By Lopaka Tanu
Fandom: Due South
for adult situations.
Category: AU, m/m Slash
Depression, Angst, Abuse, Rape, Violence, Language, and Character Death.
Beta: None, so be warned.
Series/Sequel: None planned.
Couples: Ray K/Renfield Turnbull
and Ray K/Benton Fraser
Challenge: 11. Runaways - Was your character a
runaway teen once upon a time? If so, what were they running from, or to? Or
perhaps your character's soft heart leads them to take in a runaway they find
wandering the streets? Now what? Do they convince the runaway to go home? Or
find another solution? What's the story?
Archive: Yes, just say where
and I will love you forever. Really, I am not a stalker, I just like to visit
the kids every once and a while.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Due South,
but the story premise is mine. May be some OCs too, but not much else. All
rights are reserved by those who own them, and all that good stuff. Ya want some
of the ideas, feel free to take them. I love to inspire people, I am a muse too.
Now feel special and love me.
FeedBack: Send to email@example.com.
Summary: Stanley Raymond Kowalski has not had it easy growing up in the
slums of Chicago, but he is a realist, knows there are things that could be a
lot worse. His friends are proof of this. As things get worse, he makes a
decision and hopes he might be better for it. When he comes home, he finds
things are different, and that they were worse than he ever imagined.
Author's Note: Are we all blind to the world? Do we see what we want, if
so, what happens if things are worse than we thought?
by Real McCoy.
"Run Away, Run Away, Run Away to Save Your Life."
over the horizon partially obscuring the setting sun. A cool breeze blew through
the parking lot from the great lake causing him to shift the black coat closer.
Looking out over the scrawling city as the buildings stood like so many towers
attempting to touch the face of god, he wondered if the builders fancied
themselves gods. In their own right they might have been, for there was no
structure like them on all the Earth.
Gazing out on them, he felt like
god himself. Sitting here in judgment of their creations, deeming them worthy or
not of his divine light. For a moment he could picture himself the pharaoh over
Egypt, the yellow parking block his throne, and the parking lot his palace. All
the peoples of this city of glass and concrete his loyal subjects building the
mighty monuments to his greatness.
Snorting derisively, he blew the
smoke through his nostrils as he stamped out the existence of the flame on his
cigarette. "I smite thee mortal in the name of my lord Ra." Chuckling, he put
the book he had sitting in his lap back in his bag. The myths of the ancient
world could only take him away for so long before reality came back.
Gone was the many worshipers and their offerings, in their place was a
cold city alive with traffic and pollution; the god of death now merely a boy in
black. People who didn't give a damn populated the once glorious streets of his
home. She had once seemed magical, like anything could happen. Then he learned
that her magic was very much real and anything did happen. Chicago was not named
the windy city for nothing, for nothing could remain static in the great gales.
His life had started out complicated and had only gotten worse from
there. She had been his world, she gave him everything. On his seventh birthday
she had given him the world. A thick book on the myths of the world; the hopes,
dreams, and wishes of all of humanity for untold millennia; or as she called it,
the world. "The answers of life are inside this book," she had told him, "if you
ever have a question, simply read the book and you will find an answer."
She had died on his seventh birthday, struck down by a car in front of
him. They had taken him to live with his father, a man here to so far unknown to
him. Through tears, he had read the book from cover to cover. There was no
answer, she had lied. Yet, still he kept the book. A hope that she had not, that
there was an answer. That and the fact it was all he had left of her.
Something was off with her that day. She had looked different. After ten
years, he still did not know what was so different about her that day. An
inscription in the book done in eyeliner was his only clue. Something she had
quickly written down when he had asked her what changed.
One must look with-in, to see the changes with-out. Objects of affection
are often hidden with-in plain sight. A hero must learn true wisdom if he is
ever to posses the stars of a goddess. Remember, a promise is a promise.
No matter what he had tried, there was
no answer to this riddle.
Shortly after he was brought to live with
Daimon Kowalski, he learned that life was never going to be the same. The old
bastard, as he was soon dubbed by Ray, never wanted a son and he made sure Ray
knew this at every occasion. South side of Chicago was the low rent slums and
the catholic neighborhoods. This was their home for the next ten years, a run
down building with bad pipes.
Over the next decade, he had formed
friendships and relationships with a small group of people. These six kids would
be his new world, the pantheon of his gods. Now it was all he had.
the first day of school in his new home, he learned of the four castes. Nothing
was written, but it was an unspoken law among them which was which. There was
first those that knew everything and owned everything. They were the rich or
middle class kids. Next were the jocks, all little league was a cult to him.
Basketball, baseball, and Football were important to these people. The third
caste was the general group, those that were the hangers on of the first two or
those jealous of them.
The final grouping was made up of six people,
those no body wanted. Having attended the same church before school, they had
banded together in defense against the others. It was one of these that had
first spoken to Ray, and befriended him when the others would not.
A quiet, cold morning in November found
him crying on the play ground as the other kids sat in class. Ray rubbed a hand
under his nose as the other wiped the tears away from his eyes. His snaut
covered hand was quickly rubbed on his jeans.
glare at the speaker, he was shocked to see a girl from his class. "What do you
want? Come ta gloat over tha loser some more?"
With a dark smirk, she
sat down beside him, spreading her dress out on the cold grass. "I guess so. You
know, if you had some manners, and stopped some of them nasty habits... like
rubbing your boogers off on your pants, which, by the way, EW, I might be
inclined to treat you like at least a dog. Because everybody knows boys aren't
mature enough to be treated as human."
"Yeah, then why don't I just bite
ya on tha ass and chase you around the school and growl at ya?" He looked her up
and down, his eyes still partially blurry. "Nah, you'd probably enjoy it!"
She sighed as she pulled a plastic bag from her pocket. "What a shame, I
thought you might at least to be trained." Pulling out a gummy worm from the
bag, she sighed again. "Oh well." Then stuck it in her mouth, sucking it in like
noodle. "You know, these gummies aren't quite as tasty as the real thing."
"What would you know about eating worms?"
"Are you kiddin? I
have an older brother, and sister. Both of them got their heads shoved so far up
their asses, they can't see the sun shine."
This made Ray laugh as she
joined him. After a moment, she offered him a worm.
"Like I said, not as
good as the real thing, but you gotta start some where."
Ray watched her
eat anther worm after offering him one. There was something familiar about her,
like he knew her all his life. "You gotta name?"
After a minute, it became apparent that was all she was going to say
unless prompted further. So he stuck out his hand. "Name's Ray Kowalski."
She looked at it disdainfully, and then took hold of his wrist. While he
watched in shock, she spit on his palm, and used her dress to clean off his
hand. When she was sure of her work, she clasped his in hers. "Frannie Vecchio,
call me Fraciesca, and I'll kick your balls in your throat."
enough, don't call me Stanley, and you got yourself a deal." They shook on it,
and started to giggle. When he sobered, he looked back at the school, the
windows easily lit up from inside in the dim day light. "Why aint you in there
with those freaks?"
"What, and miss this stimulating intellectual
company out here?"
"I don't belong with none of
them ass kissers. If it aint to one of the adults it is another older kid they
are debasing themselves for. Makes me sick just thinking about them." Her eyes
were facing the school, but were focused on a distant memor. "Nope, better out
here in the cold, skipping being taunted into submission by my brother and
"They can't be that bad..."
"You have no
idea. Do you have any of your own?"
"None. Mum wouldn't let the old
bastard touch her after the first time. She had found out she was pregnant with
me, and he got pissed. So she left him. Now I am back with the same son of
bitch. I won't let him treat me like that, I wont!"
She placed a calming
hand on his leg. "Whoa there silver, don't make me get the club and hit ya like
Looking a bit chargrined, he tried to smile for her.
"Sorry, got carried away. Not yer problem."
"You aint the only one with
that kinda problem," Frannie mumbled as she looked away.
"'Kay, I get.
Now what do we do?"
After looking around, she found what it was she was
seeking, and stood. "Now I throw this bag away, and then we blow this popcicle
Ray stood up and hurried to follow her. "Where are we going?"
For a while there was no reply other than giggling. "Tell me more about
yourself, Stanley Raymond Kowalski."
"There isn't much to tell,
Franciesca Vecchio." He shrugged, hand in his pockets as they walked on. "Seven
years old, live with the old bastard for a month cause the city orphanage is too
full. He don't want me, but they pay him just enough to make it worth his while.
I aint got no other relations. Had a brother, but he got lucky and got a
scholarship early. In one of them nice private schools on the other side of the
city near the lake. Mum was proud of him, and said so every time he got brought
up, and believe me, it happened a lot."
Frannie noted the resentment in
his voice. "You aint the only one who got this shit goin on with'em. Don't you
think I hear all the 'oh look at how good your sister is on that cheer leading
squad, you don't think they let just anybody on that squad, do you? Nope, no
sir, you have to be the best, and my girl is the best.' She goes on like she is
the best thing since sliced bread. That is when she isn't goin on about her
"Since pop died a few years ago, he has been actin man
of the house. I do somethin wrong, and I get wacked on the ass. Even when I
don't, I still get hit. Ma says I probably did somethin wrong and just don't
remember or lied about it to her. I mean I know she has to work hard, an' pop's
pension don' cover diddly squat, but that don't mean she has an excuse to let it
go on. He can do no wrong in her eyes. I am always the trouble maker, and nine
times outta ten, a god damned liar! So you aint the only one, not by a long
"Sorry, guess we're in tha same boat."
"We aint the only
ones." She started for the gate of the school, and watched for traffic. "Time to
show you the place. It isn't much, but we will be here for you if ya need us.
Just leave a note in our locker or with one of us."
"I might do that."
Ray frowned as she went farther in the city then he had ever been in all his
life. They walked down back allies he had never dreamed of, much less even
thought existed outside of cheap films. "Tell me more about this hell you came
"It isn't exactly hell, but it most definetly is not heaven. In
fact, home is all I got, no other family that I know of. Why are you so
interested?" She grunted out as they walked through another back ally.
"Just wanting to see how much you got it worse than I do. It might make
me feel better. That good enough for you?"
"Fine by me. I might actually
find I got it better." Holding up a loose board in a fence across another ally,
she watched him go through. "Let's see, I got my older sister, Maria, lazy skuz
she is. Probably end up pregnant by the time she is fifteen. As I stated
earlier, she is on the pompom squad for the sports teams in the middle school.
Now there are bunch of winners or should I say, whiners! Everyone of her friends
has the brain of tad pole, and the smell to match.
"Ray is another thing
all together, he is on those same sports teams. He is six years older than me,
but might as well be the exact opposite. He seems to believe that all things
revolve around his ass because he is on the eighth grade varsity squad basket
ball squad. Just because he got a growth spurt again, he is now taller than the
entire team. He would be captain, except there is another guy better than him,
which you will never hear him admit. I sometimes go to his games and root for
Zuko just to piss him off." She laughed to herself as Ray looked confused.
"Frankie Zuko is the captain of the basketball team. He is also the team
captain for most of the other sports. That which my brother doesn't beat him out
of that is. This grudge started when Irene, Frankie's little sister, smiled at
Ray a dance two years ago. Now they hate each other. Morons. Anyways, Frankie is
a bad ass who thinks he controls the world. Just like Ray. So much for it being
just great minds." This time, Ray did join her in laughing. "So what about your
"My brother, lucky shit head he is, I haven't seen him since I
was three. Don't know much except how great he is. Mum was the daughter of a
middle class family, why she married the old bastard, I have no idea. She was
all I had then she got killed while crossing the street on my last birthday. I
got sent to live with the old bastard cause the city don't want another brat,
and they pay him well enough to keep me around. I get by on what I can, take
what I need from the rich kids who are too busy ta notice, that is the best I
can hope for."
Frannie stopped in the middle of a deserted street, and
grabbed his hand. "Congratulations, you have possibly the crappiest life of the
"Gee, thanks, next time, don't mention it." He smiled as she
wrapped an arm over his shoulders.
"We are almost there, then you can be
amoung those that know your pain, and can match ya."
"Greatness, a whole
group of rejects and freaks, can't wait."
Ten minutes later they were on
the other side of the neighborhood in an old abandoned parking lot in the middle
of what used to be a high class business district seventy years before. Ray took
one look at the fence row of trees and weeds blocking it from the street and
smirked. "No wonder no one else comes here, they probably think it a junk yard
and trash pit."
Frannie sat down on an old parking block next to one of
the three brown stones blocking it in. "It was. They sealed it up when they
built the brown stone behind me. This place was the parking lot for one of the
old speak easies run by capone in the twenties. They let the trees grow so think
it became impossible to see through them. The only way to get to this place is
to crawl the way we came, that basement window of the abandoned building. City
is talking about tearing this place down, but so far it has been all talk.
Hopefully it will remain that way."
Ray looked around at the three story
buildings and the trees that matched their height as they towered over him The
wind barely touched their hiding place, only to leave a cool touch. Windows on
all the buildings had been boarded up or sealed off with masonry. Closing his
eyes, he spread his arms and turned around in a circle slowly.
"Shhh." When he had completed the circle, he opened his eyes
and smiled at her. "It's quiet."
Frannie nodded. "Probably the only
place in the city that is."
Ray's face took on a tranquile contenance.
"It is like another world, a faiery circle."
"A what? Are you on
Frowning at her, he shook his head and pulled his book bag of
his shoulder. Ray pulled out a book with a leather cover and opened it to a page
marked with a strand. "A Faiery Circle, in the kingdom of the Fey, the Faieries
are the guardians of nature. Their circles are said to be sacred places where no
mortal can enter with-out invitation and shown the way. Each circle is created
around a natural source of magic, a place of great importance and knowledge. It
is believed that they create places like this in cities, a dwelling place to
escape in the quiet solidtude of their ancestral homes."
like this place all right. May be those Irish people might not have been so
drunk." She shrugged. "Then again, if we asked Wren or Benton, we might get a
polite, but opposite answer."
"Who is Wren and Benton?" Ray looked up
from the book to Frannie who was talking over his shoulder.
older two of the group." Before she could explain more, the sound of boys
chatting and giggling filled the only entrance to the small sanctuary. Frannie
took one look at the first boy to crawl out of the cubby and groaned. "Oh dear
god. What did I do to deserve this?"
"Who is it?"
In answer to
Ray's question, three boys of the same stature, and ruffly two years older than
him and Frannie came walking over. "What have we here? Frannie brink a new girl
to the group?" One with a big nose and almost black hair spoke to them.
Ray snorted at him. "If you are anything to judge by, a pig would be an
"Is that supposed to be some kinda joke?"
kind." Ray walked boldly up to him, and looked up a little to meet his eyes.
"Then again, sad truth really aint all that funny."
"Who is the brave
"How the hell shoulda I know, Dewey?"
back, face screwed up in a half grin. He pointed at the only black kid. "Let me
"Wanna make somethin of it, sucka?"
You can cut the macho crap, I know you aint Mr. T."
"You watch the
A-Team?" A chorus from the boys as they looked at him in hoperful confusion.
"Yeah, wanna make something of it? Cause I can make somethin of it real
quick. You got that?" His words had the three older boys doubled over with
Frannie groaned as she slapped her forehead. "Take me, god,
take me now!"
Turning to look at her, Ray cocked a grin. "What was that
"I am not going to be a party to any more of their bad jokes. If
you are going to be the fourth member of their stooges, then I am leaving!"
"Ignore her, she is just jealous that we can be funny." Jack slapped Tom
on the shoulder. "Tom here is the master of imitations. Do one for him."
Tom smirked as he hit Jack back. "Fine!" He pressed his top teeth to his
lower lip and blew through them. The other two started cracking up.
"Oh god." Frannie stood up and put a hand on Ray's shoulder.
"Ignore them, they are just being immature."
"But who was it?"
"Not who, but what."
"Butt's right, Frannie," Loui called out as
he doubled over again.
Frannie nodded at Ray's
confusion. "He calls it a fart in the wind."
"That's sick! Ya bunch of
nasty bastards." Suddenly they went quiet. "What'd I say?"
we don't use it to discribe any one." Frannie was at his shoulder again.
"Yeah, well may be you don't, but I do. The old bastard aint gonna get
me to call'em dad. I wished ta hell I was a bastard. With mum gone, I might as
"Wish all ya want, kid, but we already are. Aint got a single
family member amoung us." This time it was Loui who spoke. His agressive stance
belied his true feelings as he looked away. "My mom left me on the steps of the
orphanage. Tom's and Jack's moms were teens, runnaways. Dunno who our pop's
were, or who our moms were, don't care. So don't call us bastards. Them damn
sisters do enough of that when we go back."
Ray walked over to stand in
his line of sight. "Which one ya talkin about?"
"Sisters of Mercy, or as
we call them, Twisted Sisters of Mercy, all them nuns are more than generous
with their words. Be glad you aint ended up there, bucko."
how nice for you." Ray smirked at Loui's glare. "What, you expect sympathy from
me? Fat chance, ducky!"
"I am gonna pound you into the ground mouth!"
"So now you are threatenin to sit on me, well you are gonna have to
catch me first tubby!" He tapped a hand against Gardino's slight paunch then
dived out of the way of his reach as the others laughed. After a few chases
around the parking lot, Loui gave up.
Frannie stood up and smacked him
on the shoulder. "Serves you right, stupid. Why are you here anyways? I know the
sisters hate it when you skip school."
All three went quiet for a
moment, and it was Tom who broke it. "Wren, he left another note."
hand flew to her face as Frannie gasped. "Shit, it's Wednesday, I forgot."
Sitting back on her block, she paled. "He was wearing black earlier, I forgot
all about it."
Ray waited for an explanation, but nothing was
forthcoming. "What about it?"
"Are you screwed in the head?"
"Eat shit, Loui! I don't know what is goin on."
Loui." Jack held back Gardino. "It is a custom of ours, when one of us has the
shit beat out of us, we wear black to signify not to be touched. Leave a note to
let us know to meet the others here to get our minds off it."
"Forget about it, it is okay, now you do." Jack was about
to say more, when they heard a painful gasp from the entrance.
first sight of the boy was of someone who's body didn't fit, like his spirit was
to small for the form. How else could he explain the klutz? Wren was dressed in
solid black, from his turtle neck to his hightops. This would be the first time
Ray would see the custom, but would not be the last, not by a long shot.
The silence that over took the three jokers made Ray shiver. None of
them spoke as the boy limped up to them, or when he wenced as he sat on a
parking block. Ray stood in the back ground as the others closed ranks around
him, taking his book bag and other heavy things. Feeling like he was intruding
on them, he turned to leave.
"Where ya going?" A hand settled on his
shoulder causing him to turn and face one of the duck brothers, Tom.
shrugged. "I was jus leavin, don' wanna bother ya."
"Aint botherin none
here." Another one spoke, Gardino. "Come and sit with us, that is, unless you
got better places to be." The sneer was clear in the slightly pitched voice.
"On what," Gardino was in his face.
that's your face, or your butt." Hewey and Duey started busted out laughing from
their places on the parking blocks as Frannie soothed Loui's nerves. Ray looked
to Wren, the boy had a slight smile on his face that disappeared immeadietly
when he noticed Ray was looking at him. "You okay?"
"I am fine, thank
you for asking, though." He would not meet Ray's eyes as he lied to him.
"Yeah, sure ya are. Who did this to ya, and how come he got away with
it?" Silence desended again. "What?"
"We don't ask, Ray." Frannie tried
to smile at him, but the sadness was too great. "When one of us wear's black, we
don't ask, just be there for him." She tried to will Ray to understand as she
put her hand on his shoulder.
Ray shrugged it off as he looked at them
disbelieving. "So what, ya just ignore it and hope it goes away."
"Ignoring it doesn't make it right. Just because the
bruises are gone doesn't mean it never happened." He tried to make them
understand but they turned away, only Frannie still held on.
doesn't, Ray. But we are all we got. The others don't care what happens to us,
we learned that a long time ago. So when we get hurt, we simply will it away,
and for the most part, it does." Her eyes were misted over as she finished, and
Louis held her close to let her cry.
In shock, Ray dropped down on the
parking block next to Wren. The other boy was shaking with silent sobs so he
pulled him close. As Wren hugged him back, he stroked the older boy's hair.
Careful of the bruises, he rubbed circles in his back.
For the next
three and a half hours the group explained about themselves.
Renfield Charles Turnbull the Second to former Sister Reagan Flannery and Father
Renfield Charles Turnbull, he was the bastard son of a priest." Jack spoke as he
bounced a ball. The rhythm keeping in with his angry words. "His mother was cast
out of the order and his father was forced to take a sabatical to South America
for five years. For the past three and a half years, he has been the mon senior
of the same church that runs the orphanage, Our Lady of Mercy and Divine Grace.
His father sees him every Wednesday before school to *teach* him his lessons
about sinners and their evil ways."
"Seems how he has no other family,
we adopted him. Nothing like having a real family to make you appreaciate your
friends. At least you can pick and choose them to a degree." Frannie wrapped her
arm around Ray's shoulders as she sat next to him and Wren. "For years I have
been the youngest and the little sister. I happily pass the torch on to you."
"Yeah, especially the little sister part!" The duck brothers started to
cackle and shriek with their laughs.
"Just how old are you bunch of
"Well let's see, Benton, he is the oldest at thirteen."
Frannie sighed, counting off on her fingers. "Then there is Wren at eleven,
followed by the duck brothers. Jack is the oldest at, two months after him is
Jack, and finally Loui, all nine years old. Then there is me, I turned seven
back in may."
"You are younger than me." Ray smirked at her. "I turned
seven in February."
"You are the new guy, so that makes you the younger
one." She patted him on the head and bounded away sing it at him again to the
tune of like a virgin.
Ray had one last question. "Why me? Why tell me
all this? I aint nuthin special."
She gave a humoring smile as she came
close again to pat his shoulder. "We know that, but we still accept you
"Yur askin for it, aint ya, Frannie."
She looked him
up and down with a huff. "You couldn't harm a fly, half pint." Laughing at his
death glare, she ruffled his fuzzy blonde hair and ran off when he tried to hit
He gave her one last glare, then waved off the issue as Wren
started to whimper from the movement. Ray resumed his stroking and petting until
well after Wren had settled down. They sat that way until the other members of
the group started to get hungry and bored from all the lame jokes and games. At
this time, they started to perk up, the last member of their group was coming.
School had let out a few minutes before, and the sounds of a bicycle
with flappers in the spokes could be heard. A head of soft brown hair poking up
from an overly large jacket came through the basement entrance. Pale blue eyes
locked on to Ray, and never left as the boy walked over to them.
stuck out his hand to Ray, as he knelt in front of him and Wren. "Are you well,
"Yes, thank you, Benton."
"Would you listen to these
two, sound like bunch of old ladies." Loui started mimicing them, but stopped
when Jack elbowed him in the ribs.
Benton stood up and turned to face
Louis. "It is a couple elderly ladies, and manners are something that will get
you farther than sarcasm, Mr. Gardino."
"Ooo, it's Mr. Gardino, now ya
got him mad, Loui!" Tom snorted as Loui narrowed his eyes.
Tammy. Sor-ry, Benton."
Nodding, Ben turned away. "That is quite
alright, just make sure you get it right next time." He knelt back down in front
of Ray and Wren again checking out Wren.
"Are you fer real?"
beg your pardon?" Benton lifted an eyebrow.
"Greatness, a freak and a
Vulcan." Snorts came from the duck brothers, but they wisely held their tongues.
"I do not believe we have had the pleasure of being introduced." He
extended his hand to Ray. "I am Benton Fraser."
"Yeah, well the name
fits." Accepting the hand, Ray shook it. "Name's Stanley Raymond Kowalski, call
me Stan, and I'll kick ya in the head. So Ray is all ya need, not any of this
Mr. Kowalski B.S., that is the old bastard."
Benton rubbed his eyebrow
in confusion. "The old..."
"The Old Bastard! Yeah, my pop, the man who
donated the swimmers that made me. Other than that, I have no claim over him."
"I see, well nice to meet you, Ray."
"Like wise." Ray motioned
for Benton to sit down on the other side of Wren. "So what's yer story?"
"Yeah, why you with this group?"
see, I first came to Chicago on the trail of my father, he had left me with
my..." Groans filled the parking lot as the other four turned away and started
to pretend to kill themselves. Ignoring their remarks, Benton continued on
unpreturbed. "grand parents. They travel a lot and he had left them with an
extra burden. When my mother died, he couldn't handle seeing me as a constant
reminder of what he lost, so he left. At first I was hurt that he had abandoned
me, but my grand mother took care of me as her own, so for the past six years
they have been searching for him on and off.
"They have a home here in
Chicago so it was decided that I would be brought here to get an education. Most
of the time I am home alone, but have learned self proficientcy and have adapted
quite well to my enviroment."
Looks of shock were all around as Benton
sat silent for five minutes. Finally Loui walked up to them in aggrivation. "Is
that it? No torturing him with the details of the search, the long drawn out
tales of all the places you have been, the tales you were told by those
"No, I have learned that not everyone is interested in the
entire story of my life. So I have cut it down to the bare bone facts in order
to minimize the time."
Screams of rage were heard as the duck brothers
imitated Yosimite Sam's tempertantrums. "Now he learns!"
"Not four years
ago when we met!"
"No, that would be too humane!"
their tirade with an expression on whether to shoot or call the men in white. "I
see why ya are friends, ye're all freaks."
Frannie was suddenly at his
side and smiling. "Well, Ray." She put a hand on his arm. "Confidentially, I AM
A WABBIT!" After honking his nose, she hopped away.
Rolling his eyes,
Ray muttered an oath under his breath. "What have I gotten myself into?"
Beside him, Wren started to shake his head and speak in a pitched voice.
"Oh dear, that was the last Uranium thirty-two exploding space modulator."
Ray looked at Benton's face. Benton shrugged. "C'est L'amour, no?"
Narrowing his eyes, Ray glared at the older boy. "Thanks for the sour
"But of co'rse."
Ray had gone home that day to find Daimon waiting for him. He played the
message for him about the cutting of school. It was the last time Ray ever
skipped class. The following day it was Ray's turn to wear black. It would not
be the last time.
Sitting there in the
parking lot, Ray drowned out the last of the early memories with the rock music.
Needing to get out of the funk, he lit up another cigarette, inhailing the smoke
with all his being. The feeling of instant relief was what it was all about.
Smoking was about the only thing that helped these days. It didn't used to be
that way, there was a time when just being alive was good, then he had met the
reason why the group were outcasts.
was one of the hard assed thirteen yeaar olds that always had a stick up his ass
over one thing or another, or so Frannie said. Turns out she was more right than
wrong. Being one of the jocks, he had a lot of people who wanted to be his
friend. All this attention did nothing bad to his already self inflated ego.
The first encounter between the two Rays was disastorous. It was the
following week, Ray Kowalski was sitting on the swings with Frannie discussing
what they were going to do when school was out.
"Do you think you can
"I can't, I have things to do."
"Just things, okay!"
Frannie looked away. "Bite my head off why
"You know what, just forget it. You don't understand."
With-out another word, he swung up and jumped from the swing. Running across the
play ground, he slammed in to one of the older kids by accident.
where you are goin, maggot!" The older kid shoved Ray down and started off with
"Eat me, shit face."
Vecchio stopped and spun on
the smaller blonde. "What did you say?"
"I said 'eat me, shit face' what
part of that don't you understand?" Ray ducked out of the way of the fist and
swung in to the gut of the older boy. "Try that again and I will kick ya in the
head." After a quick look over the group, he turned and ran from the shocked
kids as Vecchio tried to recover enough to give chase. By the time he did, it
was too late, Ray was back in the school.
"Bitch! I'll get you later!"
And he did. Ray had been walking home when Ray Vecchio and three of his
friends had jumped him. The fight lasted for fifteen minutes, Kowalski was down
at the end of it, but not before the other four had a several damaged body parts
and in one case a broken wrist. When it was over, Ray lay beaten and bloody
amoung the snow. A few minutes later Benton was at his side helping him to
stand. Ray shrugged his helping hands off.
"Please, Ray, let me help."
"Why, so you can go running back to your friends and tell them all 'bout
broken lil Stanley Raymond Kowalski?"
"Ray, I would never..."
"Save it Frase, I saw you with them earlier on the playground when I ran
in to that shit face."
"I was not with him, he and I barely know each
Ray looked at the honest and open face with anger. "Then why
were ya with'em Frase?"
"It is a girl, a girl I like."
d'em pomp pomp wanna be's?"
"Yes, Victoria is her name." Benton looked
away as a blush crept up over his cheeks. "Oh dear, I think it might be best if
we get out of this cold, I seem to be feeling a chill."
"Sure, that must
be it." A knowing smirk crossed his lips, but he didn't say anything else.
Benton had helped him walk the rest of the way home, but Ray was reluctant to
have him help him get up stairs.
"I don't understand, Ray, why can't I
"It's the old bastard, I don't want him meetin ya, an I got a
few things I gotta do before he gets home or I get in a lot of trouble."
Fraser tried again. "Perhaps I can help. It won't take as long if two of
us are doing the work. I promise to leave before your father..."
"Daimon get's home."
"Fine, but don't say I didn't
warn ya." Reluctantly, Ray lead him up the ramshackle stair to the third floor
apartment. With a flourish, he threw open the door. "Welcome to my personal
The apartment was tidy, but run down. Walls were browning from
age and plaster was cracked every where. Fraser noticed the carpet was
threadbare as they walked across the room. Walking to Ray's room, they picked up
things like an old news paper and trash depositing them in the trash can next to
his door. His bedroom was almost barren of all possesions, only a few writing
impliments and some paper to do his home work on the desk was all he had.
Benton felt the sadness of the room, but kept his own council on the
subject. "So, what do you need help with?"
"I need to vaccume the living
room and clean the kitchen. There's nuthin else to do today." As Ray explained,
he changed out of his school clothes and in to a pair of rattied jeans and tee
shirt. Walking back in to the living room, he grabbed the vaccume out of the
closet near the apartment door. "Which do you wanna do, the living room, or the
Benton took in the height of the smaller boy and the counters
and made up his mind. "I'll do the kitchen, you clean up the living room."
"Suit yerself." Ray went about his business as Benton went to clean the
As he washed the few dishes, he couldn't help but observe the
careful way Ray moved. He knew the younger boy was in pain, but there was no
helping him unless he wanted it. Before the last dish was dried and put away,
the door to the apartment swung open and in staggered an older looking version
"What the hell is goin on 'ere? Who da fuck are you?" Daimon
pointed at Benton as the boy put away the last dish.
After drying his
hands, he offered one to Daimon. "I am a friend of your son's, my name is..."
"I don't give a fuck who you are. We don' take charity so get the hell
"I was merely..."
Daimon grabbed him by his shirt collar
and tossed him out of the apartment, then went back inside and slammed the door
shut. Benton had tried to get back in, but the door proved solid, and after a
while the screaming died down.
Ray shuddered at
the memory. He was glad it wasn't Frannie who had followed him home that day,
who knows what might have happened. With a quiet sigh, he finished the cigarette
and went back to listening to the music. More memories arose unbidden.
Fraser had been the one to keep the group
together through thick and thin. He was also the only one that refused to let
Ray join them. Though he never said it to him, the others would tell him things
about what Fraser would casually observe. No one knew why Fraser didn't want him
there, but he didn't let it get in the way of the other members of the group
being his friend.
It wasn't until two months after they became friends,
that Fraser started to come around. It also was the first time Ray had ever not
shown up for a meeting. After school, they met in the parking lot, same as
usual, but Ray wasn't there. Fraser asked, "where's Ray," out of curiosity, not
care about the boy's well fare.
Frannie, "I dunno, he wasn't in class
either. Teach said his dad called him in sick. I'm scared somethin worse might
"Then he will come or he won't."
"That's it? You
were never this much a prick before." Loui stood up to the elder boy.
"What would you like me to do about it, Mr. Gardino?"
name and shove it, Fraser. I'm fuckin outta here." Loui stormed to the basement
entrance and dove through closely followed by the other two duck brothers.
When Benton turned to Frannie, she tossed her hair and joined them in
leaving. Wren shrugged and walked away. Benton sat down with a heavy sigh. "All
right, I'll go."
He found the Ray sitting on the steps of his building
bundled up in a over sized women's coat, tear tracks dried on his face. Not
knowing what to do, Benton sat down beside him.
"Do you want to talk
"What tha fuck do you want, aint like you care." Ray turned
away to go but stopped when a hand was on his shoulder. "What do you want?"
"I want to help if I can. Will you let me?"
Ray looked at him
for a few minutes. He took in the light blue eyes and their offer of geniune
concern. "They say the eyes are the window to the soul. I think it's true, but
some times they got some venusean blinds over them."
"They are venetian blinds, and do you think I have some over mine?"
Narrowing his eyes, Ray piereced him with a soul searching look. "Look
me in the eyes and tell me you care."
For a moment, Benton considered
laughing at the boy, but realized Ray had meant every word of it. He would later
confess this and everything about their encounters to him, but for now, he
decided to humor the blonde. He stared back at Ray unflinchingly. "I care, Ray."
Ray had been expecting a liar, the same person who had been avoiding him
unless absolutely necissary for the past two months. All he saw was another boy,
someone who was as lonely as him. Someone that could care if given the chance.
Nodding, Ray looked away again. "Fine. The old bastard took a book of mine. A
very special book."
"What about this book makes it so special, if I may
"No, you can't, but I will tell you anyways. You see my mom gave
me that book the day she died. The old bastard thinks she had some money left
over from her inheritence and that the riddle she left me inside it contains the
answer. So now the shit has it, and won't give it back until I tells him what I
"Well that answers that question, now the next one is what do we
do about it?"
"We nothing, I gotta come up with a way to get it back
before he gets pissed and burns the damn thing."
Benton wenced as Ray
spoke. "That is quite a colorful vocabulary you have there."
you would to if the old bastard was your father."
"I wish I knew mine."
Looking away, Benton tried to hide his feelings.
"Yeah, well if yer dad
left a kid like you behind, he aint nothin but a shit. So get over it, he aint
here to care about you, but I am."
Fraser looked out over the streets of
the run down neighborhood as he swallowed back his emotions. "So, we have to
plan a way to get the book back."
"Actually no, we don't. My plan is to
wait until he passes out from the drinking, then get it and run like hell." Ray
smirked as he with stood the full force of Benton's 'are you dumb or did your
mother drop you on your head' glare. "Okay, so it needs work, but I have nothin
in the way of smarts on these things."
"It doesn't take being smart,
just common sense."
"Great, not only am I stupid, I am too stupid to be
"This is going to take a while. Lets start small." He rubbed a
thumb over his eyebrow. "Okay, we have to make him think the book is gone. So we
don't have to take it and run. We simply await his eventual intoxication to the
point of unconsciousness, then we slip in, take the book, and then smuggle it
some place safe. Quite simple really."
"Yeah, yer good at that."
"Ah, thank you kindly, Ray."
Ray glanced at the older boy who was smiling, feeling satisfied with his
genious. "Yer a real freak, ya know that don't you."
Benton nodded and
stood next to Ray. "Perhaps, but we freaks stick together. For you see, Ray, you
must be one too, why else would we be friends."
"Cause I aint got enough
sense not to be."
"That too, I suspect."
For once in his life,
things had gone according to plan, thanks in part to the predictability of the
old bastard. After he had passed out over the couch, Ray and Benton had snuck in
and retrieved the book from the pot on the coffee table. In its stead, they had
placed the ashes of an old newpaper.
Rushing down the stairs, they had
nearly fallen from the giggles. They did not stop until they had reached the run
down apartment building in which Benton's grand parents owned and lived. For it
being over a century old, it was in good shape. Being one of the only buildings
to survive the fire that nearly leveled Chicago a century before, it was also a
sturdy building. His family had owned the property from the time they fought in
the civil war and received it as payment.
In the basement, Benton had
discovered a hidden room in the foundation of the old house that was originally
on the land. Evidence that it was a stop on the underground rail road was
colored on the wall in coal etchings. The room was one of the few places Benton
let himself be who he truly was, a lonely boy. It was in this room that Ray
stored his book.
On the leather cover were three winged figures, each
holding a black stone. The names of each were stenciled beneath them, but Ray
couldn't make out what it said. So he named them; left was a warm, light brown
haired god, Wren; right was the dark brown haired god, Frase; and center was the
blonde god, Ray.
"That is not their real names, Ray."
care, they look like they needed new names, not some sissy names."
don't think Eros was a sissy. In fact, he was a god of love, and match making."
After a few moments of huffing and glaring. "Sorry, Ray was the god of love and
Ray narrowed his eyes but nodded his ascent. With a sigh,
he wrapped the book in wax paper and replaced the lid on the wooden hope chest.
Inside the chest were things from all of the kids in the group; a silver ring
from Frannie's father's family, six gold arm bands the duck brothers refused to
say where they *aquired* them, some coins Wren had collected also from unknown
sorces, and a small set of jewelry from Benton's mother. They were the hopes and
dreams of the small group, now his too.
smiled at the warm feeling from that memory. There were some good ones amoung
the bad, but far too many bad for happy. He needed more good ones. His current
crises was just another one of so many.
About three years later, Frannie didn't show up for their daily meeting
in the parking lot. At first none of them said anything about it, but after
three days she still had not shown up. Ray had been the one to go and see what
He had arrived at the Vecchio's and learned that Frannie
didn't want to see any boys for the next twenty to sixty years, her words
exactly. When he had asked her why, she slapped him, then slammed the door on
his face. It was another two days before they learned she had started her
period. They told her it wouldn't change their opinions of her, and for the most
part it didn't.
But her view on things had changed. She saw that she was
becoming a woman and decided that only Benton was adult enough for her. The
others still not really showing any signs of maturing as he had grown four
inches in the past year alone. She tried out for the fifth grade girl's
basketball squad in hopes that he would notice her.
All her works were
in vain as he had taken Victoria to the halloween dance. She suddenly decided
that all guys were evil again, and refused even to talk to him. Frannie swore
revenge on him then went as far to slash the tubes on his bike. When Ray caught
her finishing the job he had taken her in hand and dragged her to a meeting of
the group. The duck brothers were silent as Ray and Wren questioned why she
turned on them.
She broke in to tears and tried to write it off as
hormones, only Ray didn't buy it. He knew something else was wrong, what, he
wasn't sure. "Frannie, you've been actin like a hell cat for the better part of
the month. This bull shit of cuttin on Frase's tires is the last straw!"
"Leave her alone, Ray! Stop lying to us." Tom was standing in his face.
"What do you know about hormones and puberty? Aint like you been through it?"
"Or you either if face hair is somethin to go by, or is there somethin
you aint tellin us about, may be somethin about cramps once a month?" Ray stood
in his face, but fell on his ass when Gardino pushed him.
migit! You aint ever gonna see puberty if you keep it up." He smirked as he
stood over a foot taller than Ray.
"Yeah, Ray, quit being so jealous,
you will get there."
"Shove it, Jack! There is somethin wrong and she
aint tellin us, but she is sure in hell takin it out on us." He turned to
Frannie and started forward. "Tell them, I aint a damn liar! You is hidin
somethin and I know it!"
Frannie shook her head, fear in her watery
"I am not a liar!"
"Leave her alone, Stanley!"
Ray faced the voice of the angry boy. "Oh great, if it aint the biggest
fucker in the sea. How in hell'd you find this place?"
"I am here for my
sister, little bitch. Stay out of my way, or you will get smeared! Come on,
Franciesca, ma says time to come home." Vecchio held out a hand.
she shook her head, tears falling, Ray tried one last time. "Tell me what is
wrong, Frannie, you can..." He was silenced as Vecchio picked him up and threw
him against a brick wall.
"I said shut the fuck up! Frannie get your ass
over here, we are going home now!" The others watched in silence as Vecchio
climbed back in the basement entrance, Frannie following him.
climbed out the former window and tried to offer a comforting smile.
was you! You're the fuckin traitor!" Ray coughed as he stumbled from his
position on the wall. "You lead him straight to us. We have no refuge from him
"Who is we, shrimp? You are the only one he has a beef with."
"Shut up, Loui."
"Eat it, Wren!"
"Silence, both of you!"
Fraser's angry words shocked them into silence. "Now, Ray, it was for her own
good. With Maria pregnant..."
"I knew it! Fuckin call me a liar! You all
can go to hell!" Ray limped over to the entrance.
"Ray, now be
"Fuck you, Traitor!" Ray threw himself through the entrance
as the other boys grew silent. He didn't sleep that night as sat up trying to
think up a way to avoid them. The next morning, he was still in the clothes from
the day before when Daimon told him to get up. All through morning preperations
he was silent.
On the way to school, he took the long way around to
avoid the others in their usual meeting spot. He kept replaying the day before's
harsh words. They had believed her word over his, just because he was not like
them. It was the same shit he had went through three years before. None of them
had trusted his word, had even called him a liar over it.
So deep in
thought, he didn't notice the others. They came up behind him and started to
step on his heels as he walked. "Stop trippin, dip."
"Leave my sister alone, you hear me!"
about it, she can keep her fuckin lying self with them so called back stabbing
Vecchio started to laugh with his friends. "Did you hear it,
the baby got his feelings hurt."
"I am not," Ray swung around and
punched Vecchio in the balls, "a baby."
"Get him," Vecchio gasped out as
Ray took off running.
Ray ran past the next group kids in his race to
beat the bullies to school. Not caring who he had to hurt, he burst through
another group, bowling two over in the process.
"Watch it... Kowalski?"
"Fuck off, Fraser," he called back over his shoulder as he ran out in
the street through the cross walk. The school only a lane away, he raised his
hands above him and started crowing in triumph. Too late he heard the horn. In a
moment, time seemed to slow down, he looked to his right just as the car hit
He was in a coma for two days, in all that time, not once did he
have a visitor. After he awoke, the doctors checked him over and released him.
No insurance meant he would have to recover from the injuries, both mental and
physical, on his own.
Ray gripped his left
hand, he had never regained feeling in the bottom two fingers. Nor could he read
with-out glasses for too long else his eyes start to cross. He would never
forgive them for that day, but he did for not visiting him. It took a long time,
and an enormous effort on Wren's part.
the first month he had to stay at home and do the work that his teacher would
send home with Frannie who would give to Wren who would bring to Ray. Everyday
for three hours he would sit with Ray, helping him relearn how to walk and talk.
After three weeks he was able to walk around on his own again, but coud not hold
a pencil steady enough to write. So for the remaining week, Wren taught him
muscle exercises to control both hands.
When he went back to school, the
lessons did not stop. In fact, the morning of his first day, he had made Wren
promise to walk him home. "I don' thin' I can make, uh... day. A whole day.
Wren smiled at him encouragingly. "You can, Ray, now I have
classes I have to go to." Patiently, he had pulled Ray's hand from his own, and
walked away, looking back every couple of steps.
Ray waited until Wren
was out of sight before going on into the school. All the other kids in the
fifth grade class were quiet as he limped his way to his seat in the back of the
room. When he sat down and faced the teacher, only then did she speak.
"It is good to have you with us again, Mr. Kowalski."
"Mr. Kowalski, please raise your hand before you speak."
narrowed his eyes at her, but did as told by raising his hand.
it, Mr. Kowalksi?"
"The name is Ray."
"It is Mr. Kowalski until
you are out of this class. I am not your peer or your friend, I am your teacher,
and your better. You will address me with respect and I will aford you the
"Fine, I'll call you your Indian name, Ms. Needs-ta-get-fu..."
"To the principal's office, Mr. Kowalski, now!"
away, Ms. Needs-ta-get-fucked!" He limped out to the laughter of the other
students as the teacher shouted threats and curses at him. Calling him
everything from monster to demon, he enjoyed her word play all the way down the
hall to the principal's office. Once there, the secretary took one look at him,
checked off her book and pointed him in. "Morning, Mrs. Redding."
"Morning, Ray. The usual?"
"Well it is not my fault she is so
uptight." He stopped speaking when he saw her no nonsense face. "She insisted on
calling me, Mr. Kowalski."
"And what did you insist on calling her, the
"Ms. Needs-ta-get-fucked," he whispered as he looked down.
"Well there is no harm in the truth. Tell Mr. Ruthersford number seven."
"Not the black boards again!"
"You need to learn not to use such
harsh language in front of the children and the students."
"Make that a number eight."
"Double...." a stern look, "darn!"
"Go on it, Ray."
Lunch time found Ray helping the gym teacher
clean for the first of a month's long lunch period detention. He would eat when
Ms. Waterson ate, and then help her the rest of the hour of his brake. Today was
more interested in the older kids than he was in cleaning. More and more he
found himself being distracted by their games.
It was the nineth graders
turn in the gym as they played basket ball. Ray watched both teams and felt
something different. One player imparticular made him feel... strange. When his
bell rang, he finally broke off his rapt facsination of the player and turned to
find Ms. Waterson watching him with a smile on her face. For a strange reason,
he felt a blush come on.
"Who were you watching?"
"Ah, Wren. He is pretty good, isn't he."
"The best." Ray felt a
goofy grin come to his lips as his cheeks felt hot again.
"You like him,
"Of course, he is my friend."
"Of course." She
smiled as Ray went back to watching Wren. "Ray, how old are you?"
be eleven in over a month, why?"
"Just curious. Think you wanna play
"Nah, just like watchin."
She left it at that. "Well,
best be off to class with you. Don't want to be late for the excitement of Ms.
Needs-to-get-fucked." Ms. Waterson gave him a conspiratory wink and took the
trash can he had been carrying.
Ray didn't know what it was, but for the
next month he found he was looking forward to cleaning up the gym. His after
school practice and study sessions with Wren made him smile for no apparent
reason. When he thought of the older boy, he felt strange inside, like there was
a small animal inside trying to climb out.
For the most part, Wren also
enjoyed their meetings. It was Ray's last day of cleaning the gym as punishment,
and also his birthday, when he found out why. Wren was the last in the gym as
the other ninenth graders had already gone to the locker room to change and
shower. He saw his chance when Ms. Waterson had gone to the girl's locker room.
Ray finished putting up the equipment with a disgusted sigh. The
freshmen enjoyed leaving a big mess for him. He reached down to pick up the
trash can when he saw the shoes coming towards him. Turning to face Wren, he
gave a tired smile. "Hey, Wren."
"Hey, Ray. How's it comin?"
"All done here, Ms. Waterson said I could leave late today 'cause of it
bein my birthday." He ran a hand through his spiky hair at the sudden anixous
Wren looked at his feet his face coloring slightly. "Yeah, I
know that." Starting to shift feet, he tried to speak again. "Um, I was thinking
an I was wondering what you wanted for your birthday?"
"Nuthin. I don'
really like to celebrate it."
"Oh yeah, sorry, forgot."
forget about it." A long embarrasing pause came afterwards. "Is that all ya
"No! I mean, no, I also wanted to... give you something."
Ray looked at the older boy suspiciously, but nodded his head. When he
noted that Wren hadn't seen him, he sighed. "Go ahead. What is it?"
"Just this." Wren bent forward and kissed him on his cheek. "Happy
birthday, Ray," came whispered in a low voice. Coloring bright red, he ran off
to the locker room.
Ray stood there in shock as he touched at his cheek.
The wet mark where the lips had made contact told him the older boy had been
licking his lips too much. He stood there for another full minute, just holding
his cheek in shock.
"Well are you going freeze there, or are you going
to skip class all together?"
Startled from his shock, Ray hurridly
picked up the trash can and caried it back to behind the stands. With a
shagrinned expression, he smiled at Ms. Waterson's knowing look. "Thanks, see
"You are welcome, and good luck." As he ran from the gym,
she called after him. "Oh, and happy birthday."
And it was. Wren had kissed him for the
first. After school they had been too embarrassed to do much studying. Ray
smiled as he remembered Wren's shaking voice as he tried to read aloud the
instructions on Ray's home work. It was another year before Wren had kissed him
again, and then it was another one on the cheek. Now he knew what it was that
had made him feel so weird. He had a crush on Wren.
But that was a long
After that, life got harder on the group. They were now all in
the grades where you needed all the friends you could get. It was May by the
time he was ready to speak to any of them again. Ray smiled as he remembered how
Wren had finally broke him into forgiving them enough to at least hear an
"I said no!" Ray started away from
the ally that would take him to the group. His anger visible in the military
march. Before he could reach the other end, a hand gripped his shoulder and spun
him around. He was pulled up short into a bone crushing embrace.
bent his head down, whispering a single word in Ray's ear as he restrained the
younger boy. "Please."
Remaining rigid in the grip, Ray shook his head.
"They haven't even attempted ta say one word to me since the moment they called
me a liar. I won't let them..."
"I asked you nicely, don't make me get
dirty, Ray. I like you too much, but even I know how to get agressive." In the
next instant, Ray was screaming with laughter as Wren tickled his sides. Under
arms, belly, neck, and back, all were vigorously rubbed by expert fingertips. He
didn't stop until Ray was hoarse from his cries. "Do you conceed?"
Wren started another
round that had Ray rolling as his sides were being tickled once more. "Give up,
"I can do that as well. Just listen to them."
Wren stopped when Ray was on his back in the grass at the end of the alley. "Do
"Fine!" Wren gave him a hand up and together they walked
the rest of the way. At the building, Ray noted from the bike, that Fraser was
there. "Big and Freaky still is on time, as usual."
"Ray, that is not
"Yeah, well when he turns on you, then you can tell me about
"He didn't turn on you. As you remember he came late..."
"And then tried to let it pass. I was wronged, not them!"
sighed as he shook his head. "We don't have time for this, Ray. Get in there, if
they are willing to apologize, you should be at least willing to listen."
"One wrong word, one name, and I walk. No more talkin with them, ever.
Got it." Ray stared at Wren with fierce eyes making sure his point was
"Good. Hey..." Ray cried out in shock as
Wren picked him up and hurled him into the old parking lot through the window.
"What in hell was that for?"
"You were going to wait until I went in,
then run away." Wren smiled as Ray glared at him. Climbing up into the window,
he pushed Ray towards the waiting group.
They stood around the parking
lot in various states of silent contrition. Ray didn't make their pain any more
bareable by his pissed stance either. Crossing his arms, he stood aloof. "Well?"
Benton was the first to respond, dropping in front of Ray, he wrapped
the younger boy in his arms. "Please forgive me, Ray. I have no right to ask,
but I wish it. I must apologize for all the pain I caused you and wish only to
"What in hell is that supposed ta mean?" Ray looked at
Benton with wide eyes.
"I regret my actions that day."
regret it, so why are you huggin on me?"
Fraser stiffened and pulled
back. "You mean you don't know?"
"Know what? Frase, this is getting on
Instead of turning to the confused Kowalski, Benton had
looked at Wren. "You haven't told him?"
Wren shook his head. "He didn't
ask, I figured it was best that he did not know until you could apologize. There
was already too much pain."
"Ah, I see. Then it is up to me." When Wren
nodded, he looked Ray directly in the eyes. "Very well. Ray. At the time of
our... falling out, Frannie's family made us promise not to say anything. It was
our fault, we knew what was going on, but we had made a promise. We had swore
once we knew not to tell a soul. I wanted to tell you, so badly, I wanted to
tell you. Then that day, Maria gave me the go ahead because she was dropping out
for the rest of the year."
"So all along it was just a sham. I wasn't
yer friend, was I?"
"Now, Ray, that isn't what I meant."
Then why didn't I know? Everybody else in this damn group did! Why not me?"
Benton wouldn't look at his accusing glare. "Answer me, damn it!"
were afraid you wouldn't understand, that you wouldn't be able to keep it
Ray turned to Frannie as she spoke. "An what did ya base this
ass-sump-shun on? The fact that I was younger than most of yas? Or that I
haven't known you as long? I thought we was past that shit!"
"No, I was, but you aint. You aint ready to accept me, until you are, I
won't accept any apologies."
"I'm sorry. Please." The barely audible
whisper caught Ray's attention.
Turning to face Benton, Ray nodded once.
Ray smirked as he walked towards the
window. "I'll forgive you tomorrow." With that he jumped through the window.
he did. The following day he had been the first one there, he had brought water
balloons. As each came in, he pelted them until they surrendered. When Benton
came, last as usual, all bombarded him until he was completely soaked. It was
his apology that had made him reconsider their friendship. He knew how much it
had cost the older boy to come out and say it.
It was still a sore
subject, but he was willing to over look it to spare their friendship anymore
pain. But it didn't matter anymore.
It was three years later that the
walls of their world came down, both literally and figuratively. Benton had
"I don' understand, why can't ya just stay here?" Ray ran a hand through
his spikes. At age fourteen and four feet tall, he was still the shortest member
of the group, even Frannie had out grown him. "What does them Run DMC's have
that could possibly make you want to be one?"
Benton smiled at Ray as
the others chuckled. "RCMP, Ray. I graduated last semester, and finally turned
nineteen. I have met all the requirements including reclaiming my Canadian
Status. This is something I have wanted for a long time, you know that."
"But whatta about m...us? I thought you said you cared."
"Don't." Benton's voice settled on the verge of anger. "I have done
everything I could for most of my life to protect you... all of you. Becoming a
Mountie is one of the first things I have done for myself. If being a little
selfish is what it takes to achive my dreams, then I'll do it. After all," he
stared the shorter boy in the eyes, "I have earned it."
happiness as much as the rest of us."
"Some more than others."
Ray ignored the muttered comment from Loui. "But what you don't seem to
understand is what this will mean to the rest of us."
perfectly well. It means that I will be gone for a while and you will have to
learn to get along with-out me for that time."
"Yeah, you will be gone!
You don't know how long or if you will ever come back."
rubbed his eyebrow. "Ray, life is a constant uncertainty."
know that, ass hole. You don't have ta be condasindin." Getting in Benton's
face, Ray snarled out his comments. "What I am sayin is this feels like you are
"Then I guess I am!"
"Fuck you..." was all Ray
got out before he hit the wall behind him. Holding his jaw, he slid to the
ground. Tears welled up in his eyes as he stood and ran through the window exit.
The others stared in shock as Ray disappeared. Benton turned to face
them, his own horror at his actions written on his face. "I... I..."
Wren shook his head in disgust and followed Ray out. He walked the
tracks through the dust and debris to the front of one of the old buildings
blocking in the old parking lot. There he found Ray sitting on the front steps,
clutching a balled up paper in fist. The other hand was holding his chin. "Ray?"
Ray shook his head no and held up the ball of paper to Wren. He shook
the tears from his face as they started again.
Taking the paper, Wren
sat beside Ray. Unfolding it, he sighed. "Oh dear. Benton always knew when to
pick the time to release the bomb shells."
"Yeah...ah!" Ray clutched at
his chin as the pain bolted through it.
"Please let me see your chin."
Not waiting for Ray to deny him, Wren grabbed his face. Lifting up his head, he
shook his own. "There is going to be major swelling along the lower mandible. He
does have a good right hook."
"Bast... ah!" Ray grimaced as his chin
sent more pain.
"That is what you get for swearing." He smiled at Ray's
death glare. "There is nothing I can do to ease the pain, Ray. He made his
decision, and we must respect him for it. Like he said, we all knew this day was
coming." Tracing a pattern over Ray's jaw, he smiled. "Nothing broken, but will
be sore for a while."
Giving his best puppy dog eyes, Ray lifted his
"You know kissing it won't make it better."
Sighing, Wren gave the sore spot a lite peck. "That is
all you are getting." He shook his head no when Ray glared again. "You got what
Ray instantly stood and started to storm away. It took
Wren a few steps to catch up with him. He refused to look at the older boy as he
"I'm sorry, Ray. I wasn't thinking." Pulling Ray closer, he
rested his head on top of the younger boy's. "What am I going to do with you?
You are always so stubborn."
"Be'er t'an you!"
obnoxious, Ray." When Ray smacked him on the butt, he rolled his eyes and let
go. Turning away, he held up the paper. "Where did you find this?"
t'ere." He pointed at the front of the old building they were standing next to.
"Wren!" Ray looked at his friend in shock.
sorry, Ray, but I was emotional. This was the last thing I was expecting. It is
also at the worste time. The others are not going to like it."
tha obvious, why don' ya."
"Bite your tongue, again." Wren smirked as
Ray glared at him.
Three days later the building was torn down, their world was exposed to
the public, and Benton shipped off to Canada to join the RCMP. It was the last
time any of them had seen him in the three years sense.
After he left,
things got real bad. Ray shuddered at Frannie's near nervous brakedown, the duck
brothers being seperated, and...
had been walking him home through the back alleys. The Old bastard had finally
taken the night shift so that they wouldn't have to see one another. Being their
first date, Ray wanted it to be perfect. It had taken Wren five years, and a
major growth spurt on Ray's part before he asked him out. So on his sixteenth
birthday, they had celebrated by going to a movie.
It was so cliched,
Ray had a hard time believing that it was actually happening. The man had come
out of the darkness from behind the building armed with a knife. Dressed in
black from head too toe, they couldn't see the guy's face. Both boys froze when
they realized what was happening.
"Give me your money or your life."
"What kinda fucking joke is this?"
The man sneered at Ray as he
twisted his knife in the air. "Aint no joke, little bitch. You an yer boyfriend
had better hand over all yer money, or I will carve you too pieces."
Ray's eyes narrowed as he spun to kick the guy in the head. The man
caught his ankle and punched him in the balls. As he screeched in pain, the man
let go of him and went after Wren.
Wren tried to fight by throwing a
left hook, but the man slammed his fists into his gut. "You girls are gonna
regret not doin it my way." He then slammed his fist in Wren's temple, knocking
the older boy unconscious.
Ray was cradling his sore balls when he was
suddenly kicked onto his back. The man knelt down between his legs. His attempts
at trying to hit the man were met with two hard punches to the face. He was
reeling as the man started on his buckle.
What part of his mind could
focus realized what the man was doing to him. He had to stop him before he got
any further. Already the man had his belt undone and was working on his fly.
"Stop," he mumbled through his swollen lips.
"No." With that, the man
growled, ripping the zipper open in his rush. He gave a short growl as he pulled
them completely off. "If I can't have money, then I will simply take you, how
does that sound? Am I your first, boy?"
Ray struggled against the
lethargy. Panic seizzed him when he heard the sound of a zipper. "Please..."
"You don't have to beg, I knew I was. You are going to remember me for
the rest of your life." The guy's harsh voice filled his ear as he leaned down.
He forced Ray's legs wide as he settled down between them. "It's later, little
Ray's eyes went wide in realization as the man slammed into him.
"Get off me!"
"Ah, come on, Stanley, I thought you liked this kinda
thing!" He punctuated the last word by slamming in again.
as he felt something inside tear. Warm liquid ran out of him down his crack.
Throbbing pain filled his body as it was violated again. "Help me!" His cry was
silenced as his attacker stuffed something in his mouth.
"As much as I
like your screams, I can't have you alerting anybody before we are through."
Ray struggled to spit out the foul tasting gag as tears ran down his
face. He couldn't believe it was happening to him. This thing didn't happen to
boys. Where was Wren? Where was his boyfriend while he was being raped?
The man on top of him suddenly stopped thrusting as he was jerked off.
Ray watched in shock as Wren lifted him up by his throat in rage. Glaring at the
man, his lips formed a sneer. "Did you enjoy your last few moments?" Then he
brough the man crashing against the building, his head spliting open from the
force the impact.
Wren let the body fall to the ground, ignoring it, he
turned to Ray. Bending down, he picked up the smaller boy in his arms. He leaned
his forehead againt Rays. "No one takes what is mine."
Ray pulled back from Wren. "Please tell me you didn't kill him."
gripped Ray to him hard, a stern look on his face. "You are mine!"
god, Wren!" He started to cry as Wren watched him confused. "That was Vecchio!"
Enlightenment dawned on the older boy and he held tighter to Ray.
felt his eyes well up with tears. That was the beginning of the end.
said get the fuck out!" Ray flew out the front door and fell down the front
steps. He cried out in pain as he landed on his sore back side. In the murkiness
of the tears, he saw as Maria flipped him off before slamming the front door.
Ray had come with Wren to see Frannie a few moments before. Ma Vecchio
had let him in believing he could help with her. Since Ray's death two nights
before, Frannie had locked in herself away. No one could get her to talk, not
even her grief stricken Ma.
Ma had forgiven Wren the night of the
murder, knowing he was beyond all thought at the time he did it. She said she
had time to be angry later. Now all she had were tears. Ray had been holding her
as she cried out her frustrations hitting on his chest. Maria had come in and
seen it as his attacking her.
Next thing Ray knew he was out on his ass.
Wren was at his side helping him stand while holding his shoulder. "Ray, perhaps
we shouldn't have come. I know Mrs. Vecchio asked, but I don't feel right about
"Why should you, it was you who killed the bastard after all." Wren
let go of him so fast Ray nearly fell. "Don't take it as it sounds, I am
grateful, it's just so hard. I mean, he was hurting me, but he is dead now."
"Don't you think I know that! I killed him Ray! Me, not you! I did it,
and nothing will undo it. I took his life, all I can see is his eyes as I slam
him against the bricks. The way they widen suddenly on impact, an instant later
loosing focus as the pupils expand. Death was not as I expected it to be, it was
worse. No sudden explosions, no dramatic music, just calm, empty eyes." Wren
made Ray look at him. "And I did it for you."
"What am I supposed to say
"Whatever you feel, Ray." When nothing came, Wren let out his
breath painfully and nodded. "Very well, Ray." As he turned to go, Ray pulled
him back. "What..." Ray stole his words in a soul searing kiss. One that spoke
all the words his heart wanted to, releasing all his fears and pain.
Wren smiled as they pulled back a little. Their eyes
met, both seeing their love reflected back. "Mi..."
A shot rang out.
Ray watched as Wren's eyes lost focus. He fell to his knees unable to
breath. Wren wasn't moving. There was shouting going on as somebody wrestled on
the edge of his vision. Ray ignored them, choosing to lay there next to Wren. As
he looked on, the sky took on a dark red hue, the sun fading to the west.
bit back the tears as he remembered the following month. Louis and Maria were
brought up on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He did the
crime after she manipulated him. At the time no one knew outside them that Louis
and Maria were seeing each other. Especially since he was supposed to be
Tom and Jack refused to speak to anyone but
Frannie, and were sent to different group homes. Frannie was emotionally gone,
what was left of her fragile heart was gone with Wren. At his funeral she
refused to do anything but stare at the pine box. She wouldn't even talk with
And that was it. There was no one left.
It was on that day,
he realized there was literally no one left. Except his father, and that bastard
didn't care. For the next eleven months Ray and he were constantly fighting. It
was slowly building until last night.
Ray sighed. It was time to face
the pain, it wasn't his fault, for a change. He had come home early from school,
he didn't know his father had quit his job. The old man started in on how he was
skipping school again. Ray told him to lay off that it was a half day. Then
Daimon had decked him. Waking up early this morning, he found that being
unconscious hadn't stopped the beating. Grabbing what he could, he had put on
his darkest clothes, grabbed his things, and high tailed it out of there.
He snuck in the basement of Benton's grand parent's building and
retrieved his book and Wren's coins from where they had been all these years. He
cut little slits in the leather on the inside of the cover and slid the coins
in. Tomorrow would be a year since he lost Wren to Loui's bullet so he wanted
'Fuck it,' he decided and pulled out another cigarette. It was
There would be no one here today, or any day. Frannie was at
the mental hospital last he heard, the others had graduated and moved away, or
were still in jail. Now there was not even Daimon to fight with. For a moment,
he considered ending it.
Wasn't like there were so many reasons to
continue. But his mother had made him promise to find a reason no matter what.
And a promise is a promise.
"May be tomorrow." Grumbling, he gathered up
his belongings, sticking them in the bag. There was plenty of room in the old
building that they had used as an entrance to the parking lot. It was boarded
off, and not even the most daring of bums would sleep in it because of the
instability of the structure. Or so he had told them. The top floor was
completely secure and sheltered from the weather, he had made it that way.
He watched as the last of the sun faded away before heading into the
building. The climb was like he always remembered it. Back when it had been him
and Wren, they had pretended it was their jungle top home. It was childish, but
it was their only retreat.
The top floor stair well was still looked
like it did seventy years before when it was the entrance to a speak easy. Now
it was more than just a imaginary home, it actually was. He smiled as a mental
image, a memory, of Wren pretended to beat his chest then carry him across the
It was times like that which made him forget the rest.
Ray pushed open the heavy door to the pent house suite. Inside were
hundreds of cushions and blankets they had retrieved from broken furniture and
store dumpsters. It was warm, welcoming.
He dropped his bag just inside
the door and pushed it shut, throwing the bolt to lock it. With a sigh, he
walked over to Wren's bed of rose colored cushions and wrapped himself in the
big red blanket. Wren had made a joke of the bed, a visual metaphor as he called
it. It still smelled like him, that was all Ray cared about. Twenty minutes
later he had cried himself to sleep.
When he woke up, the sun was rising through the clouds and shining on
the plants Wren had insisted on having. Not that one lasted long around him. It
seemed the only ones he could grow were those Ray had given him the seeds for.
So in various coffee cans and other oddities spread around the place, there were
fruit trees, mainly citrus.
Sighing, he walked about the suite with the
watering canteen. Giving each a little bit from it. When it was empty he walked
back to the old faucet and refilled it. Some person had left the well water
connected to this place and the old pump with electricty. Probably from the
Life was already too complicated to worry about nothing.
After they were taken care of, he stripped down. Grabbing the wash cloth from
the sink, he filled the basin and used the soap. He lathered all over, even his
spikes and washed it all away. After a quick towel dry, he walked back naked to
the bed and went to sleep.
When next he awoke, the sun was rising high
above the clouds. Something had disturbed him, a sound. Carefully, he put on a
pair of Wren's boxers and walked over to the window. Down in the parking lot
there were police officers. They were looking around, probably for him. If they
knew of his association with this place, they must have already talked with one
of the others. That means Social Services had to have been called.
Absentmindedly he wondered if it was the old bastard or one of the
teachers. On second thought he knew it was the teachers, they were the only ones
that seemed to care about him anymore. The old bastard would have told them he
thought he was in school. Or may be they learned the old bastard had quit his
job and they had come to take him away. Nah, he was too close to being old
enough to be declared an adult for that.
It was more likely they were
out doing a routine search for vagrants and trespassers. Of which he was now
Pulling back from the window, he sighed. It would be only a little
bit before they grew tired of it and left. His stomach was growling anyways.
Walking to his bag, he grabbed it and sat down on a large couch made of
cushions. He pulled out a box of crackers and some jerky then ate them in
For a while he just sat there, not thinking, just watching but
not seeing. There were a few things he wanted from the apartment, but he had to
wait until the old bastard would be out. That would be hours away, so he decided
to go back to bed.
Late afternoon found him waking from a dream of Wren. The tear tracks on
his face were barely dry. Rubbing his face, he sat up. He grabbed his clothes
and put them on. Time to get it over with.
He checked things over before
he left, securing the suite's door. The walk down the stairs was a nice
adventure in acrobatics as there were fewer stairs than the last time he had
climbed them. Over in the west, the sun was setting itself up to go down again.
The world seemed to always be like that now-a-days.
There were things he
would have to do for money, he could always get a job in one form or another. He
would worry about that after he got the last of his things. On the way through
the old back alleys, he smiled at the memory of the first time he had walked
them. It was Frannie who had shown him then. At Frannie's memory, he shut down
Focus, he needed to focus.
There was something to
do, he had to get his things. Then he would go home and figure out a money
solution. Things first. The ground seemed to disappear under his feet and he
found himself at the old apartment building all too soon.
He checked the
mail, noting the usual build up of bills. It seemed his father had been too lazy
to come and get them again. Out of habit, he gathered them. Carrying them up
stairs, he looked around as if for the first time. It would be the last. First
floor, second floor, third. He walked down the hall to the last apartment on the
level, and put a hand on the door knob and turned.
It was locked.
Not surprising, he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the spare
key. Unlocking the door, he pushed it fully open. Where had been his living room
was nothing but crate paper and trash. A few broken pieces of his furniture
litered the room, but everything else was gone.
Shock. That was all he
felt. Daimon was gone. Had left and not taken him with him. Inside, a small part
he had not known existed, died. He had been abandoned by the last person he had
expected. In robot motions, he walked to his old room and threw open the door.
Where had been his stuff was a completely empty room. Nothing was left.
Ray sat on the floor, his knees drawn to his chest. For a while all he
did was sit. A noise out in the living room broke his solitued. Quietly he
walked to the door, and peered out. The person in the room shocked him.
"Who are you?"
"Who the fuck are you, I won't ask
Rubbing his eyebrow, the Mountie looked down and sighed. "I
don't believe I have changed that much since we last parted."
the same person that left."
"Nor you the same Ray I knew."
shook his head. "I only changed on the outside. You did too, but you aint Benton
"Actually it is Constable Benton Fraser now."
"Constable. Fancy term for a freak in a super mountie costume."
"I assure you, this is not a costume, Ray!" Sighing again, Benton
composed himself. "I see you haven't changed as much as I thought. Still prefer
the spikey hair."
"The only style that holds." He walked in the room and
looked at Benton closer. "Still a freak."
"Thank you, Ray." He gave a
patient smile. "I grew worried when my partner at the local police station
learned of your runaway status. It seems your father declared you a runaway two
days ago. As according to your legal guardianship contract, you are to be turned
over to Social Services."
Ray cried out his frustration as he kicked the
door of the apartment. "That bastard knew it! I was fucking here two days ago,
unconscious as he beat me. That son of a bitch knew I would run away. He wanted
"I had assumed that was the case when he declared to the
Social Worker for your case that he was moving. It was in his rite as you had
run away. I had hoped you would be found at the old meeting spot and spared this
"Yeah, well too fucking bad!" Ray stormed towards
"Where do think you will go?"
"I have a place."
"I am afraid I can't let you go out there alone."
Ray turned and
glared at Benton. "You and what army, Mountie?"
"I am quite enough to
prevent your departure, Ray."
"Yeah, well may be three years ago. Not
Benton was at his side in an instant, holding him face to face.
"You are going no where unless I say so."
"I aint some scared kid
anymore, Frase. Things changed, people died, you left. It don' matter. Be sides,
unless you decide to pick up where you left off the last time we talked, I aint
Benton blocked his path by holding him bodily against the wall.
"You are in my custody, Ray. A citizen of Canada, or will be soon."
"What are you flappin about?"
"Your social worker attended a
meeting with me and a judge, you are now my responicibilty. As a represenative
of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, anyone legally bound to me is
automatically given Canadian citizenship. To put it in terms you can understand,
you are mine." Ray stopped struggling. "You are coming home with me, I don't
have much to offer in the way of space, but it is home."
back tears and nodded. Gathering his bag from the front door, he looked at
Fraser. "Just don't die on me."
"I'll keep that in mind." With a small
smile, he gestured for Ray to head out first. He put on his stetson, and
followed. "Ray, I hope you like wolves."
"Why is that?"
long story, perhaps it would be better explained if I showed you."
It has been six years since Ray was given to the custody
of Benton. Ray accepted his new nationality as it would allow him to remain with
Benton. Shortly after their moving in together, Benton was transfered back to
the Northwest Teritories, taking Diefenbaker and Ray with him. For the most
part, they remain happy. Though he has yet to allow any kind of physical
affection, Ray is recieving help, and hopes to over come it.