limp was the one that interested the older man most. But to Ellison's dismay, young detective also wasn't responding to the Vytal. His organ remained depressingly soft, unlike William's cock, which felt like it had been hard forever.
For his part, as humiliating as it was for Rafe to lie motionless while William Ellison fumbled with his clothes, he was grateful for the delay. He knew what was coming, it wasn't the first time he'd seen the type of unreasoning lust that currently inhabited the older man's eyes, and he wasn't anxious to get started.
At first, Brian had been angry. Angry with himself for getting snatched. He remembered bits and pieces of the smoke and being grabbed. He was a cop, for crying out loud, it should have been harder than that! Then, of course, he got angry at William. The older Ellison was purported to be an intelligent man, didn't he know what the hell the word "no" meant? From anger, it had been a short trip to fear. It'd been over a dozen years since he shared his body with someone not of his own choosing. He'd sworn a long time ago, even before he was a legal adult, that he'd never again have sex or just be fucked. He'd hold out and only make love with someone he cared deeply about or go without physical intimacy altogether. He'd been true to that vow ever since, only having two real lovers before Jim. Brian'd been proud of that fact, but now it looked like even that little bit of self-esteem would be taken from him.
With the anger had been the determination that he'd get himself out of this predicament, since he'd been stupid enough to fall for the fire ruse in the first place. It had become rapidly apparent, however, that William had loaded the cards against him. Rafe could fight a lot of things, but the drugs coursing through him were beyond his control. Once he realized that, he gave up his pride and started praying for rescue.
He didn't care how it looked to his fellow cops, didn't care what kind of rep it gave him in the department. All he wanted in the world right now was for Jim to come smashing through that door and get William Ellison's hands the fuck off him.
What Rafe wished for was Ellison. What he got were two punks, high on dope and booze.
Ellison jumped as the only door in the cabin was smashed in. Rafe would have flinched as well, but he was still too drugged to respond. The older man turned around to face the newcomers, dropping the detective's limp body to the floor.
"Here's, Johnny!" The big blonde yelled, ala Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." The giant turned to his partner and gleefully said, "I always wanted to do that."
"What the hell are you two doing here?" Ellison looked as outraged as a man in a blue lounging robe can be, considering his pecker sticking straight out in front of him. "I gave you your money, you should be long gone by now."
"I don't think he's glad to see us," Billy pouted to Lou.
His partner snickered. "At least part of him is." Fueled by the Vytal, William's erection had not faded, despite the unwelcome surprise.
From the floor, Rafe watched as the Asian man strode across the small cabin to face Jim's father. With his policeman's instincts, he immediately knew that the smaller of the newcomers was the more dangerous of the two. It was in the eyes. The blonde's were full of lust for mayhem, but the Asian's were cold with hate.
"I want you to leave. Immediately." William spoke confidently, used to having his pronouncements obeyed.
Billy Wong looked his mother's employer up and down, smiling as Ellison's face got red with outrage. Almost casually, he lifted his arm and struck the old man, his grin getting even wider as William toppled to the ground. "I'm not my mother. I don't have to take orders from you."
Rafe wasn't a Sentinel, but he could tell that the young Asian was deriving a great deal of pleasure from seeing William on his knees. Brian wouldn't mind seeing the tables turned on Ellison, but the situation was rapidly degenerating. As much as he didn't want to be raped by Jim's father, neither did he want to be killed by two low-lives like these. Silently, the drugs still making speech impossible, the detective urged William to caution.
Whether in answer to Rafe's mental pleas or because Wong's blow had finally knocked some sense into him, Ellison backed off a little. "So, you want more money, do you?" William smiled as he wiped the blood from his chin. "You did do an excellent job, I have to give you credit for that" reaching out, Ellison casually stroked Rafe's hip, "I suppose I could come up with a little extra bonus for you."
Billy didn't answer, but reached down as though to help the older man up. But, instead, as William reached up, he hit him again, knocking the retired businessman flat on his back. "Oh, you'll give us the money, old man, don't worry about that."
Seeing his mother's revered employer down on the floor and bleeding from his blows egged Wong on. Circling the downed man, he kicked him randomly, timing a statement with each strike of his foot. "That's for calling my mom to come sit with your sick kids when you had to go out of town, she missed my ninth birthday party. That one's for making her stay late on Christmas Eve because of some fancy dinner. And that one's for lecturing me when you bailed me out of jail."
Out of breath, Billy stepped back to admire his handywork.
"Hey, Billy," Lou said, looking at Rafe's half-clothed body. "I thought you said we were gonna party."
Wong laughed. "Oh, we will, we will. But we're gonna save the pretty one for later."
Bending over William, he used a handful of gray hair to lift the semi-conscious man's head from the floor. He wanted to look into the rich prick's eyes and see their expression when he said...
"I wanna do the old man first."
Continued in Part 3
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