Victoria Returns

YeungMaiSu (a.k.a. Beth) really knows what she wants: Fraser and Ray K in an established relationship, a traumatic event, the realization of some truths about themselves, a good result. She also mentioned, en passant, that Victoria should come back. Phew.

Just kidding. The Moo loves specifics.

Recent psychological discussions about Ray V have been shamelessly appropriated. TYK to all those who have unwittingly contributed.

And, I’ve ended up having to paint my sweet Vecchio in a bit more negative light than he deserves. Sometimes I want to strangle PG for that absurd ending of COTW. When asked, I fic either Ray with equal diligence but in my heart of hearts – ah, nuff said.

Rating: the usual moo-ish circumlocution (talking around the sex). And the odd cuss-word.

For two long years, Fraser had tried to make himself believe his friendship with this new Ray could be like the brotherhood he had felt with Vecchio. For two years he refused to let himself understand that this would not happen. To admit that would be to admit he had lost the only true friend of his adulthood. Rather than face that, he tried to make Kowalski take over more than the name, badge and desk of Ray Vecchio.

The two Rays were too unlike each other for this to be. Vecchio, like Fraser himself, wasn’t one to put their kinship into words. They bickered and fussed and also stood by each other without admitting how close they were. Once, and only once, as they walked across an airport runway, did Ray speak of Fraser as his partner. The word itself shocked the Mountie but he managed to hide his inner reeling and carry on with the banter.

Kowalski? His façade of head-kicking bravado was so thin that Fraser marveled that it held together at all. Easy playground camaraderie was not for him. Fraser came to learn the effectiveness of telling this Ray, flat out and without teasing, how much he was valued. It was a style of friendship Fraser was not accustomed to, but adopted when he saw what a good effect it had on his new friend.

If there was more to this than simply a different kind of personality, Fraser chose not to see it. What he could not avoid seeing was the way Kowalski looked at him - eyes liquid with the kind of longing the Mountie usually saw in the eyes men as they gazed at beautiful women. From time to time the curtain of Fraser’s denial slipped and he sensed Kowalski’s real feeling.

The slip could only be momentary, however. Fraser had no aversion to being loved by another man per se, but his own experience of love had only been with women. Moreover, he couldn’t let go of the desire to make this Ray stand in place of his other Ray. Intellectually he knew they were different people and adapted his outward behaviour to this Ray’s needs. But there was always the desire, which he hid quite effectively, to have things as they once were, and this Ray as Ray once was. For that to happen, Ray had to be a brother and not a lover.

And then Ray came back. Ray came back in body but he did not bring back with him the attitudes of before. Hard as it was for Fraser to believe, Ray took off with Stella while Fraser was still in the north. This second abandonment hurt worse than the first. Fraser never really knew whether Ray had gone unwillingly undercover and would have stayed in Chicago if he could. But this time he clearly left of his own free will.

What of Thatcher? On that night before the battle with Muldoon, they had finally made love. What a strange night it had been. They had come as close as two people could come, physically, and on the same occasion realized they had no future together.

So all that was left for Fraser now, emotionally, was the love he had been trying to tune out for two years. Even so, he could not bring himself to talk to his partner about it yet. Instead, he arranged for them to go off alone on an absurd quest. When they were three days by dogsled from the company of any other humans, Fraser finally found the courage to move close to Ray as they sat by their fire, and take him in his arms.

Ray’s reaction surprised him. He pulled away and said, “Fraser, are you sure you want this? I mean, are you sure you want US to do THIS?”

Fraser had always been honest “No, Ray, I’m not sure. I want you to show me how it would be, because I’ve never . . . loved . . . another man . . . in this way.”

Ray smiled, “Fraser . . . no, Benton . . . I love you. And I want to show how much I love you. As soon as we get to anything you don’t want do, we stop. You got that?”

“I’ll try not to disappoint you, Ray. I’m just not used to . . . this.”

"Yeah. Well I got a feeling you’re going to like “this”. But just understand me here. I love you and I’m going to keep on loving you whether we do “this” or not. I can live without “this” but I won’t live without you. You’re so smart - don’t tell me you didn’t figure that out already.”

“This” turned out to be easier and more wonderful than Fraser had imagined. They honeymooned for a week, making love and making plans, before turning back to civilization, their real quest now achieved. Fraser turned down any number of assignments in Canada in favour of staying in Chicago and making a home with the man he was finally able to love.

Ray had wanted to come out and proclaim their relationship to the world, but Fraser was more cautious. They took a two-bedroom apartment for the three of them: Ray, Fraser and Diefenbaker, and kept Fraser’s clothes and belongings in one of the bedrooms to maintain the fiction that they were no more than room-mates.

“People will think we’re like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, a detective and another man sharing bachelors’ quarters,” was Fraser’s take on the situation.

Ray had protested. He wanted to be out in the open. “I’m not ashamed, Benton. I let the world know I loved Stella. You don’t deserve any less. You do not deserve less. I want the world to know I love YOU now.”

But Fraser made him see the danger to their careers if the true nature of their partnership was made public. “The world’s not ready to know, Ray. We’d be foolish to ignore that.”

Welsh came into the canteen where Fraser and Ray stood getting coffee out of a vending machine.

“Ah, Constable, there you are. I need you for a line-up.”

Ray protested automatically, “He doesn’t really work here. You can’t use him in a line-up.”

But Fraser was studying Welsh a bit more carefully and noted the sadness in his eyes.

“I don’t need him to stand in a line-up. He has to look at some suspects IN the line-up. Room six, Constable. They’re waiting for you.”

Fraser nodded, set his Styrofoam cup on the closest table and headed out of the canteen and up the stairs. Welsh turned to Ray. “Stay with him. He’s going to need you.”

Ray and his boss exchanged a quick look of understanding. For all that they never actually announced their relationship, those closest to Ray and Fraser figured out what was happening without being told. Then Ray hurried after his partner without stopping to put his own cup down, spilling hot coffee over his hand as he ran. He didn’t even notice it. Welsh did notice, as he followed Ray up the stairs.

Fraser walked up to the familiar glass partition. He’d been on this side of the glass often enough and also knew what it was like to be on either side of it. He took the place he knew was designated for him as witness, smiling slightly in greeting at the officers who stood aside to make room for him. Ray and Welsh came up behind and positioned themselves a little behind the Mountie.

Fraser looked through the glass. His chest went tight and for a moment he stopped breathing. It couldn’t be possible. Instead of leaning forward for a closer view, he bent backwards as though to distance himself from what he was seeing. His breath came back with a sudden “uh” that sounded like a cry of pain.

Lined up in front of him were five women. Number two was Victoria.

“Only you and Vecchio ever claimed to have actually seen Victoria Metcalfe in Chicago three years ago.” said Welsh formally, “But you had somewhat more contact with her, and since you’re already here and Vecchio is in Florida . . .”

Victoria’s jet black hair was shorter now, just to chin level. It still had a slight curl although it was now too short to hang in the same unruly tangles. She was still thin. Her head and eyes still twitched and darted as though she were trying to escape a hunter. One of the younger officers, standing by, said, “Please hold still, ma’am.”

“How did you find her?” Fraser whispered.

“First, make the identification, Constable.”

“How did you find her?” Fraser insisted.

Welsh shrugged, then went into an explanation as they all stood there, but all Fraser was really interested in knowing was whether she had asked after him or not. Had she really cared if lived or died after being shot by Ray on the platform? So he absorbed little of the story of her capture, waiting for Welsh to finish, and then asked, “Did she ask about me?”

“No,” said Welsh, “Fraser, I have to ask you to make the identification,” he added, gently.

“Number two,” Fraser whispered.

The small part of Fraser’s mind that was still able to focus outside of himself shut down at that moment and all his thoughts retreated into the past. He felt again the panic as he tore through Ray’s house, the mix of helplessness and rage at being manipulated, the surge of desire as he saw her riding away on the train, the tearing of Ray’s bullet into his back, the guilt of betraying Ray’s trust.

And now here she was. Just when he thought he had done with women, done with Vecchio, done with the pains of the past, here she was. The sight of her held him riveted. He couldn’t move.

Fraser heard Welsh say “You’d better take him home.”

Fraser felt something warm on his shoulder. Even without turning his head to see, he knew the touch was Ray’s hand. Fraser jerked his shoulder to shake the hand off. Not now, this wasn’t anything to do with the Ray of now.

“I want to talk to her,” Fraser said.

“I’ll get her into a lockup first. Wait here.” Welsh gave instructions to the officers, and everyone but Fraser and Ray went about their business.

Fraser watched through the glass as the women in the line up turned and filed out. Suddenly he wanted to punch his fists through the glass and take Victoria by the throat. Throughout all the things she had done; lying, killing, framing him and Ray, he had still loved her. But this final insult he could not bear. She hadn’t asked about him.

Fraser had no awareness of how he got from the identification room to the holding cell. It was Ray that had led him there on Welsh’s instructions. Ray positioned the Mountie in front of the bars of the holding cell and stood back.

Fraser came to life again at the sight of her. He trembled and started to breathe very hard, making panting noises.

She looked at him with one of her tiny, tight-lipped smiles and breathed a short “Hi”. She waggled her long fingers at him.

She was standing close enough to the bars he could reach through them and get his hands around her neck. He raised his hands slightly and moved towards the cell. She shrank away from him to the far wall of the cell where he could not reach her. Finally Fraser’s rage burst. He lunged at the bars, shoving his arms through towards her.

“I guess you’re mad at me, hunh,” she said from against the wall. Her tone was flippant, teasing even though she was cornered.

He screamed at her, out of control. “You didn’t care! I could have lived or died and you didn’t bother to find out! You! Never! Cared! Damn you!” His chest pushed against the bars and he kept reaching for her, the veins standing out in his arms as he strained them in her direction.

She pressed herself against the far wall. She was afraid now, although she was physically safe from him.

Ray was afraid, too. Fraser out of control and howling shocked him. He thought he knew all the moods of his partner, but he had never seen him like this.

“I thought you were dead. I would have come back for you if I thought you were alive,” Victoria said, now sounding scared.

“Liar!” Fraser shrieked. “You never told me the truth – not once! You never loved me!”

“I’m sorry,” she said, simply.

Fraser’s arms dropped and he stayed leaning, drained, against the bars. Ray sensed it was safe to talk to him and came closer, but didn’t touch him. “I’ll take you home. Okay?”

But Fraser wasn’t finished. He started to cry, with soft, coughing gasps. Victoria stayed pressed against the back wall of the holding cell. Neither she nor Ray dared touch him.

After a few moments, Fraser’s sobs eased off. He straightened, sniffed and wiped his eyes with the back of one fist, like a child. Between deep breaths he said, “I think I should go home.”

"Right.” Ray relaxed a little now that the worst seemed to be over. “I’ll get your hat for you and we’ll get out of here.”

Fraser was suddenly angry again. He whirled around to face Ray and shouted, “No! Stay away from me! You weren’t here. You don’t know what it was like. Just stay away.” He tore out of the room, leaving Ray and Victoria alone with each other.

Ray knew the facts about Victoria, Fraser and Vecchio from files he had had to study, but Fraser never spoke about the episode. From time to time when Ray felt particularly hurt by some misdeed of The Stella, he reminded himself that Fraser had been through much worse.

So, this was the famous Victoria. Even in her fear, she still looked cunning and dangerous. It had been hard, until now, for Ray to believe that what he had read about her could be true. But now, seeing her, it all made sense. Fraser would have had no chance against her.

Victoria came forward and sat down on the bare bunk in the cell. She tilted her head a little to the side and peered into Ray’s face. He flinched a little, feeling threatened by her gaze even though she was the one behind bars.

“I wasn’t very nice to him when I was here before.”

“So I’ve heard,” Ray said tersely.

She was still studying him. “You said ‘we’ll go home.’” Does that mean you two have the same home?”

“We’re room-mates, yeah.”

She nodded. “I’m glad he has a . . .” she paused significantly “ . . . room-mate. Tell me something. That wolf of his, did it die?”

Ray had been too stunned to react much until now, but now he started to be angry. “You’re asking about the wolf? You never cared if Fraser lived or died and now you’re asking about the fucking wolf!”

“I told Ben and I’m telling you, though it’s none of your damn business. I thought Ben was dead.”

“Bullshit.” Ray started to leave the holding area, then just before going through the door into the hallway, turned to say, “Diefenbaker’s fine. He lives with us.”

“One big happy family, eh?” She sneered as she said it. With Fraser safely gone her confidence had now returned.

“Yeah. I guess that’s the kind of thing somebody like you can’t understand.” And Ray left.

Ray passed by his own desk to pick up his car keys and found that Fraser hadn’t gone home. He was leaning his elbows on Ray’s desk with his head in his hands. He didn’t seem to be crying any longer, but sat motionless, oblivious to the stares and murmuring of the detectives around him. Everyone fell silent as Ray approached. Fraser raised his head and Ray could see that the Mountie’s face was pale, no longer flushed with anger. Only his eyes were still red.

“You waited,” Ray said. He reached around Fraser to fish about his desk for the keys, but didn’t find them.

Fraser gave a small, sad chuckle. “I was going to take the car, but Lieutenant Welsh wouldn’t let me drive. He took the keys out of my hand.”

Welsh himself, Ray now noticed, was standing in his office doorway, dangling Ray’s key ring on the end of his pinky. “Kowalski, make sure this witness gets home okay. Get him settled. Spend some time if you have to.”

Welsh is one great guy, Ray thought, as he collected Fraser’s hat from the coat-rack and the car keys from the Lieutenant’s outstretched hand. Then he took Fraser by the elbows, eased him out of the chair and out of the bullpen.

They drove back to their apartment, parked, went up the elevator and entered the apartment with without saying a word to each other. Fraser still seemed a little dazed so Ray steered him towards the kitchen, sat him down and put on the kettle to make him some tea.

Fraser was the first to speak. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you. It wasn’t you I was yelling at.”

“I know. I know that.”

Fraser looked as though he would start crying again. Ray turned away, figuring Fraser would be able to get control better unwatched. He was right. He heard his lover inhale sharply, sigh and then say, calmly, “Do we have any doughnuts left?”

Diefenbaker, alerted by the word “doughnuts” came and stood by Fraser. The Mountie ruffled the hair on the top of the wolf’s head. “I know, I know but this is a special circumstance. I’m upset and carbohydrates have a calming affect on me.”

Even Ray could pick up the interrogative tone of the wolf’s answering whine.

“Remember that woman who shot you? I saw her today,” Fraser explained to the animal with all seriousness. Meanwhile Ray got a bag of doughnuts from the cupboard and put it on the table.

Diefenbaker made some yipping and whimpering noises.

“Oh, very well.” Fraser fished about in the bag for a doughnut with chocolate icing. “I’m not in the mood to be strict. Here.” Fraser extended the pastry to his canine friend.

Ray took out the kind he knew Fraser liked best, plain with no filling and no topping, and put it on a plate for him. The kettle whistled. Ray took the teapot from a shelf above the sink.

“Earl Grey?” he asked.

Fraser shook his head. “Better make it linden. I’d be better off without the caffeine right now.”

Ray dropped a teabag into the pot, poured water in and left it to steep. Fraser sat, brooding, absently nibbling on his doughnut now and then. Ray didn’t push him. He knew Fraser would talk when he was ready.

Linden tea took longer than regular tea to reach a drinkable strength. After ten minutes, Ray poured a mugful and put it in front of Fraser. Then he took a Coke from the fridge and sat down with it at the opposite side of the table.

Fraser was still sitting, dazed it seemed, but refocused his attention on Ray when Ray sat down. “She won’t be convicted for murder. There were no witnesses. It was my gun, but there’s no proof she was the one that took it. She wiped her prints off the gun, everything she touched in my apartment, and everything she touched in Ray’s house. No proof.”

“I read in your report that she told you she killed him. She admitted it to you.”

Fraser shook his head sadly. “My word against hers.”

“Unless she confesses,” Ray offered.

Fraser sipped his tea. “She might do that,” he agreed. “And make a case for self-defense. I’m the one that gave her that idea.” He finished the last bite of his doughnut and was about to push the plate aside when Ray dropped another doughnut onto it. Fraser looked up and said, “You’re a bad influence.”

“You know,” said Ray, “In a way, I owe her.”

“How so?”

Ray scooted his chair around until it was beside Fraser’s. He put a hand over the Mountie’s hand. “If she hadn’t chewed you all up and spit you out, you might have gone on being interested in . . .well . . .”

“. . . being interested in women,” the Mountie supplied. “You may not have ended up with me, had it not been for her. Is that what you mean?”

Ray ducked his head. “I guess that’s pretty selfish. You suffered all that, and here I am being glad it happened.”

Fraser looked thoughtful. “I guess I’m just doomed to fall in love with evil people.”

Then he smiled and they both knew he would be all right.


Back to Birthday Menu