Chip Off the Old Block:
Continued from Part 2
Jim Ellison pulled up to the stately house that had been his childhood home, even more frantic than the recent day when he had been rushing to save his father from a serial killer. The irony of the situation didn't escape him, that he was rushing to the same place, only, this time, to save a different loved one from the very man he'd worked so hard to rescue before.
Despite his desperate worry, Ellison halted for a moment after he leapt out of his truck. Sending his sense of hearing out ahead of him, the Sentinel checked out the status of the house and its occupants. This was Brian's life in jeopardy this time and that made all the difference in the world. He wasn't about to risk his lover's health by rushing in to a situation blind.
By the time Blair had exited the truck and joined him, the detective knew that only one person was inside, and that it wasn't Rafe. When the grad student looked at him hopefully, Jim just gave a brief shake of his head to indicate that the missing man wasn't in the house. Silently, the two men waited impatiently until Simon Banks pulled up behind them, the police captain's long stride bringing him to their side in moments.
"No luck, huh?" The more worried Simon got, the more abuse the unlit cigar in his mouth took. Already it was a soggy little stub.
"He's not here, but I think Sally is." Jim answered. "Look, I didn't really think William'd be stupid enough to bring Brian home, but I'm guessing that if anyone know's where his bolt holes are, it'll be Sally."
"'William?'" Even in the midst of a crisis, Blair was sensitive to his partner's choice of words.
Jim gave him a penetrating look before heading towards the front door. "You don't think I'd call him my father, not after he's done this."
Blair had barely caught up to his longer legged companions when all three men were startled when the door opened before Jim could knock. Inside stood a very haggard-looking Sally Wong.
"Jimmy," she cried, rushing out to hug the man she'd practically raised. "I've been sick with worry, I'm so glad you came!" Tugging on his arm, she pulled the much-larger detective into the house.
"Sally, calm down," Jim said, placing his hands on the small woman's shoulders to steady her. "Tell me what's wrong." Knowing the woman's loyalty to William Ellison, he knew that he'd have to tread carefully in order to not alienate her.
"I've been wanting to call you or Stevie, but I've been afraid to. Your father's gone to such pains to hide it, but I thought you should know. I didn't know what to do."
Over the Asian woman's head, Simon and Jim exchanged a questioning look. Had Sally known about Rafe's abduction?
Gently, having great affection this loving figure from his childhood, Jim led Sally to the living room. As he helped her get settled on a plush chair, Sandburg quickly darted to the kitchen, coming back with a glass of water for the distraught woman. Sipping it with Ellison's encouragement, she slowly calmed down. The Sentinel seated himself directly across from her on an ottoman, much the way he and his brother used to sit at her feet as kids while she told them stories. He hoped the familiarity would help her open up.
"Sally, start at the beginning. Tell me what's wrong." Jim encouraged her.
Gulping great breaths of air, Sally started telling them her story. "It all started about a week or so ago. Your father had been acting... odd... lately. Restless. Up at all hours, acting almost secretive. Then, one day, he went to the doctor. Oh, he didn't want me to know where he'd gone but the doctor's office called to say his insurance wouldn't cover the treatments - but they wouldn't tell me what they were! When I gave your father the message and tried to ask if he was all right, he just said that he was fine and that it was nothing to be concerned about. But he looked so... ill... that night at dinner. His skin had almost a green cast to it and he didn't touch his food. So, I knew that he wasn't well, despite what he said."
As Sally talked, Jim did a quick mental tally. He had no idea what was up with the doctor's visit, nor did he really care, but the green-at-the-gills description of William roughly matched the time frame when Rafe had given his father a tour of the morgue.
"Then, today, I found this," Sally held up an empty prescription bottle. "I was cleaning the bathroom and it was in the wastebasket. I knew he was hiding how serious his condition was from me, I just knew it."
Ellison took the pill bottle from the distraught woman. The drug's name, Vytal, meant absolutely nothing to him but the large, brightly colored label that read "Experimental" immediately caught his eye. Wordlessly, the Sentinel handed the bottle to his captain, the other man's lifted eyebrow showing that the drug wasn't familiar to him either.
"Dr. Linder, huh? I'll give him a call and see what I can find out." Simon walked a few paces away, drawing his cell phone out to start the inquiry.
"Sally," Jim drew his attention back to the housekeeper. "Do you know of a place that Will-... that my father... might go if he wanted to be undisturbed for a while? Someplace... private. Isolated."
The woman's eyes got big as she imagined the reasons behind the detective's questions. "You don't think he'd harm himself, do you Jimmy? I've read that when some people are diagnosed with an illness, they decide to end it quickly to avoid the suffering. You don't think Mr. Ellison would do that, do you?"
It was Blair who jumped in to reassure the woman, the look on Jim's face showing that, if the Sentinel had anything to say about it, his father would suffer plenty. "No, Sally, nothing like that," the grad student soothed her, obfuscating with his usual grace. "Captain Banks just needed to get more details for Mr. Ellison's deposition against Foster, but now that we've heard your concerns, Jim just wants to make sure his father isn't alone at a time like this."
Sally wasn't immune to the Sandburg charm and relaxed at his calming words. "Well, he still has an apartment in the city. You would remember that, Jimmy, Mr. Ellison would sleep there the times when work kept him so late that he was too tired to drive all the way home. But he doesn't use it much anymore since he retired." The woman looked thoughtful. "I guess that would just leave the boat or the cabin."
Ellison had quickly discarded the apartment as possibility. If his father were planning what the Sentinel was afraid he was planning, the older man wouldn't want Brian around such a high concentration of people. The boat or the cabin, on the other hand, would both be ideal locations for a horny old man up to no good.
"Can you get me more information on those, Sally? I don't want to take any chances." Jim spared a little remorse at deceiving the woman, but only a little. Even after an absence of over a decade, he could see that the housekeeper still had his father up on a high pedestal. Given the opportunity, the detective would rather have explained his true suspicions to her, but not knowing what Brian's situation was, he couldn't spare the time that would be likely needed to convince her that his father was capable of harming the young man. Assuming, of course, that he could convince her of that fact.
"Of course," Having a solid task to do steadied the woman. "In fact, I'll get you the directions and the keys you'll need." Hurried but no longer panicked, she went to retrieve the needed items.
As Sally left, Simon finished up his phone call. "Taggert's putting in a trace on this Dr. Linder now but it might be an hour or two before we get info on what the Vytal stuff is."
"Doesn't matter, Simon. I don't care what the bastard's been diagnosed with, doesn't excuse him grabbing Brian."
Banks urged caution. "Jim, we don't know that it was your father. It could have been..."
"No," Ellison broke in. "It was him."
"So, when Sally gets back, how are we gonna do this?" Blair asked, trying to smooth over the tension.
"I think we can rule out the apartment," Jim continued when he saw the other two men nod in agreement of his assessment. "But maybe you could have some uniforms check it out anyway. I'll scout out the cabin, Simon, if you'll take the boat."
"No way, detective," Simon took his pathetic cigar stub out of his mouth and used it as a pointer to reinforce his gestures. "We'll let Taggert and Brown check out the boat. If you go to that cabin, so do I. Don't forget that if your father did this, he didn't do it alone, Jim. We don't know if the two guys who grabbed Rafe will still be hanging around. You'll need someone to back you up."
The large police captain looked at Blair in apology. They both knew that in a normal situation, Sandburg was all the backup the Sentinel needed. But if something had happened to Rafe, well, it might take at least the two of them to hold Ellison back.
He was ashamed to admit it, even to himself, but he was glad it wasn't him.
Left laying on the floor, body still limp from the drugs administered earlier, Brian Rafe could only listen to the soft slapping sounds, the creaking of the mattress, and the curses mixed in with Billy Wong's grunts as the young man took his pleasure of his victim. William Ellison had stopped crying out early on during the attack, and Rafe couldn't decide if that made it better or worse. It didn't matter to the detective's conscience that William himself had planned on doing essentially the same thing to him.
No one deserved to be raped. No one.
Besides, Rafe was a cop, an honest one. No good cop would want to be present during such a violent crime and not want to put a stop to it. But, thanks to the massive quantity of muscle relaxant in his system, he couldn't coordinate his body enough to clench his fist, let alone come to anyone's rescue. That was William Ellison's fault, but the older man was paying a high price for his actions now.
Thanks to Gary, Brian had some harsh experiences when it came to sex. Many of his past clients had cherished the teen they'd paid to have in their bed, but others enjoyed pain. His pain. As a result, he knew what William was going through and, despite his altruistic tendencies as a cop, there was a small part of him secretly relieved that it was his kidnapper that was enduring the assault and not him.
He'd never be able to look Jim in the eye again. Never.
From his position, he couldn't actually see what was happening and he had to rely on his hearing. The tempo on the bed, both from the creaking and the grunts, increased after a time. From a guttural cry that was only vaguely human, followed by the cessation of movement, Rafe assumed that Wong had climaxed. It was a guess, but a pretty good one.
"Well, for an old guy, Willy-boy, that wasn't a bad ride. What'cha say, was it good for you?" When William didn't answer, Rafe could hear Billy laugh. "Hey, Lou, it's your turn."
More sounds followed, of a zipper being lowered and of bodies exchanging places on the bed. But, apparently, Lou didn't share his partner's tastes.
"What the f...?" Rafe could hear the loud sound of a large body hitting the floor as the blonde man leaped back from the bed. "Man! Billy, the old prick shit all over himself! I'm not sticking my pecker in there."
"Don't be such a baby, Lou. Do him." Wong's tone of voice reminded Brian of the hatred he'd seen housed in the young man's eyes.
"No way, man. There ain't enough condoms in the world make shove my dick into that mess."
Rafe could hear the ice enter into Wong's words. "Fine, be that way. It's gonna be a little bit before I'm ready to get back into the saddle, but now we've got wee Willy here all warmed up, it'd be a shame to make him wait. If you're too prissy to do him, find something else. There's got to be a mop handle around here we can use."
In the silence of the cabin, Brian could hear the harsh breathing of both men.
"You are one sick fuck, Wong. You know that? You said this'd be an easy job, just grab some pussy for an old fag. So, I said okay, I could use some easy money, let's go for it. Then, just when we get the job done and are ready to party, you start this weird shit. Well, that's it. You stay here and fuck all the fags you want, I'm headin' back to town."
Lou's outburst had been accompanied by the sounds of him gathering his clothes together and, by the time his diatribe had ended, Rafe could feel the floor vibrating from the big man's strides as he made his angry way towards the door.
He didn't make it.
A shot rang out in the small cabin and Rafe winced as he felt warm liquid splatter across the small of his exposed back. Lou's corpse toppled next to him and the detective found himself staring into the blonde man's lifeless eyes.
"You big shit, look what you made me do." Brian could tell from Wong's frantic pacing that the rush of cocaine, alcohol, and adrenaline were getting to him. "Couldn't be flexible, go with the flow. No, you had to go and try to ruin everything." Nearly unintelligible mutterings accompanied Billy's steps and Rafe could almost imagine the surviving kidnapper pulling his hair out while feverishly musing. Suddenly, pacing and muttering alike stopped and the young man's voice went from agitated to cheerful. "But, guess what, boys? Billy's going to fix everything. I'll just escort this loser from the party, and we can pick up where we left off. There's enough of Billy to keep everybody happy."
Brian felt a rush of cold air as the outside door was open, flinching when Wong approached to grab Lou's body by the ankles. Luckily for the detective, the other man was concentrating on dragging the corpse out of the building and hadn't noticed Rafe's minute movement. Brian, however, had recognized the involuntary motion for the boon that it was. With every ounce of focus he could muster, he concentrated on his fingers, delighting when they curled at his command.
"Well, well, well..."
Rafe almost jumped again when Billy Wong's voice came loudly from the direction of the doorway. He'd been paying so much attention to trying to force his body to move that he'd nearly forgotten the true danger.
"Two wild and crazy guys, just waiting for me to service them."
It took a supreme act of will not to flinch when Wong bent over him, but Rafe knew that he needed every element of surprise at his disposal, if he had any chance of stopping the younger man. Even the pathetically limited range of movement he'd recovered would only give him a snowball's chance, true, but it was all he had and he wasn't going to waste it.
Holding still became even harder when Billy trailed one finger casually down Brian's spine. "You're a pretty thing. Should I do you next? I mean, if you're good enough for my Sweet William, then you're good enough for me, right?"
The other man bent down still further, finally kneeling on the floor with one knee on either side of Brian's prone body. The detective could feel the assailant's erection as Wong ground his crotch into his back, the only barrier between their bodies the fabric of both men's pants. One final thrust and then Rafe closed his eyes in relief as Wong stood and the unwelcome touch left his body.
"It's tempting, but... mother always did say to do your chores first, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave you two boys all on your own for a while. Lou wanted to go into town and play. Just 'cause he's dead, doesn't mean that he can't have what he wants, right?" Wong's voice became less cheery as he mumbled his plan to himself. "Besides, we're in the middle of Bumblefuck, Washington. All I got to do is stick the body near that bar and the toy cops in these parts will just figure one of the locals popped him."
Brian couldn't believe his luck. Wong was actually going to go off and leave him and William unsupervised. Maybe there was a phone he could use....
Suddenly, a pair of boots were right in front of his face.
"Now, it wouldn't be nice to go off and leave you all alone on the floor, would it? Not real hospitable."
Brian felt two hands grab his shoulders and then found himself being dragged across the floor. Before he knew it, Wong had managed to heave him onto the bed with Ellison. Once again, Rafe was staring at another man's lifeless gaze. Only, this time, he could tell by the wheezing of William's breathing that he was still alive.
"There you go." Wong reached across Brian to pat William on the behind, but the older man didn't move. "You wanted the pretty cop, now you got him."
Billy moved to the door, tossing one final comment over his shoulder as he left. "Enjoy him while you can, Mr. Ellison, sir. Because when I come back, I expect you to share."
The drive from Cascade had been tense for the three men. Blair had tried to start a conversation, but wasn't having much luck getting the others to participate.
"I always knew you were brave, Simon, but this is going above and beyond the call of duty," Blair gestured, drawing attention to the fact that they were riding in Banks' sedan rather than Jim's truck - and the Sentinel was the one driving. "Suggesting we take your car, letting Jim drive. That's real generous of you."
"Generosity had nothing to do with it, Sandburg," Banks growled, grumpy at being regulated to the back seat of his own car. The anthropologist had jumped into the passenger seat, stating that he'd need to be up front with Jim in case the Sentinel zoned. Banks wasn't happy about it, but had let the police observer get away with the maneuver. "I wasn't about to be crowded into the cab of Ellison's truck for the whole ride here." Simon's voice softened. "Besides, if it were Daryl that was missing... I'd want to be behind the wheel too."
Sandburg nodded his understanding, knowing how his partner was fretting about not being able to find Rafe immediately. At least driving would give the detective something to concentrate on. Those inner thoughts, however, only kept the grad student busy for a heartbeat or two as he gazed out over the dark landscape. Fingers tapping his knee in impatience, he soon popped up with another question.
"It's taking a long time to get there, why didn't we just call the local authorities?"
Jim spared enough attention from the road to give him an answer. "Because calling it 'local' is being kind. This far out of the city limits, Chief, there isn't a city police. It's all woods and forest out beyond Cascade. That means county sheriffs, park rangers, and maybe a state trooper or two. They're spread a little thin as it is, without trying to get them to roll out on a possible dead end...."
"And you want to do it yourself," Sandburg finished for him.
The Sentinel smiled tautly. His Guide knew him well. "And I want to do it myself," he agreed.
The momentary peace in the car was broken by the rapidly - and unsteadily - approaching headlights from the other direction of the two-lane highway.
"Jeez, that guy's all over the place."
The words were barely out of Sandburg's mouth before the oncoming vehicle swerved, nearly driving the sedan off the road. Ellison brought the car under control, skidding to a stop on the narrow shoulder. The Sentinel turned to look at the vehicle that had nearly run them down, doing a double take as he realized that it was a van. Honing his sight, he concentrated in the poor light.
Not only was it a van, it was a rusted, brown van.
Quickly stomping on the gas pedal, Jim swung the car into a sharp turn, spraying gravel as the tires spun rubber.
"Ellison, what the hell are you doing?" Simon cried out, bracing himself as the car lurched back onto the road - going hellbent for leather back the way they'd just come.
"That van, it meets the description of the one at Rafe's townhouse," was the terse answer. Given that they were near William's cabin, the sighting was not likely to be a coincidence.
Neither of the car's passengers needed to be told to hang on; they'd both ridden with Ellison before.
It didn't take the van's driver long to realize he was being pursued. Still weaving erratically across the narrow road, the rusted vehicle sped up, taking the curves in the highway at dangerous speeds. Jim caught himself more than once starting to tell Sandburg to call for backup, only to realize that they weren't on their home turf and there wouldn't be any.
It was an impasse. Simon's was the better vehicle, but Jim didn't dare try and force the van from the road. They were driving at such high speeds that he couldn't afford to split his focus on using his senses to try and detect who else might be in the van. He didn't know if Brian was inside and was afraid that if it crashed, any passengers would be severely injured. Still, he was a police officer and every second of a high-speed chase meant that an innocent person might wander into the wrong place at the wrong time and be put into danger. It was a dilemma, one that tore at his conscience.
Nature took care of it for him.
One minute, both vehicles were tearing down a empty stretch of road. The next, a stag was directly in front of the van, the rapidly approaching vehicle illuminating its massive rack of antlers. The sudden presence of the animal startled both drivers. The van tried to veer out of the way, but was going too fast and turned too sharply. It toppled to its side, sliding across the gravel in a shower of sparks.
If the Cascade PD motor pool could have seen Jim Ellison at that moment, they would have realized that the detective saved many more vehicles than he destroyed. Slamming on the brakes and controlling the car during its rapid deceleration, the Sentinel managed to keep it upright and in one piece. Barely, but he was successful.
As quick as Jim was out of the car, the driver of the van was even quicker. In the fading daylight, he could see that it was a young Asian male, further confirming the description from Brian's place.
"Stop where you are!" Ellison yelled, quickly reaching for his ever-present gun. "Cascade PD!"
The young man staggered a few steps to the side, holding one arm to his side as though he was injured. "Cascade cops? All the way out here? I don't believe it."
"Believe it, son." Simon had come up to beside Jim, his own weapon ready. "Now put your hands up nice and slow..."
As Captain Banks took control of the situation, only part of the Sentinel's attention was on the man in front of him. The majority of his focus was on the vehicle and who else it might contain. He extended his hearing first, eagerly listening for a familiar heartbeat. To his disappointment, however, there was only silence. He tried not to think of other implications of the ominous lack of sound, preferring to believe that the perp had been alone. Concerned that the accident might have ruptured the gas tank, Jim extended his sense of smell next, but instead of the acrid fumes of spilt fuel, he was confronted with the stench of blood and death.
It was the perp that saved him from zoning on the possibility that the van contained his lover's body.
"We're a long way from Cascade, how do I know you're not car-jackers or something?" Despite his situation, driver was still protesting.
Gritting his teeth, Ellison whipped out his police identification. "Detective James Ellison, Cascade PD," he barked, wanting to get past the creep and see what was causing the smell in that van. "Is that good enough for you?"
"Ellison?" To Jim's irritation, the young man started to laugh. "Jimmy Ellison? William's little boy? Your dad's a good lay, you know that?"
It took a minute for the words to penetrate the detective's understanding, but once he realized what the man in front of him had implied, he could smell it. He'd been so focused on the vehicle earlier that he must have skipped over the closer scent, the one coming from the man.
Semen. And more blood.
God help this piece of trash if any of it was Brian's.
The still nameless man took advantage of Jim's momentary lack of attention, pulling his arm away from his side to reveal that he wasn't injured after all, he'd merely been concealing a gun.
Sandburg, who'd been watching the whole confrontation from the sidelines barely had a chance to cry a warning before three shots rang out. One from Simon. One from Jim. And one from the suspect, firing harmlessly into the air as he was hit before he could fully bring his gun to bear.
The driver was dead before he hit the ground.
Banks lurched forward to check the man's condition but Ellison ran straight to the van. The driver, whoever he had been, was now dead meat as far as he was concerned. He didn't need Simon to confirm that fact. It was much more important to find out what was inside the vehicle.
Reaching the crashed van, Jim quickly could see where the now-dead driver had exited through a broken window. Blair could probably fit through the opening, but there was no way he was sending the anthropologist in there, not with what he'd smelled. Hopping up on the van's upturned side, Ellison grabbed the door handle and pulled, muscles straining as he fought the bent metal. Finally, the door gave and Jim could see inside.
Sandburg, waiting anxiously on the ground, saw his partner's head suddenly droop, chin hitting the older man's chest. "Jim," he called up, "What is it? Is everything all right?"
Ellison wiped his hands off on the knees of his jeans. Raising his eyes to meet his partner's gaze, he reassured the younger man. "There's a body in here, but it's not Brian. I'd say it was the other kidnapper."
Simon joined Blair, both men watching as a relieved Sentinel climbed down from the van. "We're not far from the cabin, Jim. I'll call this in," A quick jerk of the head indicated both the van and the body on the ground. "You two go on ahead."
He didn't need to say it twice. Ellison nodded and made for the car, stopping only to give his boss a quick slap on the shoulder. "Thanks, Simon."
"Don't mention it," Banks called out to the rapidly retreating figures. "But, Jim..."
He waited until his best detective turned around. "I don't want a third body tonight, you hear what I'm saying?"
In the harsh glare of the sedan's headlights, Banks could see the glint in his friend's eyes as he answered. "I hear you, Simon."
As the car sped off in another shower of flung gravel, Simon shook his head. "Yeah, you heard me all right, but that still doesn't mean you listened."
One night when they were cuddled in bed, back when both Brian and Jim still found William Ellison's amorous pursuits more exasperating than frightening, Rafe had told the Sentinel that it was a good thing that his father had blue eyes. When the older detective had looked at him in confusion, Brian had laughed and explained that the blue eyes were at least one good trait that the father could pass down to the son.
Those words haunted him now.
Rafe remained on the bed where Billy Wong had thrown him, directly across from the blank stare of a barely breathing William Ellison. The older man's empty blue eyes, so like his Jim's, seemed to bore right down into the young detective's soul, silently asking him why the policeman hadn't prevented the vicious attack.
Although the softness of the bed was an improvement over the floor, Brian wasn't happy about being there. Not only because of the smell coming from the injured man was repellent, but because he still didn't have much range of body movement. After a quarter of an hour of intense struggling, he'd only managed to drag his hand from hip-level to where it was now cradled on his chest. At this rate, he'd still be in an extremely vulnerable position when Wong returned.
Brian stopped his efforts, needing to rest and regroup. This just wasn't getting him anywhere. As he did, his eyes were immediately drawn back to the man next to him. William hadn't moved or even blinked. It was as if his mind had already fled his abused physical shell.
Rafe didn't blame him. He remembered experiences from his own past, there were plenty of times where he'd have given anything to have escaped what his body was going through. A deepening bruise on William's temple in particular worried Brian. It had probably happened when Wong kicked the downed older man. Other bruises were obvious on the man's pale skin, but none placed in such a potentially harmful spot.
Rafe began trying to lift his hand further, intending to assess the injury when it dawned on him what he was doing. Would he really consider offering comfort to the man who'd pursued him relentlessly, arranged to have him kidnaped, and had every intention of raping him?
Yes, the answer came quickly, he would.
Not for William's sake, but for his own; because to witness another human being's pain and not react would make him less of a human being himself. And, a little, for Jim's sake too. No matter what his lover said about him, this was still his father and Brian owed the elder Ellison care for Jim's sake, if nothing else.
Inch by slow inch, he managed to bring his hand up to the older man's face, being as careful as his lax muscles would allow. "Will...iam..." Talking was as much effort as moving. "W....ake....up. H...h...he's....gone."
When there was no response, Rafe wanted to throw his head back and howl. This was his worst nightmare, to not only be helpless, but to be helpless in another man's bed. When Mitch had gotten him free of Gary's pimping, Brian had sworn he'd never share his body with another person he didn't care deeply about. For nearly half his life, he'd kept that vow but, thanks to William's meddling, that oath might be broken. Not only that, but one of the things he'd liked most about being a cop was being one of the good guys. Rafe was well aware that, without Officer Tony Mitchell, he likely would have been dead in a gutter before he was old enough to vote. He'd set his sights on being a policemen too, helping people just like Mitch'd helped him. Sort of evening the score.
But now, here he was, in a predicament where someone needed his help more than anyone ever had before, and he was drugged. Helpless. It was enough to make you want to hit something...
Rafe's other hand shot out to his side, fingers clenched into a fist. He stared at it for a moment before he realized that he had managed to move it, that the anger had helped him work past the drugs. The detective considered for a moment. What to do with this improvement? Unfortunately, he didn't have many options. William was in bad shape, but was also beyond his abilities to assist. Besides, there was no telling when Wong would be back; his best bet was to try and call in some assistance.
His movement a little easier now, Brian hitched his way across the mattress, grimacing in disgust when his legs brushed against a damp spot. He knew that William couldn't have helped losing control of his bowels during the rape, but it didn't make it any more pleasant to encounter. Once he'd managed to grab hold of the bed's headboard, he used it to lever himself up, needing the extra height to scope out the cabin.
A phone. He needed to find a phone.
He groaned aloud when he finally spotted it. Of course it was all the way across the cabin from the bed, mounted on the wall by the entrance. It was, in fact, much closer to his original position on the floor than to where Billy had moved him. Brian promptly debated the methods of getting there. He had better movement, true, but not much in the way of control. Walking was out of the question and might prove to be downright hazardous.
Turning around carefully, he backed his way down the bed, William's empty eyes giving silent witness to his effort. Then, all dignity abandoned in the necessity of summoning aid, the detective started crawling across the room. Each yard of progress was a journey in and of itself, his nerves stretched thin as he fought to reach the telephone before Wong returned.
He only made it halfway before he heard a vehicle approaching.
Brian refused to give up, doggedly continuing on his journey. He might be crawling, but it was a damn sight better than laying down and just waiting for Wong to come take him.
When the door was flung open, the young detective's only reaction was to keep moving, refusing to even look up at their tormentor. He expected to hear the mocking laughter again or perhaps the cold sensation of a gun muzzle pressed to the back of his neck. The last thing Rafe thought would happen was for the new arrival to drop down to his knees and gently call his name.
He looked up as quickly as his slack muscles would let him. He couldn't believe his eyes. After hoping and praying for it, his lover had found him. Rafe mouthed Jim's name, but he no sound came out of the dry lips.
Ellison saw the silent calling of his name and his heart twisted. He wanted to reassure Brian that everything was all right now, but one look at the young man made it obvious that the statement would be a lie. Rafe was dressed only in his boxer shorts, knees red from crawling on the floor. The beloved hazel eyes were wide in shock, large in a face that was much too pale for the Sentinel's liking. Jim wanted to grab his mate and pull him into his arms, as much to reassure himself as to comfort Brian. But... he also couldn't forget that Rafe had been kidnaped and...
... and he didn't want to think of what else might have happened to Brian tonight.
Not wanting to force an embrace on a man that may have been forced too much against his will already, Jim simply opened his arms and softly said, "Please, babe."
Brian didn't need a translation, he clearly heard everything that Ellison was asking for. Please let me hold you, please allow me to comfort you. Lurching forward, he closed the distance between the two of them, gratefully burrowing into his lover's arms. Jim immediately closed them around Rafe's shivering form, already murmuring words of reassurance. "I've got you. You're safe now. It's all over."
The cabin, which moments before had seemed ominously silent, now enjoyed the joyful hush of reunited lovers.... until the sound of Sandburg's retching interrupted the tranquility.
Blair had entered the cabin right behind Jim. Ellison had already determined that two people were inside, one seriously injured. Like his partner, he'd been shocked to find Rafe crawling on the floor, but at least it had meant that the young detective wasn't the badly injured party. While Jim tended to Brian, Blair approached William, intending to offer the older man assistance.
What he saw when he got to the bed turned his stomach.
"Jim," Blair choked a cry to his partner. "Your dad... Man, he needs help..."
The Sentinel could hear the sirens in the distance. It looked Simon had managed to round up some assistance. "It's on the way, Chief." Standing carefully, he helped Brian to his feet, letting go of the other man only long enough to shrug out of his barn jacket and wrap it around Rafe's shoulders. He assisted his lover to the sofa, keeping one arm wrapped around his waist in order to steady him. The brief body contact gave Jim the opportunity to do a subtle inventory of his lover's physical condition. To his relief, he found Rafe relatively unharmed, although there seemed to more to his shaky condition that shock alone could account for.
He barely had Brian settled against the soft cushions before the other detective was pushing him away. Jim was immediately contrite, afraid that he'd been a little too familiar, not knowing what sort of emotional scars this event had left behind.
"Go... h.help... your.... dad."
Jim shook his head, reaching for a knit afghan to drape over the younger man's legs. "No. He made his bed, now he has to lie in it." Grimly, the Sentinel winced, uncomfortable with his unintentional jibe. The bed William was currently in was literally unpleasant, an all too graphic reminder of what he'd endured.
Rafe looked at Ellison's determined face. No doubt, the Sentinel's protective instincts were going haywire right about now. But, he had a feeling that if his lover didn't try to help his father, he'd regret it later.
The problem was getting Jim to see it that way.
Thinking quickly, he came up with an idea. "Sh..shouldn't....make....B.blair...deal...with...it...all alone."
The Sentinel looked at the other man sharply; Brian had hit upon the only argument that had a chance of swaying him. "You don't play fair."
"N..not playing. Important."
Ellison's face softened in affection at his lover's determination. "Yeah, I suppose it is. You," he pointed firmly at the seated man, "stay there. I'll be right back."
Jim turned towards the bed, afraid of what he'd find. Sandburg had been in enough emergency situations to know it was important to keep William from going shock. To prevent that from happening, the grad student had piled as many blankets as he could find on the prone man. The Sentinel left them in place, lightly moving the top layer out of the way so he could take his father's pulse. Weak and thready, but it was there.
Looking down, the detective felt like he was three men as his eyes took in the damage that had been done to his father. The Sentinel in him simply wanted to complete the job that had been done to the man who'd dared to lay hands on his mate, preferably with his bare hands. The policeman part of his personality coldly noted the injuries and pieced them together with the sketchy details already gathered. Whomever the two men in the van were, William must have hired them to snatch Brian, only to have his own henchmen double cross him. The cop part of Ellison couldn't help but feel that some sort of karmic justice had been dealt, sort of "what goes around, comes around" on a grand and brutal scale.
But the part of Jim that had loved his father was appalled to see the state the man was in. That surge of emotion surprised the detective. He'd thought, after all that had happened, that whatever love he'd once had for William Ellison had been buried underneath a mountain of bitterness and shattered illusions. For the first time, Jim understood why Brian had been so persistent that he try and maintain the relationship with his dad, no matter what crap the older Ellison pulled.
No matter what else he was, William was and, would always remain, his father.
Reaching out, he cupped dad's face in one hand. "It'll be all right, Pop. Help's on the way." The detective looked up at his partner, not at all surprised to see the compassion on Sandburg's face. "You've done all you can, Chief. The paramedics will be here in a minute. Why don't you wait outside and flag them down?"
Not bothering to see if the young man took his suggestion, Jim walked back to the couch. He and Blair had done all they could for his father, but there was another man that needed his attention. All three aspects of his personality had one thing in common - they all loved Brian Rafe. Whenever his lover needed comforting, all of them, the Sentinel, the cop, and the man, were happy to oblige.
In fact, it was a duty he performed most gratefully.
"C'mon, babe, just two more steps."
Jim kept one arm firmly underneath Rafe's elbow as he encouraged and cajoled his sluggish lover into climbing the steps to reach his loft bedroom. He would have much preferred carrying the younger man there, but although he was a strong man, he didn't think he could safely manage to heft Brian up a flight of steps. Not without risking major injury to one or both of them.
There'd been a enough hurting tonight already. Ellison wasn't about to chance more.
Once they'd made the last two stair steps, Ellison turned to flick on the light. He wouldn't need it, of course, but he was more concerned about Rafe's state of mind. The other man had barely said two words since leaving the hospital, although he'd been most eloquent earlier when convincing the doctors to let him go home instead of making him stay overnight for observation. The muscle relaxants that had been injected into him were slowly making their way out of his system. He'd be a little listless for the next twelve hours or so, but in no real danger. As for the Vytal that William had made him swallow, one dose wasn't enough to cause any reaction.
Jim had thoroughly supported Brian's efforts to come home. He could see that what his lover needed was something that the medical community simply could not supply - security. He longed to wrap the smaller man in his arms and block out the rest of the world, an impossible act in a hospital bed, and he was glad when their arguments had proven successful. With the fire, going to Rafe's townhouse was out of the question. Ellison was just as happy to take him to the loft, his own territory. Sandburg had already made other plans for the night, although considering what the anthropologist had witnessed earlier, he doubted that Blair would be seeking intimate company.
The Sentinel turned back to his lover, taking Brian's hand and leading him to the bed. At the hospital, the staff had been kind enough to allow Rafe to shower and someone had even given the mostly nude young man a set of medical scrubs. The navy blue color of the fabric made him look unusually pale and emphasized the delicate shadowed circles that had appeared under his eyes. The combination made Rafe look years younger than his actual age and Jim had every intention of tucking him for the night.
To his surprise, as they neared the bed, Brian flinched back and refused to come close.
"Beds are for lovers or people you care about," Rafe whispered, eyes blank as his memory took him down a road that Ellison couldn't follow. "Sluts belong on the floor."
Jim wanted to hit something... or start crying.
"There aren't any sluts here," he soothed his lover. "Just you and me."
"Are... are you sure?"
The Sentinel smiled gently. "Absolutely. But if you don't want to lay down on the bed, babe, that's okay. We can go downstairs and cuddle on the sofa. Just as long as we're together."
He'd hit exactly the right note with the shell-shocked man. Hesitant and wan, Brian's smile nonetheless warmed Jim right down to his toes. "No, on second thought, the bed would be fine."
Rafe let his lover settle him beneath the blankets, not letting go of the older man's hand. Jim gave in to the wordless request and lay down too, happy to feel Brian snuggle up next to him. When they were situated with the younger man's head pillowed on Ellison's chest, he started to rub his hands up and down Rafe's back, hoping to sooth him into sleep. The drooping of Brian's eyelids told the Sentinel that his tactic was succeeding, but Rafe was still awake enough for a question.
"Will the hospital know to call here if something happens with your dad?"
Jim flinched, not wanting to ruin the tranquil mood with disquieting talk of his father. Still, Brian had asked and he wasn't in a frame of mind to deny him anything at the moment.
"Yeah, babe. Simon gave them all the numbers. They're bringing in a neurologist tomorrow. He got a pretty good crack in the head."
Rafe shuddered, remembering Billy Wong's vicious kicks. Jim felt the tremor and immediately increased the pressure of his massage, as if he could rub the bad experiences right out of Brian's body and memory.
"Jim, did I tell you that my father died?"
"No, babe, you didn't." The Sentinel wondered why his lover was bringing it up now, but figured that if Brian wanted to talk, he'd be happy to listen. "I'm sorry about that, I know you loved him."
"Yeah, I did. I still do. You know what was the worst?" Rafe continued, not waiting for Jim to guess. "I saw the obituary. It said he was survived by four sons. At first, I thought one of my brothers had died too. I mean, there had been five of us boys, not four. But they listed them all. Ian. Patrick. Michael. Connor. All of them, but not me."
Jim smelled the bitter salt of Brian's tears. He knew that the day's event were bringing back an older, deeper hurt but it didn't make the pain any easier for Rafe to endure. He kissed the top of his lover's head and said the only thing that he could think of. "That sucks, babe."
"That's why," the younger man explained, "I didn't want you to totally cut William out of your life. I know what it's like, to not have a chance to go back and make things right. Family is always... family. I didn't want to be the cause of you and your father having a permanent rift."
Jim brushed his fingers along Brian's jaw, applying gentle pressure to make Rafe lift his face and look at him. "Let's get one thing straight here. Whatever crap came between me and my father, most of it started long before you came on the scene. That's not your fault. And what he did these last couple of weeks, what happened today, that's definitely not your fault."
Brian brushed a kiss against Ellison's palm. "Still sucks, though," he said, a ghost of a smile playing around his lips as he echoed his lover's sentiments of a few minutes before.
Jim smiled back. "Yeah, it still sucks. Now, go to sleep, babe."
"I don't think I could stay awake if I tried," Brian admitted, punctuating his statement with a huge yawn. "You'll stay? All night?"
"You better believe it," the Sentinel answered, tightening his arms around his lover as if defying anyone to try and take him away.
Rafe soon drifted off into slumber, safe in the older man's sheltering arms. Ellison stayed awake, both to guard Brian's dreams and to savor the feeling of having his mate back with him. As the hours slid by, he spent the time in quiet contemplation, reflecting on fathers and their unique capacity to both love and hurt the sons they brought into the world.
Four Weeks Later...
Jim Ellison pulled up to Rafe's townhouse, noting again how improved it was over the evening, a month before, when a fire had been set in the garage. Normally both he and Brian were hands-on type of men, but neither had considered trying to refurbish it themselves. They had more important things on their mind, like healing.
As he exited the truck, the tall detective unknotted his tie with a grimace. He hated the things. Actually, he disliked suits in general, particularly dark suits like the one he currently wore. In his own experience, dark suits equaled unpleasant experiences. Funerals. Internal Affairs investigations. Weddings - his own to Carolyn being a prime example. Maybe it wasn't the suit, after all Brian cut a nice figure in one. Probably his dislike had to do more with the occasions they were worn at, somber gatherings of insincere people mouthing meaningless words to keep up appearances. What a waste of time.
As he approached the house, Ellison couldn't help but think it was odd that Rafe wanted to meet him here. The young man had felt uncomfortable accompanying him this afternoon, although Jim and his family had made it perfectly clear that he was welcome. But William was still a sore point with Brian, and likely would be for a while. Rafe didn't think it was appropriate and Jim simply didn't think the issue was important enough to press him.
They hadn't actually spent a lot of time at the townhouse since the abduction. At first it was because of the need for repairs, but those were quickly taken care of. The more time Rafe spent at the loft, however, the more Jim realized that he'd missed having him there all along. Before, the couple had used the townhouse for their private time, simply because Jim and a roommate and Brian didn't. Not that Ellison resented Sandburg's living with him; the anthropologist's presence made the small space more of a home rather than just a place to live. But Brian's living there, even temporarily, it filled up the lonely spots in the loft that the Sentinel never realized had been there.
It was yet another thing the whole experience with William had taught them.
Jim entered the townhouse and, having already ascertained that his lover was in the garage, cheerfully called out to him. There would be no more sneaking up or playful pouncing. Not for a while anyway.
"I'm in the garage, Jim," Brian answered. "Don't you dare come out here, I'll be right in."
Ellison grinned, glad to hear the bossy tone in the younger man's voice. Brian had been unusually dependent on him directly after he'd been rescued. The Sentinel in him had liked that, protecting his mate had been a natural instinct and cozening Rafe had been something he'd genuinely enjoyed. But it couldn't last - it wasn't healthy for either one of them and, he had to admit, he liked having a lover that was a full partner. Someone he knew could reciprocate when the need arose.
"Hey, you're back early."
Jim looked up as Brian entered the living room, smiling as he appreciated the younger man's appearance. Like his townhouse, Rafe had been through some sabotage and then a period of rebuilding. Ellison was pleased to see that some of the weight Brian dropped was back on and that a healthy tan replaced the pallor of his face. At his councilor's insistence, Brian had taken a month-long leave of absence from Major Crimes and the young man had spent the time putting in some volunteer hours at a local cemetery. His other friends thought that his spending days cleaning and repairing neglected grave sites was morbid, especially considering that Rafe was trying to recover from a traumatic experience.
Jim knew better. He remembered a conversation he'd had with Brian about cemeteries. About being reminded, no matter how bad your situation was, that there was always a worse alternative.
Rafe took a look at his lover's contemplative face and wordlessly wrapped himself around Jim. "Was it bad?"
Jim dropped a quick kiss onto Brian's lowered head. "About what we expected. The lawyers thought it was odd, but as long as they keep getting their stipend and as long as he's well cared for, they aren't going to fuss."
The lawyers in question were William's. After a month, the elder Ellison was still totally unresponsive and showed every indication that he would stay that way. The doctors didn't know what had caused his vegetative state or, to be more correct, they didn't know which of the three likely candidates had contributed most. It turned out that Dr. Linder had been most lax in entering his old friend into the Vytal testing program. The drug was supposed to be used by men with only the most severe cases of erectile dysfunction. For William, who had no dysfunction but had only wanted to use the drug to increase his sexual stamina, it had been like pouring gasoline onto a fire. Dr. Linder's negligence on that matter, plus prescribing William the muscle relaxants that had been used to subdue Rafe, had led to the suspension of the doctor's license to practice. Jim didn't think the suspension would prove permanent, but maybe the old fart would think twice about handing out drugs like they were candy to his country club set.
The head wound, inflicted when Billy Wong had kicked his mother's boss, had also caused some brain damage, although they had no way of telling how much until or unless William awoke. Last but not least, it was also likely that the emotional trauma of being brutally raped had caused him to withdraw from reality, although the doctors also thought it possible that the head injury had been so bad that he hadn't really been aware of what had been happening to him.
Having witnessed William's hoarse cries, Rafe could have told them differently.
In a small way, William was lucky. He was wealthy enough that he could be cared for in his own home and wouldn't have to endure a nursing care facility. This afternoon's meeting had been to set up a trust to manage his estate, with Stephen Ellison appointed guardian. Jim's younger brother had been taken aback when Jim had declined, but then, the detective hadn't told his sibling the whole story. Maybe he deserved to know, but if his brother had managed to hold on to any affection for their father, he wasn't about to shatter any of his illusions.
The odd part had been Sally Wong. Jim had been sickened to learn that the dead Asian man was her son. Thankfully, Simon had been the one to break the news to her and the police captain said she'd taken it better than he thought. Later on, when Jim had been at the hospital checking his father's condition, he found her at his dad's bedside. She blamed herself for what Billy had done and Ellison readily believed her sincerity. It had taken some fast talking to convince the lawyers that she was the right person to oversee his father's care, that she wouldn't try to exact some sort of weird revenge on a helpless man, but both Jim and Stephen had been insistent. With her son dead and her husband long since gone, William was all the woman had left and they weren't about to make her leave him.
Simon Banks had taken care of the rest. With a talent for obfuscating that would have done Sandburg proud, the police captain had woven a tale to explain what had happened. He knew the lovers wouldn't want the details scrutinized, so he'd come up with a story of blackmail gone wrong. In his report, Banks indicated that Wong was trying to squeeze money out of the Ellison family and that Rafe had been asked to investigate as a personal favor to Jim. The kidnaping and subsequent events happened, according to his account, when Wong discovered that William couldn't be forced to pay.
It was thin. So thin that it was remarkable that anyone with an I.Q. higher than a rock's would believe it. That was where the contacts that William had boasted of came in. It turned out that he did indeed have friends in high places. With their help, the story held.
Rafe sensed that his lover's thoughts were in a distant and unpleasant place. Reaching up, he put one hand reverently to either side of Ellison's face and then slowly stretched upwards so that he could press their lips firmly together. Kissing until he felt he had his lover's complete attention, Brian relaxed, rubbing noses with the older man until Jim smiled.
"You know," Rafe said, nipping at Ellison's lower lip, "I only have a couple days before my leave's over."
"Yeah, I know. So?"
"So, I was thinking," Brian grabbed Jim's hand and started leading him towards the garage, "I don't want to waste the whole thing. Let's do something fun..."
Ellison stopped suddenly, his grip on his lover's hand making Rafe jerk to a halt too. "Wait a minute, babe. You haven't been wasting your time. You've had some pretty important stuff to do, like getting over what happened."
Rafe smiled, loving the fierce expression on Jim's face. Ellison wouldn't let anyone dump on him, not even himself. "Okay, okay. You're right. I've been doing 'important stuff,' but now I wanna do fun stuff... before I have to go back to the P.D. and do detective stuff." He tugged on the Sentinel's hand until he got the bigger man moving towards the garage again.
Jim swatted his lover on the behind, chuckling when Rafe yelped. "That's for making of the way I talk, babe."
Hazel eyes fluttered innocently. "Would I do that?"
Ellison laughed, he loved the twinkle that was back in Brian's eyes. "Damn straight you would. Now, what sort of fun 'stuff' do have in mind?"
"C'mon, I'll show you."
Jim let Rafe lead him in the garage, his nose telling him what was there before they even got through the doorway. Wood. Brian had replaced all of the wood that had been burned in the fire that had damaged his house. Much like Brian had done when Ellison had shown him the original boards, Ellison walked around touching it, enjoying the natural springiness of the boards against his fingertips.
"I was thinking," Rafe said shyly, "that maybe we could try the shelves again. I think I'd like building something. If you're ready, that is."
Jim wasn't the people person that Sandburg was, but he instinctively knew that his lover wasn't only talking about a set of shelves. Over the last couple of weeks, they'd spent a lot of time hashing over the past. Talking about what they could change and, more importantly, what they couldn't. It was time to move on and see what the two of them could build for the future.
"Babe," Jim said thickly, thinking of the life the two of them could create, "I can't think of anything I'd like more."
"Yeah," the Sentinel said firmly, his smile answering one stretched across his lover's face. Looking around, he pretended to assess the supplies that Rafe had brought in. "You know, Bri, I think you forgot something."
Brian's forehead wrinkled as he compared what he'd bought to what Ellison had obtained before. "I did? Are you sure?"
Jim turned away in order to hide his smile. "Last time, didn't somebody mention something about a 'woody'...?"
In the yard next door, Rafe's neighbor startled when a muffled crash was heard coming from within the young man's garage. She was about to head over there to see if he needed any assistance, when loud shrieks of laughter were heard coming from inside. Shaking her head fondly, the woman went back to watering her daisies.
She'd been worried about Mr. Rafe ever since the fire had happened. He hadn't been around much for weeks afterwards, and, those few times when he had been at home, he'd looked like a pale shadow of himself. But if that particular truck was parked outside and laughter was coming from inside, no doubt the rhythmic thumping would soon begin.
It looked like everything was back to normal.
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