Not Letting Go
Would someone please save me from a particularly stubborn, always thinking of others, blue-eyed, dark-haired, and gorgeous as hell Mountie?
Pulling out of the gas stationís parking lot, I glance at Fraser before changing lanes. "Look, itís a routine call. Some kids vandalizing a vacant building. Iím sure Hansen can handle it with one hand tied behind his back. Not to mention, itís in the opposite direction of where weíre heading."
I tip-toe my fingers across the seat and claim Fraserís hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. This familiar move is rewarded with a smile that absolutely curls my toes, and if you want to know the honest to God truth, Iíll never get enough of those smiles. Not in this lifetime, at least.
Tearing my eyes away from Fraserís kissable lips, I refocus my concentration on the highway. "Besides, do I need to remind you that weíre already late for our weekly get-together with your girlfriends?"
How I got myself wrangled into keeping tabs on a group of old ladies is beyond me. Hell, it wasnít even me that had anything to do with helping them set up a neighborhood watch. That was before my time, back when Fraser was paired with Vecchio. But ever since the two of us hooked up, Iíve been going with him to check on the members of what I call his ĎFab Five Fan Club.í Thereís about five or so women that really clicked with Fraser, and we head over to the community center at least once a week, where we play cards, chat and basically check to see how theyíre all doing.
"Frase, you know how upset Gladys gets when weíre late, and I donít know about you or Dief, but Iíd prefer not to have my ass paddled by an 83 year-old cane-totiní granny. Those damn knitting needles of hers hurt like hell."
My ass twitches at the thought and for a second I canít help but squirm in my seat. "Why is it she always assumes itís my fault weíre late? Last time I checked I wasnít the only member of this pack. And just Ďcause you played Superman for them once donít mean youíre invaluable."
"Yeah, that, too." I thank Fraser with a swift pat to his knee. "I mean as rare as it may be, you do make mistakes, and itís only fair that your ass should get its fair dose of punishment, especially if youíre the reason weíre late for tonightís poker game." A thought crosses my mind, and the next pat to Fraserís knee becomes a slap of frustration. "Speaking of games, if one more of those old biddies challenges me to a game of strip poker, Iím gonna---"
"Yeah?" A jackass pedestrian jaywalking distracts my attention for a moment. "Yeah, Frase?"
"Ray, would you be so kind as to turn the car around so that we might offer our assistance to Officer Hansen?"
Damnation, I so need to figure out a way to market my loverís puppy-dog eyes. Christ, Iíd make a fortune for sure.
Knowing without a doubt that Iím waging a hopeless battle, I make a quick U-turn and glare at Fraser when he opens his mouth to enlighten me of my illegal maneuver. "Okay," I say with just the tiniest bit of pissiness in my voice, "weíll go see if Hansen needs help, but I tell you what, I am not taking the heat for this one. Youíre gonna be the one to explain to the Granny Gestapo why weíre late. Of course, knowing your luck, theyíll declare you some hero and shower you with fresh-baked goodies, which by the way you better darn well share with me and Dief. Weíre the three musketeers, right, and what one gets---"
"What now? I turned the car Ďround like you asked. Yeah, I made that illegal U-turn, but at least I didnít plow through this red light. I stopped like a good boy. What else can you possibly want now?"
"Huh? Oh . . . I . . . Fra---"
Oh yeah. Market those eyes and those lips, and itíll be good-bye Bill Gates, hello zillionaire Raymond Kowalski.
Man, I love the way Fraser licks his lips after we kiss. Itís like heís searching for a final taste of me. "Thatís fighting dirty, Frase, kissiní me and such."
Make that stubborn, always thinking of others, blue-eyed, dark-haired, gorgeous as hell and smug Mountie. But hey, who cares, especially when said Mountie is expertly groping my dick.
Yep, yep. I do believe Iíll forgive Mr. Smugmeister.
"Iím thinking once we finish checking on Hansen, you and I could go up on the roof of the Marquette Building. We havenít been there since we first started dating." Taking advantage of another red light, I scoot as close to Fraser as my seatbelt will allow and nibble on his earlobe. "Thereís a full moon out tonight. How Ďbout it, Gorgeous? Say yes, and Iíll show you just how much I appreciate all those delicious home-cooked lunches youíve been preparing for me this past week." Nobody makes mac-n-cheese like my man here.
"Wonít your demonstration of gratitude prevent us from keeping our appointed social engagement? What about Gladys?"
Fraserís voice has dropped real low and is just a bit raspy, sorta like how it sounds after heís deep-throated me for hours on end. It absolutely sets me on fire, not to mention adds lead to the foot currently on the gas pedal. One look at Fraser licking his lips again and I suddenly feel the need for speed. The smell of burnt rubber wafts through my window as I peel away. "Gladys will just have to find some other schmuck to be her knitting partner. I do believe Iíll be engaged otherwise."
"Ray, you are impossible."
Sneaking a hand between Fraserís legs, I do some groping of my own and grin at the blush that immediately spreads across my loverís face. "Actually, Iíd say Iím horny as hell and ready to fuck all night long. Got a word for that, Mr. Brainiac?"
A routine call. A fucking routine call that became anything but routine the second Fraser saw the kid hiding behind Hansen.
Seems Hansen did need assistance, heavenly assistance that is. Poor guy walked into a drug buy that escalated into a shoot-out and forfeited his life because he wouldnít wait for backup. Iíd radioed that we were on our way, but the old fool was unwilling to cool his heels. You know people say patience is a virtue. Well, they also need to say itíll save your life. Maybe if they said it that way, Hansen wouldnít be face down dead in a pool of blood, and Fraser wouldnít be lying next to him, his right shoulder sporting a bullet wound the size of Lake Michigan.
Jesus Christ Almighty, how did things get out of control so damn fast?
"Kid, put the gun down."
I step in front of Fraser and hold my hand out to the boy aiming a gun at my loverís head. He canít be any older than fifteen. Shit! Fifteen and already a cop killer. What the hell is this world coming to when babies start murdering the good guys so they can score some fucking dope?
"Please, kid. Put the gun down."
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the dark patch of blood staining the shoulder of Fraserís uniform jacket growing wider and wider by the second, and my heart stutters to a stop when the call to rescue my mate from further harm becomes a deafening roar in my ears. Tightening the grip on my gun, I inch closer to the teen. "Donít make this any worse than it already is, kid. Youíve killed one cop. Letís not make it two."
I hear the sound of the pistolís hammer cock at the same moment I see the red dot slide into place over the boyís heart. Thank God some busybody called the cavalry. The shot aimed at Fraser goes wide when the sharpshooterís bullet slams into the youth, knocking him back several feet. The instant the kidís gun fires, I dive to the side and cover Fraserís injured body with my own, the only thought racing through my mind is that of protecting my partner and mate at any cost.
At. Any. Cost.
Thereís an eruption of sound and movement as officers swarm the area, but the only thing I can focus on is the familiar sound of Fraserís heartbeat. I clutch his arms and bury my face in the crook of his neck, not caring who sees my uncontrolled display of emotion.
"Itís over, Frase. Youíre okay. Iíve got you."
"I knew you would come, Ray. I had no doubt, whatsoever."
Fraser somehow finds the strength to lift his hand and tangle it in my hair, offering me the comfort of his touch. Can you believe it? Heís the one injured. I should be comforting him, not the other way around.
Finally the ambulance crew arrives, and I forcibly remove myself from Fraser, allowing them to tend to his wound. The second they declare him fit to move, Fraser grabs my hand and refuses to let go. Even when they load him onto the stretcher and then into the ambulance, he maintains a bone-crushing grip on my hand. Thatís greatness with me. I wasnít letting go of him either, not now, not ever.
Heaven better damn well take notice.
"Do you need something else for the pain, Frase?"
Itís been five hours since the shooting, four of those spent waiting for Fraser to get out of surgery and into a room. The long vigil was spent in the company of friends and co-workers, not to mention the Granny Gestapo, who naturally arrived laden with tons of get-well gifts.
The second after they took Fraser into surgery, I made a few calls, one of them being to the community center. You know how grandmothers tend to worry, and since those ladies consider us their adopted grandsons, I knew I had to tell them why we wouldnít be keeping our date. The old gals made it to the hospital in record time, because, according to Mrs. Chaffey, they laid on both the gas and the horn, and ran every darn red light along the way.
"I can go get the nurse if youíre hurting." My fingers slowly glide up Fraserís bare arm and trace the edges of the bandage peeking out from beneath the knitted blanket Gladys insisted I cover Fraser with. Itís a pretty nice blanket, but wait Ďtil Fraser gets a look at those new socks heís wearing on his feet.
"I appreciate you asking, Ray, but the pain is somewhat bearable at this moment."
Fraser glances around the room, and I can tell heís confused by the wealth of flowers and gifts. "What can I say, babe? Youíre a popular guy."
Pointing to the not one but two bedside tables that are positioned at the foot of the bed, I enlighten him as to whatís what. "The fruit basket is from Turnbull, and he said to make sure you eat every single piece for it will help speed your recovery. Personally, Iíd stay away from the apples. I know an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but I swear I saw a worm wiggle out of the one on top."
Moving on, I indicate the flower arrangements. "The really nice one is from the gang at work. Iíd show you the card they sent, but itís x-rated, and you might pull a stitch laughing. Weíll save it for when youíre up to doing what it says will make you feel all better." I waggle my eyebrows at Fraser and grin when he blushes with embarrassment. "Youíll enjoy it, Frase. Believe me, youíll enjoy it."
My hackles rise when I point at the next bunch of flowers. "Now, the extremely hideous arrangement with the ĎI love youí balloons is courtesy of, you guessed it, Frannie. ĎNuff said about that." I dismiss the arrangement with a curt wave of my hand. "The cookies, fudge and cakes are from your girlfriends, who by the way took Dief home with them. Can I tell ya he was none too happy about leaving all those goodies behind?"
Fraser chuckles, but his smile is tinged with pain, and I immediately ring for the nurse. Since needles freak me out, I slide off the bed and busy myself removing Frannieís flowers to farthest corner of the room while Florence Nightingale does her thing. Iíd really like to pitch the flowers out the window, but I know it would upset Fraser, and he sure as hell doesnít need upsetting at this particular moment. I take out my frustration by puncturing each one of the balloons with my pocket knife. Nobody but me showers Fraser with declarations of love.
"I saw that, Ray."
The nurse has left the room, and with a not so contrite grin on my face, I resume my seat on the edge of Fraserís bed. "Youíd think sheíd get the hint by now. Jesus, Frase, weíve been living together as a committed couple for the last two years. Are all Vecchios that dense in the head?"
Frannieís infatuation with my man is an extremely sore subject with me, and Fraser wisely closes the conversation with a simple, "She means well, Ray."
Seeing the determined glint in Fraserís eyes, I know itís time to move on to something else. "Howís your feet doing? Are they toasty warm?"
"My feet were not injured in the altercation, Ray. Why would you be inquiring as to their condition?"
"Take a peak, and youíll find out why." I lift the covers off Fraserís lower legs and grin at the gasp he lets out.
"Yep. That about says it all." I lower the covers and carefully straighten them back to their original pristine condition before moving toward the head of the bed and bumping hips with Fraser. "I do believe the old girl is color-blind," I declare with a smile after Fraser scoots over and makes room for me to sit beside him on the bed.
"Undoubtedly, but itís the thought that counts, Ray."
"Tell that to Dief next time he comes home wearing one of her latest creations."
Fraser snuggles closer to me, and I gently wrap my arm around his waist. "You feeliní a little bit better now?"
"Much. Thank you."
Kissing Fraserís forehead, I whisper, "Youíre welcome."
Minutes pass as we take comfort in each otherís presence and just when Iím figuring Fraserís dropped off to sleep, he says, "Please remind me to send everyone a thank-you card when I am released from the hospital."
"You got it, Gorgeous."
Fraser turns his head and presses a tender kiss to my cheek. "And while weíre on the subject of offering wishes of appreciation, have I thanked you for saving me once again?"
All of a sudden the words stick in my throat, and I canít speak. The only answer I can offer Fraser is a firm squeeze of his hand.
"Good thing I am not a cat, Ray." My lover shares a conspiratorial grin with me. "That would have been my ninth and last life if you had not shown up when you did." Fraser, with a nod of his head, indicates the pink plastic water pitcher on the stand beside his bed. "May I please have a drink of water, Ray?"
Fraserís words echo in my head as I pour him a glass of water.
Last life, last life, last life.
The reality of the situation hits home like a wrecking ball to my heart, and I drop the glass, watching in shock as my hands begin to shake uncontrollably. My knees suddenly turn to jelly, and I can hear Fraser calling to me from a distance as I stumble back against the wall and slide down until Iím sitting on my ass. The image of Fraser lying on that filthy cold cement floor, blood staining the red serge of his uniform torments my mind, and I canít stop the broken whispers that spill out of my mouth.
"Last life, last life."
Tears flood my eyes as I curl in on myself and give into the fear, the anger, the horror of living a life without the man I love. My body is suddenly ice cold, and my heart is racing so fast it chokes off my breath. The room begins to gray around the edges leaving a tunnel of vision through which all I can see is Fraser, Fraser dying, Fraser dead.
"No! No! NO!"
I donít even realize Iím yelling until Fraser closes my mouth with a kiss.
"Ray. I am right here. I am not dead."
And he is, Fraserís right there on the floor with me, alive and breathing and squeezing the shit out of my hand. How the hell he maneuvered himself out of that hospital bed, Iíll never know.
Ignoring his injured shoulder, Fraser pulls me into his arms in an attempt to shelter me from the nightmare that refuses to let go of my mind. "Ray, look at me. Open your eyes, and look at me."
With his thumbs, Fraser brushes the tears from my cheeks as he lifts my head. I devour the love shining from his blue eyes and the gentle smile that graces his handsome face. Again, I clutch at his arms, lowering my head so that I can listen to the strong beat of his heart. Itís the sound I go to sleep with every night and the one I wake up to every morning. Itís a sound Iím not sure I could live without.
"Do you hear it, Ray? Can you hear my heart beating?" Fraser holds my head to his chest with one hand while his other clumsily sweeps up and down my back, soothing the tremors I canít seem control. "Youíll be hearing that sound for many more years to come, Ray. Believe me."
ĎPromise me, Fraser,í I want to scream. ĎPromise me youíll never die, never leave me.í Itís a hopeless plea, I know, a promise our line of work wonít let us keep.
Fraser helps me to my feet and, instead of letting me go, he guides me to his hospital bed and tucks me under the covers, spooning in behind me before I can find the words to protest. He then starts clucking like the mother hen he can sometimes be while capturing my hands and holding them tight as he plants soft kisses up my neck and behind my ear.
I know I should get out of Fraserís bed. Hell, he just had surgery. He needs his rest, not to mention heís in no fucking shape to be coddling my wimpy ass. But Iím so cold, so scared, I donít think I could move even if I wanted to. "Frase?"
Fraser buries his face in the curve of my shoulder and worms his hand beneath my shirt, placing it over my racing heart. "I am not going anywhere, Ray. I will remain with you for as long as I draw breath."
I snuggle closer to my mate and close my eyes, every muscle in my body collapsing with exhaustion. Fraserís not leaving. Not at this moment, and not, hopefully, for a very long time.
Placing my hand over the one Fraser has tucked under my shirt, I finally give into Mr. Sandmanís call. My brain focuses on only one thought as I slide into sleep.
Heaven will have to find itself another angel. This one is hanging out with me.
Authorís note: The Marquette Building is a Chicago historical landmark built in 1895. The building is named for Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary and explorer who, in 1674-75, wintered in the area that is now Chicago. The lobby is decorated with mosaic panels made by the Tiffany firm and bronze heads of Native Americans, animals, and early explorers. Seems like just the type of building Fraser would like to investigate.